I Got No Ecommerce. How Do I Measure Success?

four new leaves A vast majority of discourse in the web analytics world is about orders and conversions and revenue. There is not enough of it about non-ecommerce websites, metrics and KPI's.

I hope to shift that imbalance a little bit with this post. :) With a tweak here and a tweak there along with a understanding of your outcomes and you can measure any type of website effectively.

I am not going to talk about lead generation websites here since metrics similar to ecommerce (conversion rates etc) could still apply there. The types of sites I am thinking of are pure content sites where people come, consume content and they leave. And maybe they come back again, and again, and maybe again. :)

Think of a technical support website (though in that specific case read this: Measuring Success for a Support Website). Or a news website. Or a blog. Or a site full of white papers. Or think of a "brand" site or other such things. Bunch of content and no real online outcome.

My recommendation: Measure the four metrics that are under the "Visitor Loyalty" button in Google Analytics (or in your favorite web analytics application). Loyalty, Recency, Length of Visit, Depth of Visit.

The goal is to use web analytics data to interpret success of a visit to your website.

google analytics visitor loyalty reports

I am embarrassed to admit that until a couple months ago I did not even realize how well these were laid out in GA. I blame it on the V1 interface!! :)

There is one singular reason I loved 'em: they showed distribution and not simply averages for each of the metric!

The metrics mentioned above have been recommended in the past for use for non-ecommerce sites. But it is illustrating of the distribution of the metrics in this case is the key for gleaning insights. A escape from "averages hell" if you will, a world where insights were hidden.

Visitor Loyalty: During the reporting time period how often do "people" ("visitors") visit my website?

google analytics visitor loyalty

The number you are used to seeing is "average visits per visitor". That is usually one point something. It hides the truth.

In this case like a the curtain is removed from the "average" picture and you can see the front and back loading of the trend. It helps you understand what the median is, where are your outliers and if you were aiming for a particular number then what are the specific number (or percent) of people in that bucket.

For example you update your website ten times each month. If you have 100% loyal visitor base then they should be visiting your website ten times each month. Are they? What's your number? Is it going up over time?

Action: 1) Identify a goal for your non-ecommerce website for the # of visits you expect from the traffic to your website in a given time period (say week, month etc). 2) Measure reality using above report. 3) Compare your performance over time to ensure you are making progress, or potentially not as in my case…

google analytics visitor loyalty trend 1

Recency: How long has it been since a visitor last visited your website?

Sounds confusing? Don't worry it is cool (it even has a psychedelic border! :)……

google analytics visitor recency

Simple example: www.cnn.com probably wants the visitor recency metric to be 1 day ago, which means every visitor comes to the website every single day to consume all the wonderful content that is on the website.

As would be the case for a jobs site. Or craigslist. Or any website that wants lots lots of repeat visits. Using this simple report you can now see how you are doing when it comes to the distribution of visitors in terms of their propensity to visit your site.

Action: What kind of site are you? If 67% of your audience (that's 0 days above) is consistently new over months then should your site content / design / merchandizing be different? Should you "sell" harder the value of repeat visits to your audience? Is that number going up or down?

All questions that now you can answer and as you create incentives on your site for people to visit more frequently you can actually measure success!!!

Length of Visit: During the reporting period what is the quality of visit as represented by length of a visitor session in seconds.

Average time of site is perhaps the most common web analytics metric on earth. Some people have recently taken this on as the new word of god.

But it has always been frustrating to me how hard it is to get away from the average and measure the distribution of the visits to check if the average time on site is 50 seconds because one person visited for one second and the other person for 100 seconds. The average hides so much. Here's a better alternative……

google analytics length of visit

Ain't that better? I think so. So many things jump out at me, but notice that either I lose 'em right away or if some how I can suck them in for one minute then they tend to stay for a long time. Hurray! I have a better idea of how to interact with my visitors.

Action: 1) Identify what the distribution is for your website for length of visits. 2) Think of creative ways to engage traffic – what can I do to keep you for sixty seconds because after that you are mine! 3) Should I start charging more for ads on my site – if I have 'em – after 60 seconds? 4) If you are a support website then should you be embarrassed if 20% of your audience was on the site for more than ten minutes!

Create your own goals, measure success for percent of visits that are long and percent that are short.

Depth of Visit: During a given time period what is the distribution of number of pages in each visit to the website.

This is the brother metric to the Length of Visit metric above. Though given the recent press from random bloggers (self included) a brother that everyone is in a rush to disown. It is important to remember most of the web is still pages.

google analytics depth of visit

You are used to seeing average page views per visitors, above is something that is a lot more helpful. I was also able to get this exact metric from my indextools implementation…..

indextools depth of visit

Action: There has been so much said about this already so I'll spare your the pain. You can easily imagine how wonderful and fantastic this data is as you go about analyzing experience of your customers (and so much more powerful, a million times more, than average page views per visitor!).

Recommendations for all of the above metrics:

Getting the data above is just the first step. Once you have the above distributions for your key metrics:

  1. Socialize them to your key stake holders and decision makers to make the realize what is really happening on your website. Get beyond living in the average world (where Bill Gates and I make a average of 45 million US dollars per minute!!).

  2. Absolutely positively work with your leadership to create goals and then measure against goals over time, especially as you make changes to your website.

  3. Segment the data! For Visitor Loyalty or Length of Visit what are the most important acquisition sources? What are the keywords that drive valuable segments of traffic to the website? As you look at longer time periods what pieces of content do people with longer visits consume? And so on and so forth. Segmentation is key to insights that will drive action.

Convinced these are wonderful metrics to measure success of your non-ecommerce website? I'll be the first to admit that all four metrics are "simple" yet presented differently they can be

You have a content site, you have visitors, now you can set clear goals and measure success of your website. Every single web analytics tool should provide one click access to a clear visualization of this data (check you web analytics tool, it probably has this already).

Please share your feedback via comments? Critique 'em, add your favorites to them, remind me what I have missed in this story.

[Like this post? For more posts like this please click here, if it might be of interest please check out my book.]

Comments

  1. 1
    Steve says:

    Ahh. I feel like you've written this just for me. ;-)

    Seriously, the other metric I find fascinating is "How long has someone been visiting us".
    Segmenting users who have been visiting us (same cookie!!!) for 2+ years is quite fascinating compared with "here today, gone tomorrow's".

    "…new word of god". I'm *sure* I have no idea *what* you mean. And neither does Judah. ;-)

    Cheers!

  2. 2
    Dharmendra says:

    This article is very informative,detailed and explaining different terms used while creating reports using GA.Nice read indeed.

  3. 3
    Joe Teixeira says:

    In GA, I also like to use the Visitor Trending section..specifically, Time on Site and Average Pageviews. Some of our clients are not E-commerce sites, and don't really have a true "Conversion" point, so we use the Visitors section to measure what's going on.

    I'd also like to mention that there's been a lot of talk lately about how horrible and bad the Pageviews metric or set of metrics are (at least that's the impression that I get when reading some of those posts lately). Call me insane (hey I've been called a lot worse) but if I owned a website, the first question that I would ask would be "How many people visit my website?". Not "what Goal 2's Conversion Rate is" and not "what is services.html's Exit % is". I just think it's in our DNA to know "who's watching"..or in this case, who's visiting / reading.

    Please correct me if i've completely missed the boat on the recent discussions around the web analytics blogs.

    Thanks as always Avinash!

  4. 4
    john kean says:

    You can also construct a "Value Model" per Dr James Anderson of Kellogg and Dr James Narus of Babcock, as I did when I presented Hanes.com at Ad:Tech Chicago in 2004 (just before we made Hanes.com native eCommerce)

    regards
    -John

    ps: connect to me via LinkedIn if you want a copy of the powerpoint deck. Panelists included folks from Kodak.com, entertainment.com and Avenue A- Rezorfish

  5. 5
    Andrew Wilson says:

    Avinash,

    Great stuff.

    Working for a government Web site means that our goals are often very different than sites that get more attention from the broader analytics community. Highlighting these other useful metrics is of tremendous benefit.

    Many thanks for your continued excellent work.

  6. 6
    Satnam says:

    Where are the bounce rates Avinash? :) Being a fan of segmentation myself, I would also say that it is important to look at trend of visits to and exits from the top few entry pages. In the above example, 35% of the visits were less than 10 seconds in duration – is it for a specific page or across all pages?

    Additionally, how about the rss feeds and social bookmarking features? how many people digg'ed the story or emailed it to their friends etc.? I think the latter would be interesting especially since most of the content sites (not counting blogs) offer it as a standard feature.

    - Satnam

  7. 7

    great post ;-)

  8. 8
    10668844 says:

    A great piece, thanks.

  9. 9

    Joe : As websites get more web 2.0ish one important change is that there is no such things as a page view. Think about how you are using Google Analytics, on many reports the page does not reload, just the data. So with advent of ajax and flash the web is more "flat" and yet a lot more interactive, just like desktop software. That is what everyone is cribbing about.

    But a majority of the web remains page based and so "how many page views did my site get" is not a question that is going away any time soon. I am hopeful though that rather than simply rely on page views to get a feel for content consumption or outcomes from your site that we will all move to better metrics (some of which you see in the above post).

    Satnam : Good point.

    The scope of this post was purely to provide a "new" set of metrics to help measure success of non-ecommerce websites. Once you do measure your success (especially after following the three recommendations at the end of the post) and it turns out your site stinks then there is a bunch of things to do to figure out what it going on.

    In addition to what you have already listed on your comments I would also highlight these two posts that touch on how to improve your sites:

    ~ Measure Effectiveness Of Your Web Pages

    ~ The Three Greatest Survey Questions Ever

    ~ Getting Started With Web Analytics: Step One – Glean Macro Insights.

    All of the above will help you understand what is going right or wrong.

    Everyone : I have emailed "10668844" to share what the mystery is behind that number/name! :)

    Thanks everyone, please keep the comments coming. They are like cocaine!!

    -Avinash.

  10. 10
    Satnam says:

    Avinash,

    If I may, I would like to add another question to your greatest three questions ever and call it "greatest four questions ever".

    It's a simple question rather: would you recommend this site to your friends? I would request a quantitative rating and qualitative feedback (text box) from the users.

    It works quite well. Nothing evokes more raw emotion than asking people if they like you, I guess :)

    To end this comment, "like cocaine", huh? Open admission on a blog, Avinash?

    - Satnam

  11. 11
    Will says:

    Avinash – probably the most useful post yet (and I bought your book!). I followed one of the links in the comments that talks about using filters to segment out this data. Any recommendations on how to add a filter to just see direct traffic (and then referral traffic, etc)?

    Thanks!!

  12. 12
    Florian says:

    Any idea how to see these measures in Omniture?

  13. 13

    Hi Will,

    I've updated my post to include information for referral traffic and direct traffic.

    Thanks,

    Justin

    ++++++++

    AK: Link: http://www.epikone.com/blog/2007/07/17/segmenting-visitor-loyalty-reports-in-ga/

  14. 14
    Mike says:

    I have been waiting for this post for soooooo long. Thank you for the book and thanks for this post! More on non-commerce! I beg you!

  15. 15

    I was very happy to read your post on Content Site metrics. I have read it a couple times now, took some notes, and will surely update my monthly reports based on this information.

    With so much focus these days on Web 2.0, Ajax, video, etc., it is easy to forget that some sites still rely on the .pdf as the primary means of conveying content. In the opening paragraphs of your post, you refer to sites that are "full of white papers," which exactly relates to the site I work on. These white papers are commonly hundreds of pages long that require downloading. No one is going to study a 200-page technical report in HTML; instead, the PDFs are downloaded, printed, and used as reference.

    My point here is that Downloads and click-throughs become KPI's. For example, if we have 20 content items on a single page, and only 5 of those items are clicked-on (downloaded) then we know to keep those 5 items posted and we have to re-evaluate the other 15 (to keep or not to keep, that is the question).

    I have read that measuring Visitors clicking links do not necessarily show true engagement: in that just because they clicked a link does not mean they clicked the correct link or they enjoyed the content they clicked on. My counter-point to this is that measuring click-throughs does show which topics Visitors are interested in, regardless if they ultimately enjoyed the content or not. We use click-through and download analytics as a means to determine which content (topics) to keep posted, which to remove, and which to update. And in that manner, we are taking steps to ensuring the content on our site is relevant and meaningful to our visitors.

    I realize that GA does not measure Download rates, but they do offer a helpful link-tagging solution that we employ and use quite effectively.

  16. 16
    nick says:

    Nice post Avinash,

    Though I think there's more value to be had than simply looking at before and after trends but instead comparing the 'engagement/loyalty' metrics against different marketing/referral sources.

    ie was the length of visit the same between 'shoes' or 'nike air'

    That would give you insight into which messaging is really working…and I would argue augments conversion rate for e-commerce sites as not everybody is ready to buy today.

    Also the 0-10s Time On Site bucket is inflated in GA as 1 page visits (bounces) are counted as 0 seconds.

    -nick

  17. 17
    JS says:

    Great post Avinash. But I wonder how recency works in GA. In your post, we see that 66% of your visitors came 0 days ago and if I'm right your visitors came for the first time in the timeframe you've specified for you report. But, if they come more than once in your timeframe, let's say two times in 7 days on a monthly basis timeframe. What GA will provided? will it provided the first visit or the both?

    Jean-Sebastien

  18. 18
    Chuck says:

    Great post! One question though: you mention "Segment the data!"

    Just wondering how this is done using your apparent tool of choice, Google Analytics?

    On these reports, there are no options for segmentation. On drilling into a traffic source first (for example), we're back to the land of averages.

    Thoughts?

    Cheers,
    -Chuck

  19. 19
    Brian says:

    In your great book you suggest bounce rate should be defined as the percent of traffic that stayed on the website for less than 10 seconds, so for your example we can see that is 35.25%. However you also say that time on site is a poor metric due to the one page problem, i.e. all visits of one page are given a time on site of zero seconds. If these stats came from a blog site, with typically one page viewed, or any other one page site model, do you agree that your bounce rate metric is questionable?

  20. 20

    Thanks for a great post. These points really apply to some of the sites that I work on for example Saab Biopower's site is purely a branding site highlighting saab's eco's credential and the only call to action is the ability to download a brochure. Although, as someone else mentioned too, it is possible to add on-click urchin tags when you are tracking pdfs etc, it would be great if GA could allow you to create a valuable content/download report which you could filter against visitor loyalty in order to see an actual breakdown (getting away from averages again too). Because then you could compare visitor loyalty of different visitor segments (ie those who download pdf X versus those who don't/other) ie engaged versus flirters.

  21. 21
    Andrew says:

    Great timing for this article! I just recently gave a ppt presentation of the "real" picture of our Website's traffic to the key stakeholders. This group has previously been riding high on average visits, average pageviews, average time, etc….all of which were impressive statistics.

    After I showed the last few slides, which featured the trends above, their attitudes changed dramatically. Our Website didn't look as impressive any more.

    But that was my opportunity to introduce some actionable insights. Now that we know this…how can we change? I got their attention and now they're on-board with planned changes. Still a long way to go, though….

  22. 22
    Stuart says:

    Is there any way of tracking visitors on a retrospective basis ie: from say goal conversions of returning visitors with specific time bands more than 120 seconds for example?

    It would seem to me more valuable an analysis, especially coupled with web page analysis…

  23. 23

    Hi Avinash.

    It's about time I visited your blog often, if possible, whenever you post. I don't know why web analytics so far have scared me. May be the reason is I have had no data of my own to analyze :-). I scarcely improve my own websites and whenever I do, it's all about adding new content; very little promotion, and near-to-nil traffic analysis. I'm gradually going to change that, and this post has helped me a lot. Thank you.

  24. 24

    Wonderful post. I think it's absolutely critical to broaden the analytical discourse beyond the narrow frame of purely "monetized" metrics.

    A real understanding is needed of how to provoke "deep" visits: retaining visitors beyond landing pages and moving the content consumption needle to 4, 5, and 6 pages.

    Segmentation is crucial to really getting mileage out of this data, and I'm glad you hammered that point home as one of your recommendations!

  25. 25
    Anirudh says:

    WOW!! What a great article….I also handle a website with no e commerce..and after reading this article I feel I could do a lot of a other things keeping the four factors that you have mentioned.

    Thanks,
    Anirudh

  26. 26

    Michael: I have to agree with your overall point of view, click-thrus are wonderful indicators of customer interest and you would be silly not to use them becuase a couple of people might have clicked on them by mistake. Your point of view is absolutely right.

    I will add that what I caution against is making a judgment call that simply becuase then people saw the page they were looking for means that they found it to be helpful. This is very often what happens, "we made a thousand people happy becuase they saw this valuable piece of content on our site". It could be badly written, maybe it has a high bounce rate etc.

    For that reason I recommend that people use surveys etc to get a feel for how the customers feel about the content itself ("Did you find this page easy to read." "Were you able to find the answer you were looking for." "Did you complete your task on our website today."). You get the idea. :)

    Nick : Completely agree with you on segmentation by keywords, or anything else for that matter. The insights will come tumbling down.

    I am not sure that I would say that the number is "inflated" by the bounces. People come, see just one page and then they leave. I guess it would be better to table them as NA because for those sessions the number is unknown. I suppose the zero suffices. :)

    JS : Here is an attempt at a cogent answer to your wonderful question, directly from a very important horse's mouth!

    If I had 1 visitor who on 1/3/2007 visited my site, then came back on 1/6/2007 (e.g., same visitor), and I was looking at GA with my date range set to 1/5-1/6…

    The bar chart would show:

    0 day ago: 1 visit
    3 day ago: 1 visit

    Note that this is EVEN WHEN the date range does not include 1/3/2007.

    In summary, we do the above calculation for each visit. For every visit we determine when was the previous time we saw a visit from the same visitor so the count would add up to visits. The length calculation is based on the visitor cookie.

    The formula for calculating # days ago is :

    (previous visit time in seconds – current visit time in seconds)/ 86400

    where 86400 = number of seconds in a day.

    Does this help explain what this is?

    Chuck : See Justin's post on how to go about doing segmentation with GA (for other tools you can check their user manuals – do we still have user manuals for these things! :)). Link:

    http://www.epikone.com/blog/2007/07/17/segmenting-visitor-loyalty-reports-in-ga/

    Brian : Yes and no. Let me try to explain.

    For blogs specifically I recommend not to get obsessed with bounce rate becuase blogs are essentially one page website. Most people will read the home page (where most of the fresh content will be) or they will look at the latest post page and leave. So even if they spend thirty minutes reading it in either definition (single page or number of seconds) they qualify as "bounced".

    For other normal websites that is not the case. Then no matter how you measure bounce rate (single page view or number of seconds) that is a great metric to measure quality of traffic that you get and your landing pages.

    Does this make sense?

    Andrew : Thanks for sharing your story, you are my new hero!!!

    Stuart : It is not easy as I wish it were but using standard GA mechanisms you can. See the link about to Justin's post for the how.

    Everyone : My apologies for the late replies to the comments. Between the seminars and my other personal speaking and consulting engagements life has been a blur recently. I do get to meet a lot more of you, but I get to sleep a lot less! :)

    Thanks so much for all the delightful comments.

    -Avinash.

  27. 27
    Mr.Vent says:

    Great to see the SAAB Biopower system get some exposure in the U.S. GM needs to bring this car or the E-85 model to the U.S. market ASAP.GM needs to mention the innovations SAAB has brought to market in it's advertisements, and put more SAAB ads on. SAAB offers two very nice wagons for buyers looking for one with great driving dynamics and a solid feel. SAAB has safety ratings that are at the top of the industry, but GM never says anything about it. Like the Mechanical Brake Assist (MBA). Automatically boosts braking pressure when driver presses hard on pedal, reducing stopping distance. And minimized unsprung weight for better ride comfort. Saab brake caliper – http://www.swedishoemparts.com/saabbrakecaliper.html , hub carriers, lower control arms in the front suspension and the toe and lower links in the rear suspension made of aluminum. SAAB has great potential for introducing more features like the E-100 BioPower system into the market and hopefully GM will add a Twin Mode Hybrid version (with Plug In option please) to the SAAB line.

  28. 28
    Patrick says:

    Something I'd like to chip in: Even though this blog post is aimed at non-commercial sites, I think it can also be helpful to people trying to create "something commercial", but are smart enough not to try and monetize their site before they've built a loyal following – and gotten a decent number of links to rank in the search engines (and get direct traffic).

    As you mentioned displaying ads/charging more for your ads as visitors tend to stay longer, etc. maybe it would be possible to only display ads to people who have already become loyal repeat visitors (and are thus unlikely to get put off by a couple of ads)?

    Can the length of visit metrics be further segmented into "length of visit of first-time visitors" (with some tool)?

    I think that would be very telling, because a lot of people (like myself) probably are repeat visitors who type in your domain name and then disappear quickly b/c they just wanted to check whether you had made a new post (and probably do this multiple times/new blog post).

    That would probably account for most of the 0-11 seconds visits..and many of the 11-30 and 31-60 might be such people, too who decide to take a look at the comments section or read your old/last blog post again for a couple of seconds.

    I'm wondering if the assumption that if you draw them in for 60seconds that they tend to stay a lot longer..and what you could do to make them stay longer is all that helpful, though? I might be wrong, but I would guess that 0-10, 11-30 and 31-60 seconds stays are mostly repeat visitors (any way to segment that??:-)) or visitors who are new and don't really like the blog (b/c they had expected something else?)..

    and that those who stay longer would be mostly visitors that are reading a new blog post…the decision you could make based on that being that you should write new blog posts :-). j/k

    Does the length of stay peak around times when you make a new blog post?

    I really think it would be so interesting to segment this data for new visitors. I think that would really help the webmaster take action and realize if he could do something with the site that would help make first time visitors stay longer than 60 seconds – and thus get them to continue reading for quite some time and eventually come back and turn into repeat visitors.

    I think if I come to a site that Ive visited before (and visit it somewhat regularly) the length of stay-metric on the website isn't all that revealing, but I know that a lot of times I'll go to a new website and THEN either I like the content on it and I'll continue to read..and start reading other contents on the website..or I dont like it and I'm often gone forever.

    Actually that's the reason why I thought the top-blog-posts-idea can help you draw in visitors for a long time. Often it's not just about the value of the content, but also about the packaging of the content: Write about a topic and put the content on a website and people will think of it as another website, but package it as an e-book or a "real" book and people will associate more value with it despite the content being the same. "Repackaging" top blog posts and making them look appealing to first time visitors might have a similar effect as packaging of a book..and make (hopefully many of) them stay for longer than 60 seconds.

    But again, I would find it so interesting to see a segmentation for time on site vs. time on site for first-time-visitors ;-)

    P.S.: I hope my assumption that these are the stats for your blog is right..?

  29. 29
    Patrick says:

    Ohh..and what other things jump out at you when looking at the "length of visit" data? Don't you feel like sharing some more of them with us :-)

  30. 30
    Patrick says:

    Is bounce rate ever segmented for new visitors? I think that would also be more telling than simply the bounce rate for all visitors (isn't the bounce rate for a blog pretty high b/c many people come back just to check if there's new content on the blog, yet?).

  31. 31

    In addition to the ones you mentioned, there are a couple other metrics that I've found work well with content/media sites.

    1) New Visitor Percentage: Ratio of new visitors vs. returning visitors.

    Since you always want to be building your audience base, you'll want to track what percentage of your visitors are new. As you increase the level of new visitors you'll also want to know if these new visitors are part of your target audience and interested in your sites content. That leads to the second piece…

    2) Returning Visitors: Ratio of visits to unique visitors.

    3) Page/Content Depth: Ratio of pageviews to visitors at the page or content level.

    This will allow you to analyze not only which page or content areas are your most popular, but also see them in comparison to the overall pageviews of your site. Trending this overtime will show you what content is building momentum and what content is getting stale.

  32. 32

    Hi Avinash,

    it seems like I arrived late at the party this time… Anyway, I liked your post.

    In the light of your writings I decided to publish one of eSnips' graphs in my Web Analytics Graph collection. It shows how I compare six months of data from the "Length of Visit" feature of Google Analytics using Excel.

    I hope you like it (remember to click on 'Original Size'): http://tinyurl.com/ysewz9

  33. 33

    I use Google Analytics to make my site better and more popular. It helps to evaluate your customers' needs and expectations.

  34. 34
    Alder says:

    pls write article on kpi’s of lead site

  35. 35
    Bhaskar Sarma says:

    I have been looking over this blog since the last few days, and man oh man, has it ever been boring once? For making a supposedly dry subject like Web analytics sexy you are definitely the man.Many have said it, but guess it does not hurt to repeat the truth-this blog is great for anyone who is remotely interested in the field. For a newbie like me, where I was expecting stuffy definitions and preachings, I got witty conversation and tongue-in-cheek humor, the kind you indulge in after a great meal with friends. Thanks.

  36. 36
    James says:

    This article is just what I needed to refocus my efforts after a new site launch.

    If only working with our web designers were so easy.

  37. 37
    Adam Clark says:

    This is great information for a small company like mine with limited marketing dollars. I've been struggling to put a quantitative value on my website. The analytics tool will really help me understand how many people are using my site and to what degree it is helping them, and my business.

  38. 38
    Peter V Cook says:

    Several people pointed out the problem where GA attributes one page viewers as being on the site for 0 seconds. To keep this from skewing the data, especially the length of visit statistic, I'd recommend creating a segment that filters bounces out. Such as: Bounces Less than or equal to 0

  39. 39
    Yass Ahm says:

    Hey Avinash,

    I manage the analytics to some pharmaceutical drugs' websites.

    Here is the issue I'm having; our sites are part support/part information/part brand web sites. To my knowledge, pharmaceutical sites do not perfectly fit the mold of anything that you've written on previously. I would love to hear your wisdom in suggestions on how to measure success for pharmaceutical sites such as byetta.com, which is one of the sites we manage.

    Thanks for having this blog and being so relavant and easily accessible.

  40. 40

    Yass: I am afraid I have not done a review of pharma sites, but the principles I would use would be similar to the one I used in this post:

    Web Analytics Success Measurement For Government Websites

    Perhaps you can follow the same mental model. Good luck!

    Avinash.

  41. 41
    Elaine says:

    Hi Avinash, this is a great blog and I really enjoy your discussion on success measurement.

    After defining the success of a website at a site level, do you have any thoughts or suggestions on how to measure the contributions of the different features on a site to the site's success?

    The goal is to compare the feature contribution to the site's success to help optimize site design and future feature investment – build more features like which of the existing features and remove what features on the site.

    Assuming that we cannot use experimentation to measure the feature contribution here. What metrics would you recommend to use for this contribution measurement? What approaches of the analysis would you suggest? I'd appreciate your thoughts and wisdom on this topic.

    Thanks!

  42. 42
    Vidyut says:

    This post gave me some major insights as to how I can dig into all that data.

    Another useful way I found was to look at the bounce rate for different browsers. I found that a lot of my traffic came from older versions of firefox and had a 100% bounce rate. That made me realize that my fancy theme downgraded beautifully for the dreaded IE, but was hassling the older Firefox users :(

    Simply using a plugin to change the theme to default for those older browsers till I could fix it seems to have created a miracle for the bounce rate.

    Thanks. You saved me quite a bit of traffic.

  43. 43

    I appreciate Brian's recommendation that bloggers shouldn't obsess over bounce rates. I had been mystified over my GA stats that showed page view numbers with lots of zero time-spent visits and 100% bounce rates. Happy to have run across this article and also Avinash's other article http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2008/01/standard-metrics-revisited-time-on-page-and-time-on-site.html.

  44. 44
    Carol Butler says:

    Thanks for your tips on setting up analytics for non-commercial sites. I'm doing a site chronicling my travels through Southern Indiana, and, as a retired librarian, it keeps me on my toes with local research. I'm also a photography buff, so I include my own photographs of the sights I see.

    I watch the analytics just to see if anyone is watching, and they are! I'm hoping to get better so that I really am providing a valuable reference.

    c.butler

  45. 45
    Mark says:

    Hi Avinash, I realize this post was from long ago, but since the comment is still open, I thought I'd post a question and hopefully you'll come back and revisit this topic (perhaps a new post?)…

    Regarding the Loyalty report, you said it shows "During the reporting time period how often do "people" ("visitors") visit my website?" Unless the definition has changed since 2007, it really looks like the report is categorizing type of visits based their previous visiting history.

    So the 1, 2, 3 times buckets characterize visitors who has (including their current visit) visited the site 1 2 or 3 times. Applying this idea further, the 200+ times bucket describes number of visit by very experienced visitors, but it does not necessary describe people who has visited the site 200 times in the reporting period. If I've visited the site 199 times previously, outside of the reporting period, and my 200th visit happened to be w/in the reporting period, my visit would register in the 200+ bucket, right?

    That probably did not sound not as straightforward as it should, but I hope you understand what I'm getting at. Can you either confirm or deny my assumption of the loyalty report?

    Thank you so much!

  46. 46
    Gem Webb says:

    I'd love to see a follow up tutorial on how to tie Google Webmaster Top Traffic Driving Keywords to Google Analytic Visitor Loyalty insights. This would show a lot of things that could enhance goals of content websites.

    Thanks Avinash!

  47. 47
    Quoc Le says:

    I found your valuable article while struggling for our product direction.

    I do e-commerce though, but still feel the root for success is in these metrics. After all, customer satisfaction is the biggest signature for quality of a site.

    Thanks.

  48. 48
    George Tobin says:

    Great article- thanks for the insight and psychadelic borders!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] This is a quick post. The goal is to help all you GA users that read Avinash's most recent post about measuring success for non-e-commerce sites. Avinash lays out three recommendations including: 3. Segment the data! For Visitor Loyalty or Length of Visit what are the most important acquisition sources? What are the keywords that drive valuable segments of traffic to the website? As you look at longer time periods what pieces of content do people with longer visits consume? And so on and so forth. Segmentation is key to insights that will drive action. [...]

  2. [...]
    Web analytics expert Avinash Kaushik has recently written an exploring blog entry exploring how certain elements of Google Analytics can be used to set up useful metrics on non-ecommerce websites. Even if you don't use Google Analytics as a tool his suggestions apply broadly.

    Kaushik zeros in four default Google Analytics metrics – Loyalty, Recency, Length of visit, and Depth of visit – as being of greatest importance to those who don’t fit the ecommerce mould (which is much of the web analytics market).

    The first two of these – Loyalty and Recency – are important because they tell you what proportion of your userbase are regulars and how frequently they might expect to see new, expanded or enhanced content on your site. Every museum should be trying to increase the number of ‘regulars’ and convert casual visitors to regulars. Regulars are far more likely to engage deeply with your content – especially interactive content.

    The last two of these – Length and Depth of visit – are useful because they tell you how far users go into your site. Most of us probably already took at, and perhaps even report, ‘average time on site’ or ‘median time on site’, but breaking this down further, and by user segment or areas of the site and entry points can give you a lot more information.

    What do you measure and report?
    [...]

  3. The Many Ways of Validating the Customer Experience…

    Someone at Sports Illustrated is clearly paying attention to the latest trends in online surveying. They've come up with a survey front-end to tabulate the first ever (to my knowledge) Fan Value Index. They're asking fans to rate elements of……

  4. [...] Web AnalyticsAvinash Kaushik takes a look at how to measure the success of a website that is not in directly in the e-commerce or direct lead generation business, such as news organizations, blogs and portals. [...]

  5. [...] Here's a great post from Avinash Kaushik for those of you not selling products: I Got No Ecommerce. How Do I Measure Success? [...]

  6. I Got No Ecommerce. How Do I Measure Success…

    4 metrics for websites that deliver content not commerce: 1) loyalty, 2) recency, 3) length of visit, and 4) depth of visit….

  7. [...] Avinash/Occam's Razor: I Got No Ecommerce. How Do I Measure Success? [...]

  8. [...] If you have a non-ecommerce website do this: I Got No Ecommerce. How Do I Measure Success? [...]

  9. [...] Se non hai un sito di e-commerce, fai quello che è scritto qui: I Got No Ecommerce. How Do I Measure Success? [...]

  10. [...]
    Les utilisateurs veulent-ils trouver un formulaire pour le télécharger rapidement? Veulent-ils plutôt comprendre les caractéristiques d’un nouveau programme gouvernemental? Ou comparer les types de vaccins contre la grippe ah1n1? C’est ainsi qu’il pourrait être souhaitable de générer un fort taux de rebond, une durée de visites très courte, et une loyauté très faible, tout comme il pourrait être préférable de mesurer le contraire.
    [...]

  11. [...]
    Most Loyalty or Recency reports are restricted to a single dimension. Individual numbers are grouped into buckets to form a distribution chart where each bucket represents a segment with a range of values, with the number of visits aggregated for each segment. These reports let you answer a number of really good questions (e.g. How do I measure success), but the golden nugget in segmentation appears when you explore how one segmentation set interacts with another.
    [...]

  12. [...] I got no ecommerce. How do I measure success? by Avinash [...]

  13. [...]
    Unlike a technical support website or a news website or a blog, a “brand” site is not merely relying on hits, it relies on online outcomes, usually purchases. The aforementioned sites rely on pure visitor statistics because they want to prove traffic statistics because ad rates, the way “content” sites make their money is by selling ads based on the number of visitors their site generates. You can measure the four metrics under the “Visitor Loyalty” button in Google Analytics (or in your favorite web analytics application). The four metrics are: Loyalty, Recency, Length of Visit, Depth of Visit. The goal is to use web analytics data to interpret success of a visit to your website.
    [...]

  14. [...]
    Even if you don't have an e-commerce site, there are some key metrics that can provide you with great insight into your site's effectiveness. While it was written several years ago, this post by Avinash Kaushik provides some great recommendations for the goals and KPIs you should be tracking.
    [...]

Add your Perspective

*