The Very Best Digital Metrics For 15 Different Companies!

Colors The very best analysts distill, rather than dilute. The very best analysts focus, when most tend to scatter. The very best analysts display critical thinking, rather than giving into just what’s asked of them. The very best analysts are comfortable operating with ambiguity and incompleteness, while all others chase perfection in implementation / processing / reports. The very best analysts know what matter’s the most are not the insights from big data but clear actions and compelling business impact communicated simply.

The very best analysts practice the above principles every day in every dimension of their jobs. When I interview candidates, tt is that practice that I try to discern carefully. When I see evidence of these qualities in any candidate, my heart is filled with joy (and the candidate’s inbox is filled with a delightful job offer).

This post shares one application of the above skills.

People ask me this seemingly simple question all the time: What Key Performance Indicators should we use for our business? I usually ask in return: What are you trying to get done with your digital strategies?

From experience, I know that there is no one golden metric for everyone. We are all unique snowflakes! :) Hence the optimal answer to the question comes from following a five-step process to build out the Digital Marketing and Measurement Model.

But, what if we did not have that opportunity? What if I was pushed to answer that question with just a cursory glance at their digital existence?

While it is a million times less than ideal, I can still come up with something good based on my distillation skills, application of critical thinking, comfort in operating in ambiguity and prioritizing what will likely help drive big actions. It won’t be perfect, but that is the entire point of this post. It is important, even critical, that we know how to operate in such a environment.

To impress you with the breadth and depth of possibilities, I'm going to take 15 completely different digital companies and share what are the very best key performance indicators (metrics) for each. I don't know these companies intimately, just like you all I have is access to their digital existence. That's what makes it such a great exercise of the aforementioned skills.


In the past I’ve shared a cluster of metrics that small, medium and large businesses can use as a springboard…

These are great starting points, but there is an assumption that based on your expertise and business knowledge that you’ll be able to personalize these.

The challenge I want to take on is to be specific in my recommendations, and to share how we can be very nimble and agile.

You’ll see three consistent patterns in the thinking expressed below (I encourage you to consider adopting them as well).

1. You’ll notice that I ask the five questions that help me identify the higher order bits related to the company. This is critical. They are from my post The Biggest Mistake Web Analysts Make… And How To Avoid It!

2. I am a passionate believer in focusing on the Macro AND Micro-Outcomes. It is the only way to ensure your leadership is not trapped in the let’s solve for only 2% of our business success thinking.

3. It pains me how quickly silos emerge in every company. There are Search people and Content people and Landing Page Optimizers and Cart fixers and Attribution Specialists and more. Everyone solves for their own silo, and IF everyone delivers you get to a local maxima. #tearsofpain One way of removing silos and focusing on the entire business is to leverage Acquisition, Behavior and Outcome metrics. This will allow, nay force, our senior business leaders to see the complete picture, see more of cause and effect, and create incentives for the disparate teams to work together.

A small change I’ll make in this post is that when I recommend the metrics, I’ll follow the Outcomes | Behavior | Acquisition structure. I’m reversing the order because when you talk to Senior Executives, they first, sadly sometimes only, care about all the moolah. We bend to this reality.

Hold me accountable to the above three patterns, if you see a mistake… please let me know via the comment form below.

Also, it is unlikely that I’ll have perfect answers for all 15 businesses below. Please chime and let me know what you would use instead or simply how would you improve the collection of metrics for each type of company.


Let’s look at 15 completely different business, and pick just six metrics (two each for A, B and O) that would be the very best ones to measure their digital success. The goal is for each company’s Google Data Studio to not look like a CDP (customized data puke), but to be a focused strategic dashboard with an emphasis on IABI.

If you want to play along. Don’t read what I’ve chosen. Click on the site link, go browse around, go to their social pages, checkout the mobile app, then write down the six metrics you would choose. Then, read on to see what I picked. You’ll discover immense learnings in the gaps between each set of choices (and share yours with me in comments below!).

Ecommerce: Betabrand

I love Betabrand. Their clothes and accessories are eclectic. The brand has a joy that is infectious. And, I’ve been impressed at how they’ve innovated when it comes to what business they really are in.

Here are six O, B, A metrics I would recommend for Betabrand’s strategic dashboard:

Outcomes: Revenue | Ideas Funded
Behavior: Path Length | Cart Abandonment Rate
Acquisition: Assisted Conversions | Share of Search

Every ecommerce site has to obsess about Revenue, hence I use that as the Macro-Outcome. After a consideration of their business evolution, I picked Ideas Funded as the important micro-outcome.

I love driving strategic emphasis on Path Length for larger ecommerce sites as it encourages an obsession away from one-night stands which is the standard operating model for most sites. The implications of Path Length will force a broader analysis of the business, which is harder and hence you'll hire smarter analysts (#awesome). I feel Cart Abandonment is such an overlooked metric, it has tentacles into everything you are doing!

No decent ecommerce entity can live without a hard core focus on acquisition strategies that are powered by out-of-sights from Assisted Conversions data. Finally, Search (organic and paid) continues to be one of the largest contributor of traffic on mobile and desktop. Analyzing your Share of Search, from context you can glean from competitive intelligence tools), is extremely valuable.

Six simple insanely powerful metrics, simple business booming strategic dashboard.

What’s most important above is the thinking on display, the approach to identifying what’s absolutely essential, and an obsession with the higher-order bits. You swap out Ideas Funded for something relevant, and the above six can be used by any large ecommerce business.

A quick best practice.

You’ll also segment these metrics by your most important priorities.

For example, your company is shifting aggressively into leveraging Machine-Learning in your marketing strategies and hence have made a shift to Smart Display Campaigns a huge priority. Wonderful. You would segment the Assisted Conversions report by your Smart Display Campaigns to validate the power of Machine Learning. Remember: All data in aggregate is crap, segment or suck.

For the rest of this post, I’m going to try really hard to stay with the non-segmented metrics as it is much harder to pull that off. But on occasion I’ll mention the segment that would need more analytical focus as I believe it would yield a higher percentage of out-of-sights. You’ll see that on display in parenthesis (for example below).

Small Business Ecommerce: Lefty’s Sports Cards & Collectibles 

What if you are a tiny local business in a narrow niche, should you use the same approach as Betabrand? No. Always adapt to what’s most important and sensible for you (every measurement decision you make has a cost!).

Within a few minutes of visiting Lefty’s site – put on your sunglasses first – it will be clear that Lefty’s does not really care about their website. You can still put together a quick dashboard that will allow Jim and Bob to make smarter decisions by understanding the importance of their digital presence. Here's how they could invest their limited budget smartly:

Outcomes: Autograph Pre-orders | Email Signups
Behavior: Unique Page Views (Gallery) | Bounce Rate (Mobile)
Acquisition: Visits | Click-to-delivery Rate

When my kids and I go meet their baseball heroes for autographs, we always book online. Hence the macro-outcome. Additionally, it is pretty clear from their site that email is a very big deal for them – and an ideal cheap marketing / acquisition strategy for them – hence the micro-outcome is Email signups.

Lefty's stinks when it comes to user experience, even more so on mobile. Hence, I elevated Bounce Rate to a KPI (something I advice against). With the assumption that Galleries drive a lot of people to sign up, the value of UPVs rise in stature.

For a small business Visits are an important metric, even 500 more Visits a week can be huge. Since email is so important as an acquisition channel (and since likely nothing else works for them), I choose one of my three favorite email marketing metrics, CTDR.

Though we have looked at only a couple businesses, I hope you are starting to see common patterns in the approach to identify KPIs. Focus on what’s actually important from a strategy perspective. Macro and Micro-Outcomes. A focus on getting a sense for what the business is actually doing to make the hard choices needed to get to the perfect A, B, O metrics.

A quick best practice.

The metrics you elevate to Key Performance Indicators rarely stay there forever – that would be suicide. You’ll go through the normal metrics lifecycle

If you truly create strategic dashboards, follow the complete process above every six months. On the other hand, if your dashboards are CDPs (customized data pukes), be honest with yourself, I recommend doing this every three months.

B2B / Enterprise Sales: Salesforce

Very little B2B selling is data driven, this gives me profound grief. Mostly because in a B2B context we can deliver such an amazing impact! We as in digital marketers, salespeople, support people, analysts. Let me come back to that thought in a moment, here’s what I would recommend we measure for Salesforce:

Outcomes: Lead Conversion Rate (Visitor) | Trailheads Certified
Behavior: Page Value | Session Quality 
Acquisition: Visitors (Mobile) | Click-thru Rate (Paid)

Since every SINGLE thing of customer value at ends with the same gosh darn lead gen form, we measure Leads. :) We focus on the better conversion rate definition, divide it by Visitors (or Users in GA). It creates an incentive to focus on people, and give each individual visitor the breathing room they need to convert (the burden then shifts to the company to be able to think smarter when it comes to the experience and incentives). I choose Trailhead Certified as the micro-outcome as there are multiple points of value from the Trailheads program (lower support costs, higher retention, faster time to value for clients etc.).

The site has tons and tons of content, almost haphazardly so. Hence for behavior the magical Page Value metric. It will help Salesforce hold every piece of content accountable for delivering business impact (macro or/and micro). Session Quality leverages machine learning to provide Salesforce with behavioral analysis to help personalize the user experience and customize off-site marketing experience. It is a cool KPI you should explore for businesses of any kind.

Mobile is massively undervalued by most B2B companies (including SF), hence the acquisition emphasis there. CTR puts the emphasis on right message to the right person at the right time.

B2B analytics are insanely sexy and exciting. Yes. Really. Please be creative in your analytics efforts, and don’t take no for an answer when it comes to the value of analytics. Don’t accept the excuse oh but all the sales come via phone or I convert at industry events or our buyers are old school! 

A quick best practice.

Push. But, be picky, focus on big important pieces. For example, Salesforce spends tons of people/money on social media posting/activity and you can see this on display on their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social platforms. A cursory review will demonstrate that a low double digit number of humans engage with this massive amount of content Salesforce publishes. Almost all that investment is wasted (and don't even get me started on the opportunity cost!).

Yet, you won’t notice it in my KPIs. Yes, their current social strategy not great use of time or money, but we have bigger fish to fry. Make tough choices.

Newspapers: Tampa Bay Times

I am a huge political junkie and it truly breaks my heart that newspapers are dying. I pay monthly subscriptions for the Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post, The New Yorker and National Geographic. We are a better humanity thanks to the work of journalists, I hope the industry finds a sustainable business model.

You’ll see my pet peeves about what media entities don’t measure currently in my recommendations:

Outcomes: New Subscriptions | My Edition Signups 
Behavior: Recency | Unique Page Views (Content Groups)
Acquisition: Visits (Referrals) | % New Visits

With advertising revenue in a tailspin, New Subscriptions are more important than ever and hence that's our macro-outcome KPI. I have a massive bias against the current click-bait, let’s go viral, “hot story of the moment” traffic. I humbly believe the answer is to solve for loyalty, which if we don’t suck at it, will drive New Subs. Hence, the micro-outcome choice is My Edition Signups. It forces TBT to assess if people find the site valuable enough to open an account, and is TBT then personalizing the experience enough to drive loyalty.

Continuing the obsession with deeper relationships… TBT is a newspaper that’s updated 80k times a day, how does the Recency distribution look like? I visit the New Yorker 8 times each day on average (closer relationship, higher perception of value, and as a result I’m a paying subscriber). Our second behavior metric, Unique Page Views, helps quantify content consumption.

Here's a lovely graph, from one of my older posts, that would be immensely valuable in trying to find the balance between content production and content consumption.

I would tweak it a bit. For each section of the site, Unique Page Views vs. Amount of Content published in that section. It provides critical food for thought in trying to balance what content and people does it need more of and less of.

In picking acquisition metrics I'm trying to counterbalance my bias to have deeper individual relationships over time. Visits – with an emphasis on referrals, with a deeper segmentation of social and mobile because of how humans get content these days – and % New Visits to grow.

A quick best practice.

You are always going to have biases. It is ok. Invest in becoming aware of them. And, when you catch yourself taking actions due to those biases, correct for them in the best way possible. In the above case, I counterbalanced for my bias in Behavior and Outcomes by choosing against my bias in the Acquisition section.

Charity/Non-Profits: The Smile Train

As some of you know, 100% of the proceeds from both of my books are donated to charity. Thus far, well over $100,000 each to The Smile Train, Doctors Without Borders and Ekal Vidyalaya. Thanks for buying my books.

Digital is a valuable component of The Smile Train’s strategy, here’s how we can measure effectiveness…

Outcomes: Donations (Online, Tracked phone calls) | Cause Related Clicks
Behavior: Amplification Rate | Completed Views (Videos, Stories)
Acquisition: Visitors (Geo) | Clicks (Social)

Donations, straightforward. Of all the micro-outcomes the one that was really innovative (and trackable!) was the Cause Related Marketing effort. So clever of them to become a part of people’s lives to raise money rather than the usual annual donation.

Charities can only market themselves so much, they have to figure out how to get the rest of us to do it for them. They have great content, if we believe in them then ST has to get us to amplify it for them. I love the stories they have, there is the obligatory collection of social links on the top, but they don’t overtly ask you to amplify. How about if I scroll through most of the story then a subtle pop-up from the bottom-right asking me to amplify via my social channels? I can get them to more people like me, more donations. Hence, Amplification Rate is my first behavior metric (to incentivize both ST and site visitors). Smile Train has precious resources, leverage event tracking to measure completed views of all the content is a fabulous way to drive a persistent focus on content optimization.

Charities have opinions about where their donors come from, I recommend a Geo segmentation strategy to understand Visitors to the site to broaden the leadership's horizons (literally!). You can of course segment this by other elements. Social is a big part for every charity. To avoid Smile Train peanut-buttering their social strategy, measuring Social Clicks is a really sound way to understand where to put more/less effort.

A quick best practice.

Digital strategy for nonprofits should be more innovative than what you currently see. For example, for me the coolest lesson of Bernie 2016 is the mobile fundraising innovation. So, so, so many clever things done that charities should learn from and implement when it comes to their mobile strategy (to complement their 1961 strategy of text Red Cross to 12347 to donate $10).

Pharmaceutical: Humira 

There are some restrictions on selling prescription drugs in the US. This places some limits in terms of what we can track in web analytics tools. Not just PII, which we can’t track anyway, but the ability to use anonymous cookies for remarketing so on and so forth. Still, we can provide transformative KPIs in our Pharma practice:

Outcomes: Humira Complete Signups | Doctor Lookups 
Behavior: Unique Page Views (Condition) | Visitor Status (Login)
Acquisition: Visits (TV) | Click-Share (Search)

You can get tons of enticing stuff if you sign up for Humira Complete, including a Savings Card, and clearly the brand gets a lot out of it. Hence that'll be our macro-outcome. There are lots of micro-outcomes, in this case given most Pharma companies are still in the early stages of savvy, I choose something close to making money, Doctor Lookups. I know Pharma companies also value prospective patients downloading the Discussion Guides which could also be a micro-outcome (in this case you get that after you do the Lookup).

The Humira site solves for 10 different conditions. That makes UPVs a great KPI to get deep visibility into what content is being consumed. The site hopes to drive a beyond the prescription connection with patients, with loads of resources behind the login. Hence, we use custom variables to track logged in status and we can analyze a whole host of valuable behavior and optimize our investments.

Humira does not believe in digital (ok, I’m just teasing them) but they love, love, love TV. Analysis that leverages their complete media plan in conjunction with site traffic will help provide one important measure of TV effectiveness. Ditto for any other major offline blitzes that Abbvie is running. Our last piece of the puzzle is AdWords Click-Share. There were 1,592,527 searches for Ankylosing Spondylitis, how many those clicks did you get? 1.2%. Great. Now shoot for 20% if you actually believe your drug is effective!

A quick best practice.

There is only one channel where our ability to discern intent is super-strong: Search. On Yandex. On Baidu. On Google. On Seznam. It is a little silly to think of Search in archaic terms like “Brand” and “Category.”

Think in terms of clusters of intent that you can solve for. See. Think. Do. Care. Search will solve for Think and Do. Sometimes your “Brand” terms will have weak commercial intent – in that case you should have Think Targeting and Think Content marketing strategies. Likewise your “Category” terms might reflect strong commercial intent, in that case Do marketing strategies will allow you to win bigger.

Let your competition be lame and play by a 1997 worldview. You take advantage of them by living in 2017!

As the post is getting long, understatement of the decade, let me just make recommendations for metrics for rest of teh businesses, and let you explore the site to figure out why they make the most sense in each case.

Government: California Department of Motor Vehicles

I love governments!

Outcomes: Online Applications/Renewals | Downloads
Behavior: Visits with Search | Customer Satisfaction (by Primary Purpose)
Acquisition: Visitors (Channels) | Visitors (City)

Task Completion by Primary Purpose is my absolute favorite metric for any website (all the ones above). It made most sense here. It is a part of my simple three questions that make the greatest survey questions ever.

A quick best practice.

A much more detailed collection of recommendations I’d written for the Government of Belgium a little while back: Web Analytics Success Measurement For Government Websites.

Stock Photography: Shutterstock

I spend hours looking for inspiration for the stock photos that end up on my LinkedIn Influencer channel posts.

Outcomes: Lifetime Value (Revenue Per User) |  Contributor Signups
Behavior: Cohort Analysis | Top Event (by Category) 
Acquisition: Visitors | Assisted Conversions

For someone as savvy as Shutterstock, Cohort Analysis at the intersection of incredible behavior analysis and optimizing acquisition across media channels.

Movie Studio: The Fate of the Furious

I hear it is Oscar-worthy. : )

Outcomes: Ticket Purchases | Completed Trailers 
Behavior: Unique Page Views | Outbound Clicks (All Access+) 
Acquisition: Visits | CTR (Paid)

One shift in movie sites is that the metrics and strategy have distinct phases, per-release, post-release, off-theaters (DVD, digital sales). You’ll have to have three sets of metrics as outcomes and marketing strategies change.

Mobile Gaming: Jam City 

Raise your hands if you love mobile games!

Outcomes: Downloads (by Store) |  Support Requests
Behavior: Videos Watched | Goal Flow (Source)
Acquisition: Click-Share (Mobile Search) | Visitors (Similar Audiences)

We are only measuring the value the website (mobile and desktop). If we had to measure the Apps itself, there would be an entire new cluster of metrics including 30-day MAUs, Lifetime Value, Sessions/User, so and and so forth.

Automotive Dealer: Nissan Sunnyvale 

Electric cars FTW!

Outcomes: No Brainer Price Requests | Service Appointments 
Behavior: Unique Page Views (Purpose Type) | Sessions With Search 
Acquisition: Visitors | Paid Clicks (by Media)

I have to admit I’m usually pretty torn between tracking online leads (no brainer request in this case) vs. leads via Chat (very prominent on most dealer sites) or Phone (very common). Often Chat and Phone can be more valuable (and numerous) than the online leads.

Food / Beverages: McCormick 

If there is an industry stuck in 1920s, it is the food companies (of all types). Their core value proposition from digital is still recipes – a marketing strategy as old as packed food. And not even interactive digital-first recipes – the same boring presentation and text as you’ll find on the back of the box!

There is so, so, so, so much more that food, beverages and restaurant companies can do. Digital is all pervasive in our lives, food is something we love and adore (and a top five category in content consumption on YouTube!), mobile allows these brands to be ever closer to us… all that’s needed is a pinch of imagination. PopChips and Chobani are two that show imagination with their content strategies, hopefully they inspire others.

Let’s see what we can measure if we had to do it for a great old brand McCormick.

Outcomes: Shopping Lists Created | Reviews Submitted
Behavior: Frequency | Events (Content Type)
Acquisition: Visitors (Referrals) | Clicks (Remarketing)

I came close to using Login Status for behavior, it would provide fascinating insight into the ability of McCormick to create loyalty, even brand evangelists. But, a quick peek at the competitive intelligence data shows that it is seems it is not all that important (barely any people login). If I were at McCormick I would look at the GA data and double-validate that. If it seems to be a big enough number, we can use Login Status as a segmentation strategy.

Tech Support: Dell US

Digital analytics for a tech support site tends to be a lot of fun, primarily because you can directly drive costs down and increase repurchase rate (loyalty) – thus hitting both sides of the balance sheet causing your CFO to give you a thousand kisses. 

Outcomes: Task Completion Rate (split by Primary Purpose, and Direct vs. Community support) | System Updates (Drivers, Diagnostics etc.)
Behavior: Page Views per Visit | Visits to Resolution 
Acquisition: Visits | Search Click-Share

A long, long time ago, when I was but a youth, I had a view on this topic… Measuring Success for a Support Website.

Social | YouTube: Prudential

In case your primary digital existence consists of a YouTube channel (I hope that is not the case, you want to have a solid owned AND rent platform strategies).

Outcomes: Subscribers | Brand Consideration
Behavior: Views (by Content Type) | Conversation Rate 
Acquisition: Views | Sources

I have a detailed primer on comprehensive YouTube success. It has more metrics you can use, if indeed you are a YouTube only existence.

Social | Facebook: Priceline

Priceline is a typical brand, and their page illustrates why an organic strategy is worth almost nothing on Facebook. You can easily validate that statement. Go ahead and click on the link above. As you scroll, you'll notice that the numbers you see for each post are less than tiny. This applies for all companies, not just Priceline.

Facebook is an important strategy for your company, just let your focus be on a Paid Media strategy and measure success as you would any paid strategy.

But, if like Priceline you continue to have your organic content strategy on Facebook (or Twitter)…

Outcomes: Page Likes | Brand Consideration 
Behavior: Amplification Rate | Conversation Rate 
Acquisition: Visits | Paid Likes

You can do a lot more of course, if Facebook is your only digital outpost (though, again, I hope that is not the case as you need to have an owned and rented platform strategy)…

More here: Facebook Advertising / Marketing: Best Metrics, ROI, Business Value.

There you are. Fifteen completely different types of digital businesses that we can measure immensely effectively, usually uniquely, with the rich collection of data we have in any free/paid digital analytics solution.

I hope that you discovered new valuable metrics that will become KPIs to measure your Acquisition, Behavior and Outcome efforts. But, what I hope you’ll take away more is the application of critical thinking, to be more comfortable operating in ambiguity and bring ruthless focus and prioritization what is most likely to drive big action. You don’t have to get it all right the first time. Implement. Evaluate. Kill/Keep. Improve. Rinse. Repeat.

Carpe diem!

As always, it is your turn now.

If you picked six metrics (two each for A, B, O) for any site above, will you please share them via comments below? Is there a metric above that you particularly love/hate, why? Is there a metric you would use instead of something I used? Is there a type of site you have had a hard time picking metrics that matter the most? You’ve surely noticed some patterns in what I tend to like and don’t (notice, no time metrics above!), will you share your thoughts if you feel there is a sub-optimal bias there?

I look forward to your guidance to improve what I know, fill in gaps in my knowledge and the wisdom you have that I completely overlooked. Please share via comments.

Thank you.


  1. 1
    Fred Klaas says

    Three of the metrics you recommended were brand new to me. It makes your point that we sometimes fall into looking at things the same way and tend not to look afresh at what is now possible.

    It was a valuable exercise for me to look at companies that are new to me like Pharma, Movies, and compare KPIs. I ended up with different ones.

    Thanks for a great post.

  2. 2
    Prem Nath Vishwakarma says

    Worthy Read!

    I am little surprised with the metrics and specially for Shutterstock & Priceline. When they come from your experience it helps push our thinking in new directions. Lots of goodness here.

  3. 3
    Dave Chadderton says

    Great rundown of KPIs especially in relation to the online marketing industry. Too many in our industry throw these TLAs around without actually doing the analysis.

    Recently one of our clients hired a PR company – they posted 249 Tweets which resulted in 267 reactions on Twitter in a single month. Great KPIs … until you dig deeper and find that an employee of said PR co is responsible for 255 of the reactions. Client is actually paying for 12 tweet reactions.

  4. 4

    Lots to take in and consider but superb perspective.

    Will read and re-read…food for thought.

    Thank you.

  5. 5
    Raj Vysetty says

    Avinash – This paragraph resonated for sure. Thanks as always, for your perspective.

    "The very best analysts distill, rather than dilute. The very best analysts focus, when most will tend to gather. The very best analysts are display critical thinking, rather than giving into what’s asked. The very best analysts are comfortable operating with ambiguity and incompleteness, while all others chase perfection in implementation / processing / reports. The very best analysts are know what matter’s the most are not the insights from big data but clear actions and compelling business impact from usually a smaller subset of key data"

  6. 6
    Michelle says

    Great article and insight Avanish.

    I am in dental marketing. Tracked KPI's include: number of new dental patient conversions, new patient referral source, revenue generated by referral source, website traffic, behavior, depth of engagement, and content by state (MN).

    Lastly, I track and transcribe all calls that originate from the website. Not sure if there any other key metrics that a dentist office should track?


    • 7

      Michelle: You have a macro outcome Patient Conversions (great!), Revenue is very adjacent to adds a bit of good context, and Phone Calls are a good macro as well. All good. I would add a micro outcome (Email signups? New accounts opened? Appointments requested? Reviews written?)

      Depth of engagement is Page Views/Visit? If yes, awesome. Some understanding of type of content would be great. Ex our dentist has content on treatments, reviews, a blog, forms for download and videos. Page Views/Visit won't quite capture which of these are most valuable. You can also use Page Value – which gets to this a little faster.

      For Acquisition you have Traffic (use Visitors if you can) and you have segmented it by referral source, this is great. If you have any paid acquisition strategies, then Clicks or Click-Thru Rate would be a good one to have.

      Hope this helps!


      • 8
        Michelle Nun says

        Thanks for your response! It was reassuring that my client reports are on point. I in fact do track appointments requested, reviews, etc…but not page value directly.

        I do record dental services rendered for each new patient conversion, track each new patient's activity of services, revenue, and new patient referrals for a period of 24 months using CRM software.

        I also document every phone call generated from the website. I record their chief complaint, services inquired, and if they converted-was the chief compliant resolved at their first appointment using a combination of call tracking and dentists CRM software.

        Great suggestion regarding page value. I have not previously considered this idea as website visitors are predominantly only reading the pages for services that are most likely to solve their problem. Not everyone wants a root canal or a dental implant:) (both high value services)…. I will need to research more about establishing a page value metric in GA.

        Thanks again! I look forward to your next post:) Have a fabulous day!

  7. 9
    Jay Robinson says

    We are a small business.

    As we are long time readers of your blog we have been measuring macro and micro conversions. We have not had the emphasis on deep measurement of email. Your post was a good push to reorient there.

    We are also not using Page Value and plan to add that per your guidance.

    We use Time on Site as a behaviour metric, could you share a bit more why that is not a great idea?

    • 10

      Jay: Two reasons.

      Time is hard to get accurately. There is no time recorded for the last page view (and if the session only has one page view, there is no time recorded for the session).

      Time is also hard to read into, is spending a lot of time a good thing or a bad thing? Except for watching videos (active pulling of content), it is hard to determine that.


  8. 11

    Thank you for another insightful and incredibly educational post!

    I'm just curious why you normally recommend against using bounce rate as a KPI?

    Thanks so much

    • 12

      Tracy: Bounce Rate is 18 steps away from the company bottom-line (the definition of a KPI), hence I say that it is a good metric in service of a business KPI.

      Think of it this way… If your Bounce Rate goes down to 0%, you company could still go out of business. A bit of a dramatic example, but to illustrate that there are other metrics who could be improved with direct consequence on Profit/Love.


      • 13

        Very profound mindset, Avinash. I've always suspected that a high bounce rate is not necessarily a bad thing for some businesses because it's possible the visitor found the answer to their question (e.g. company phone number, directions, etc.) and left the site giving them an unusually high bounce rate.

        Also, your writing output has been great and I'm behind a post. Thanks for the email this morning I read the 4 principals twice as saved them as well. ;) It was a nice reminder to visit your site. Have a great day!

  9. 14

    Great article! Your passion for this is palpable. Thanks for your continued work in making me and everyone else better at what we do!

    Is there one of the examples above that would relate to a medium-sized retail franchise medical device company (hearing aids) like Miracle Ear []? Our site is mainly used to provide information about products and to be a resource for people who are looking for information about the location nearest to them. There are no online sales.


    P.S. Don't judge the site too harshly :). I just came on board a few months ago and our testing/optimization program is kicking off next week. Good things to come!

    • 15

      Ron: You should pick from the first two examples in the post. While you don't have a BUY NOW button, you do have requests for appointment (you can capture these through enhanced ecommerce, pass economic value as the revenue), you have the online test, you have franchise opportunities.

      You have different clusters of content (get Page Value for these) and you already know what your acquisition strategy is so pick from the first two companies and segment by what you are doing.

      Your site is nice (and Genius 2.0 seems so cool!), I'm glad you are kicking off testing to do even more.


  10. 16

    Another amazingly valuable post Avinash, as always thank you for the insight!

    I am the analytics department at a full-service digital agency that mostly serves clients in the entertainment space (movies and TV). I am very excited to see a movie studio included as an example!

    I love that you have included completed trailers as the outcome for The Fate of the Furious. This is a core microconversion for the space. I also love ticket sales as an outcome, however, from the agency-side I have found it difficult to collaborate with both internal and client stakeholders to accurately attribute ticket sales and help show economic value for the website.

    As you mentioned, metrics should be created for pre-release, post-release, off-theaters (DVD, digital sales). Social is typically a component and we set targets for conversation, amplification and applause rates for content shared during each phase. I am curious, would you recommend assigning an economic value to these social interactions?

    I also sometimes find it difficult to explain the tie from business value to metrics for our TV show clients. These clients typically have websites, newsletters and social media. They see their digital marketing channels as an extended opportunity to entertain their audience and to promote episodes. However, it can be difficult to tie-in economic value since they are mainly focused on nielsen ratings. I'm wondering, do you have any recommendation on a model that could be used to tie digital marketing to TV ratings?

    Thank you again for all you do, I'm an O.R. disciple for life!

    • 17

      Justin: One GIANT problem in these two areas is the profound lack of appreciation for the full value of digital and it's impact on driving people to watch a show/movie. We live in a fragmented attention world, and smart marketers can use digital to capture that attention is such a profitable strategy.

      To your question about measuring impact, it takes a little more work but it is possible.

      For example, with a recent project we were able to conclusively prove that every $1 spent on video ads resulted in $3.6 in ticket sales in the movie theatre. Assuming, an average American went to see the movie with one other person, that would double to $7.2. In this case, everything was for a specific marketing channel (video), we can even report it for a specific ad unit. All this was done using mobile phones, multiple data sets, qual and quant.

      We have done the same for DVD sales in stores, the impact on getting xx% more people to tune into a TV show and do on and so forth.

      To your last question: You should definitely tie it to economic value!


      • 18

        Thanks so much for your reply, Avinash!

        The results of your recent project on video ads for movies are exciting, I would really love to hear more about this and your other research in the entertainment space. Perhaps a topic for a future post? I can only hope! :)



  11. 19

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Avinash!

    Traditional brick and mortar retailers with ecommerce operations seem to be (rightfully) obsessed with estimating online-influenced in-store sales. The reality is that using online-only based ROI/ROAS metrics would under-estimate performance of their digital campaigns. In case of larger companies this level of reporting is quite an undertaking, and Walmarts of this world would have to run a variant of regression-based marketing mix models to estimate this value.

    However, smaller organizations in variety of industries (service, healthcare, and retail) can achieve much more accurate results with minimal amount of effort. What if Lefty's targeted their email subscribers with a discount coupon for an in-store purchase? Chances are their in-store sales have a higher margin rate than online sales, so per transaction profit would still be viable even after the discount offered. In addition to cross-selling opportunity, this campaign could also help Lefty’s collect more information about their shoppers by encouraging them to fill out their online profile.

    I know you have already shared your thoughts on best practices to account for offline impact of digital operations, do you have any other, more recent examples?

    Thank you!

    • 20

      Alex: It is absolutely worth Lefty's time to experiment with various online strategies that would result in offline impact. It is entirely possible that offline has, say, a higher AOV. Experiment.

      See my reply to Justin above. That's one of the newest example of what we are doing with offline impact measurement.

      I do want to emphatically state that while every analytical endeavour has a cost to it – which means some analytics endeavours are not worth doing -, tracking offline impact does not fall in the category of not worth doing. No matter how big or small your company.


      • 21

        Thank you so much for your response, Avinash!

        The field of offline attribution is still developing, could you please share more insight on your findings: "For example, with a recent project we were able to conclusively prove that every $1 spent on video ads resulted in $3.6 in ticket sales in the movie theatre. "

        What was your reporting methodology? What kind of assumptions did you make?

        Was this $ 3.6 ROI incremental, or would some of these sales occur even without digital ad campaign? Was some of the incrementality attributable to the move theater having online presence vs. marketing spend?

        (In other words did some site visitors look for the show times and landed on the video ads instead of going directly to the SEO results?)


        • 22

          Alex: I think you are referring to my comment to Justin Thomas.

          I can't share too much detail about vendors/approach and such (I hope to get permission to do so, but don't have it yet). Generically speaking, we use mobile phones and mobile advertising solutions to measure. We used test and control, and were able to track people actually buying tickets.

          To answer your question, in this case 3.6 incremental (between our test and control groups). The difference between the two was ad exposure, all other variables held constant to the greatest possible ability (with a very large sample set).


          • 23

            Thanks Avinash!

            Hopefully you would be able to secure permission and share your process of setting up this test, measuring performance, and analyzing results. I am not aware of any other publicly available reports showing online influence of offline sales.

            The closest that I was able to find is this University of California – Santa Cruz research paper, showing results for 13 big-box US retailers partnering with Google and APT, yielding $ 2.5 incremental ROAS on search advertising offline. The paper did not provide actual data sets used, size of each 15 experiments, length of these experiments, time period for attribution, variance in search terms, device type, and assumptions made:


  12. 24
    Devin Green says

    What an impressive article Avinash. I'm a long time reader of your blog and I'm constantly surprised at the breadth of your knowledge. My area of focus is on ecommerce primarily, I had a hard time trying to come up with what the best metrics might be for someone like McCormick or Movies.

    In your examples you did not have mobile apps. Do you have recommendations for best KPIs for mobile app focussed companies?

    • 25

      Devin: I have a much longer article on the this exact subject:

      ~ Magnificent Mobile Website And App Analytics: Reports, Metrics, How-to!

      My passions with apps sit in the areas of paid marketing to drive downloads (because the market is so gosh darn crowded), hence those metrics related to clicks, downloads and market share (for display, search campaigns). Organic is, at the minimum, initially hard to win. Then of course recency, and session duration metrics (the only place I love Time as a KPI!). Finally the god metrics: MAUs and Economic Value (without both you die :)).


  13. 26

    Where would you categorize Corporate sites that don't have a sales component and are largely for reputation etc?

    Gas, Oil, Pharma (non-brand) etc?

    You mention HUMIRA above but that is a branded product site for AbbVie the pharma company.

    • 27

      Dean: There are many companies we've covered in this post, including government, where there is no sales component.

      But, let's say you are talking about BP. Perhaps one of the most boring and value-deficient site in the entire Oil & Gas sector.

      Follow the process I've recommended at the top of the post. What are they trying to get done (macro and micro), how can we judge content, what acquisition might they be doing (use Similarweb to find out) that we should measure.

      Here is my suggestion based on a quick review:

      Task Completion Rate | Downloads (by Type, pdf, pptx, etc.)
      Page Value (by Purpose) | Videos Watched
      Visits (by Owned, Earned, Paid) | Click-Share

      What is amazing about this process is that we might change all of the above for Exxon Mobile, purpose and our understanding of it is key.


  14. 28

    Thank you for sharing awesome article about best web metrics for digital companies.

    We are not yet digital, we are planning for online business. This article will really helpful for our decision makers.

    Thanks again!

  15. 29
    Lisa Williams says

    I love the idea to graph Unique Page Views vs. Content in each section of the site. I immediately put it into action.

    Our management team was completely shocked at what we were pumping out as content on our business to business website vs. what our users are actually consuming. Low Unique Page Views include some of our most expensively produced content.

    Thanks for helping us save a lot of money Avinash!

  16. 30
    Martin says

    Another great and practicable post!

    I am a little bit confused about how the ABO Model fits into the Digital Marketing and Measurement Model. Is the former one a lighter version of the second one? Should I use the ABO Model to identify KPIs for each objective in the Digital Marketing and Measurement Model? Or are they completely different models?

    Thank you very much in advance and your incredible blog!

    • 31

      Martin: I'm sorry you are confused. My fault, let me try again.

      Think of ABO as a philosophy, it helps ensure our data efforts cover the entire span of the business. It allows us to find patterns and relationships in the overall experience.

      DMMM is a model you create to figure out what's important to your business, what should be measured and critical elements like segments and targets.

      When we create the DMMM, we ensure that we are covering the entire business. Let me give you the toughest example of this application, this blog! See the below picture. It shows the DMMM, and at the bottom I'll applied how it adheres to the ABO philosophy.

      Different companies will will have a different model of course.


      Occam's Razor Digital Marketing and Measurement Model

      (You can click on the image for a bigger version.)

      • 32

        Really smart, Avinash, to simplify defining KPI's. A question about your KPI's:

        What is ripple index? Is that your micro KPI?

        Is it on purpose that you don't use pagevalue per content group as a behavior KPI?

        Last question: Are you using on purpose ABO and not on customer journey level (STDC) for your KPI's?

        • 33

          Gerard: This is an older example, hence you see the influence of metrics I used at that time.

          Ripple Index is links back to the blog from other people writing about it.

          I use Page Value a lot, as you'll see in other examples, but here I'm really not trying to make money and hence I use Page Depth instead. But, your suggestion is a good one.

          ABO is more a organizing principle for Analytics, See-Think-Do-Care is my beloved overarching business framework. When I use the latter, I don't use the former.


  17. 34

    Thank you for your reply Avinash. One further question. Why pages/visit?

    And not Recency/unique Pageviews per content/category type like TBT?

    Or scroll depth (read more then 50% of content)?

    I think Page Depth is to generic!

    • 35

      Gerard: Most regular "customers" of the blog will read the latest post, perhaps comment, and then leave. This is ok, they are already on the blog's RSS feed/email etc.

      For people who truly are visitors, one way to get them to the RSS/Email route is to entice them to read more content on their first or second visit. More content read = more likely they'll perceive value = convert into "customers."

      Hence pages/visit, segmented of course by new and returning, sources, so on and so forth.


  18. 36

    Great article and insight.

    CK Abandonment Rate is something new and I haven't heard before. It will useful if Avinash provides more about this metric.

    Thanks, another helpful article :)

  19. 37
    Brandon says

    Thank you for filling this blog with what reads to be relevant insights and translatable actions!

    I'm a healthcare consultant focusing on analytics, hoping to transition to a marketing analytics role in the future. When I read your blog, I occasionally Google the metrics and industry jargon to make sense of the full message. I would sound like a squirrel if I echoed the words in your blog without actually exploring the marketing domain, hands on.

    There was a post where you linked us to your Occam's Razor Awesomeness template in Google Analytics Solutions Gallery. I don't have a GA data source to work with. Can you recommended GA data sources I can learn upon? Perhaps run your Occam's Razor Awesomeness solution upon as well?

  20. 40
    Jeremy Miller says

    I'm very thankful to you for the way you write/compose your posts. They share quite a lot of high level detail while also being able to zoom into specific detail.

    The social media focus in this post was particularly helpful. We are chasing just views on YouTube. We have to add four other metrics that will give us deeper insights. Thank you.

  21. 41
    Ivan Archer says

    Thank you for sharing the awesome article about best web metrics for digital companies.

    We are rapidly rethinking our digital approach as a business. This article will be really helpful for our decision makers as we try to figure out exactly how to know if our changes successful.

    Thanks again!

  22. 42

    Thank you Avinash,

    It's always such a pleasure to read your articles!

    Question. What's you opinion about SEO platforms, like BrightEdge, for example? Do you think it's useful tool or overpriced lame?

    • 43

      Kassandra: I'm afraid I don't have an opinion to share about SEO platforms.

      Here are a couple of things to consider as you consider any SEO vendor.

      SEO is one of the many strategies that you'll undertake to win digital. How aware is your SEO tool of other outcomes and other digital strategies?

      Any analytics tool can puke data out. How smart is your SEO tool at giving you actual Insights (not just reports/metrics) and does it do anything to recommend Actions?

      SEO has changes so, so, so much. Has your SEO tool kept pace with the new and interesting metrics to measure success – or is it still hung up on page rank or serp something or the other from 1962?

      Other stuff like that.

      Most smart companies realize SEO is maybe 20% of their digital effort, keep that in mind as you invest and if you are a Senior Leader that you invest in all 100% that will drive success.


  23. 44

    Great article.

    I'm starting with KPI's, reading this post I could get a comprehensive view of it, segmented by kinds of websites. ABO scheme is wonderful!

  24. 45
    Miles Abraham says

    Hi, I'm extremely appreciative to you for the way you compose/create your posts.

    They share a considerable amount of abnormal state detail while likewise having the capacity to zoom into particular detail.

    Thanks for your post.

  25. 46
    Sanjay says

    Great Post Avinash!

    Could you device KPI for Hotel Chain website (having over 100 hotels globally)



    • 47

      Sanjay: My first recommendation is for you to follow the recommendation in the post about The Biggest Mistake Web analysts Make. It has a step by step way how you can get to the metrics. That you can do by yourself. Alternatively, creating your own DMMM is an even better way for you to get there, though it requires you to work with the business owner.

      With that said, you can use the Ecommerce metrics I recommend for Betabrand as a starting point for your hotel chain.


  26. 48

    Hi Avinash,

    Thank you very much for bringing up this topic, it shed the light on a very interesting way of looking at metrics.

    One question I have to to you: how can I actually check Page Value and Session Quality for a company like Salesforce but with Adobe analytics?

    All the best!


    • 49

      Kasia: Your best strategy might be to ping Adobe support who can help you with your query (support is bundled in for free with your purchase).

      In the small chance that you can't have access to these metrics by default, you can also create custom metrics to do this for your account.


  27. 51

    I'm wondering what metrics you can recommend for Real Estate company?

    In your examples only Car Dealer can have similar goals and type of client but there is also few differences.

    On real estate website you can't use tools like "create my car" or something. User can search for apartment, see the photos or visualizations, get know about home plans about, check prices and send few types of contact requests (in best scenario user can book apartment).

    • 52

      Michal: For Acquisition you can use Auto or Pharma metrics (pick two of the best ones fit for your case).

      For Behavior you can measure Unique Page Views and Sessions with Search (as people will look for apartments).

      For Outcomes, you have mentioned several in your comment for micro-outcomes Watch Videos, Check Prices, Download Plans etc. For macro-outcomes you can use Contact Requests, Book Apartment, Buy Apartment (which will take some time and offline connction – which since the quantity here is low is not as hard as we might imagine).


      • 53

        "For Outcomes, you have mentioned several in your comment for micro-outcomes Watch Videos, Check Prices, Download Plans etc. For macro-outcomes you can use Contact Requests, Book Apartment, Buy Apartment (which will take some time and offline connction – which since the quantity here is low is not as hard as we might imagine)."

        I think that is very important and I'm wondering why I didn't figure it out before.

  28. 54

    Hi Avinash,

    1. Can you explain why you don't use an ABO/STDC matrix?
    Well done PPC strategies cover STDC intent and different KPI's could be choosen for ex. B and O (I don't expect see or think visitors of my website to have the same behavior as intent is different).

    2. I like the fact that you tell us to choose 2 KPI's for each marketing area (High order bits is so hard and there is so many metrics you want to track) but you don't mention here the value to choose a BFF. For ex CPA / Conversion Rate is worth, isn't it? We know that lowering CPA can't be achieve without focus on the conversion rate (or cost).

    3. GA show clearly ABO report with conversion value, rates…, but how do you define the difference between behavior and outcome? not so simple. Filling a form or saving a shopping list by a visitor can give an outcome (value) and be in the same time a expected behavior. (McCormick exemple). Do you define behavior as what is happening during a session and outcome what value it gives to your business? Or it' doesn't matter, importance is to choose the good metric? For you, does Micro-Conversion belongs to the Behavior analyse ?


    • 55


      1. ABO is a reporting framework, how to organize your dashboards and segment. S-T-D-C is a business framework, how you think. You can create reports for you S or T or D or C business strategy, you would have A, B, O metrics and segment in each.

      Also see comment #31 on this post.

      2. Across the six metrics for each category, I've included the BFFs if you look at it carefully. For example for Newspapers we have Visits and New Subs (to balance). Page Views and Recency. Etc.

      3. Here's one way to separate behaviour and outcomes. Outcomes is "as a result of the visit." Behavior is everything from landing on the site to the point an outcome occurred. Successfully saving a shopping list is hence "the result of the visit", the behaviour was arriving on some owned, earned and paid campaign (acquisition) and clicking around to find the shopping list page, adding things to it all the way up to hitting Save.

      Hope this helps.


      • 56

        Thank you Avinash for your time. It's precious.

        You are right, I consider ABO for each STDC tier.

        One of the problems that I often encounter in the explanation of the STDC framework is the perception of it as a funnel where all the audience is in a waiting "SEE" stage. Then under the influence of the marketer' actions, the audience will "wake-up" and change to "THINK" then to "DO". The consequence is that the projection of the marketing actions to be carried out is sequenced over time. (IMHO, The erroneous comparison with the AIDA model is undoubtedly one of the reasons for this perception). I try to fill that by illustrating the framework from a circle with points inside. The inner points of the circle illustrate the qualified audience. Many of these points are green (see) a number orange (think) and some red (DO). Outside this circle is a wide audience that we consider unqualified. This visualization makes it possible to better realize the quantity of people composing our "SEE" stage at a given time but also to understand that at the same time a THINK and DO audience exist too! What I like about the STDC framework is that it solves a major problem that considers the user path as unique. In a digital world where the omnichannel is reference, this framework push you to think how to sow your content or actions over these touchpoints and let your audience free to choose is journey. You cannot consider the weight of attribution in a digital world and do not follow this framework.

        Do you know the smart insight RACE framework? What do you think?
        In my opinion, it only responds to one dimension : The ABO one.


  29. 57

    Nice information. Thanks for sharing.

    One question I have to you: how can I actually check Page Value and Session Quality for a company like Salesforce but with Adobe analytics?

    All the best!

    • 58

      Nisha: I believe it should be easy for you to create a custom metric in Adobe Analytics for Page Value.

      I'm unsure if you can get Session Quality. This is simply because there is an entirely unique Machine Learning algorithm that is looking across all behaviour to predict in Google Analytics how close each session is to a transaction.

      Our peers at Adobe have a wonderful help site that you can check. Additionally there are also a number of Adobe authorized consultants you can hire to help you.


  30. 60
    Jessica Lacy says

    Don’t limit your brand universe only to some digital metrics, think more and more on how your customers feel when they interact with your brand.

    Today, the real truth of your brand is measured in the experience your customers feel. Think at brands like Apple or Zappos, the emotions that these brand created and why people choose to buy the Apple & Zappos products &services.

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