Best Metrics For Digital Marketing: Rock Your Own And Rent Strategies

GraceIn a world of infinite choice, the ability to pick critical few metrics to focus on is, well…, critical. It is the difference between plodding along, or winning big.

But choosing what to focus on is extremely hard.

You have to have a deeper understanding of the business, an expansive knowledge of what is possible (and not just inside Google/Adobe Analytics), and, this is so, so, so important, the ability to balance the now and the near future.

We all, myself included, fail so often because of the difficulty inherent in those three elements. In many cases we don't have sufficient knowledge for one and three, even if we are ok with two. And that's not because we stink. It is because often we are just the data girls/boys.

I recently had an opportunity to recommend to a group of CEOs everything they should measure for everything they should do with digital. You can imagine, in a world of infinite choice (!), this is a non-trivial challenge. I wanted the end product to be a handy-dandy list they can use to check if their employees are focused on the right things.

In this post I want to share that one-page list of the best metrics for digital content, marketing and business success with you. I hope the metrics will be helpful, but more than that I hope that the thinking behind whittling down from the infinite to the finite will be of value. If you get the think, you can definitely go out and create your own list of the critical few.

Ready to rock and roll?

Context #1: A Reminder About the Importance of ABO.

I believe in always focusing on the complete customer-business journey. In earlier posts on this blog, I've simply defined the journey as Acquisition, Behavior and Outcomes.

Each stage focuses on a unique facet of the digital business…

acquisition behavior outcomes

Are we able to efficiently find the right people and influence them? Can we deliver an incredible experience that blows the mind of our current and future customers with its sheer beauty, intelligence and simplicity? Do the customer and the company both end up with a win-win (they get joy and task completion, we get some current revenue and possibly a long term repeat customer)?

Most of the time when I look at the dashboards and reporting efforts in companies, they are usually obsessed with one of these pieces or maybe even a couple. Rarely is there an insane obsession with all three. Some of this is because we are organized in silos, no incentive to think end-to-end. At other times it is because of a lack of skill or the ability to analyze the complete journey.

Focus on all three with everything you do with digital analytics. Strive for a a balance across all three in terms of people, processes, and analytical focus.

One good way to accomplish that is to ensure you have an optimal org design, and that your Digital Marketing and Measurement Model exemplifies this balance.

Context #2: Own + Rent = Great Digital Success

I believe that if you want to win in digital, with your ABO strategy, you have to do Own really well and you have to do Rent really well.

[Bonus reading: Rent or Own? The Optimal Digital Investment Strategy]

Your primary owned channel is your website, mobile or desktop. It could also include your blog, your recommendation engines, your customer forums, and all kinds of other digital existences that you own outright. You own the domain. You own the customer relationships. You own decisions around content, creativity and evolution. You. Everything.

rent own site social great balance[1]

Your primary rented channels, at the moment, are your social existences. On Instagram, Pintrest, Google+, Vimeo, Weibo, Vkontakte and others. You are able to contribute content on these channels, you are able to engage with the audience, you are able to control the conversation/your presence a bit. But you don't own anything else (data, relationship, creativity, etc. etc.).

If you want to win on the web, you have to do both Own and Rent really well. You pretty much don't have a choice. But if you are going to suck at something, sucking at rent is preferable.

Best Digital Metrics: Own Existences/Strategies.

Close your eyes and just imagine the number of metrics you can use to measure the success of your marketing efforts. 25? 50? 68? More?

It would not surprise me. We have so many, and it is not that they are terrible. It's just that there are so many and I set myself the challenge to just focus on two metrics each for acquisition, behavior and outcomes. Just two.

Can you feel my pain? How can we just pick two? #omg

For acquisition my goal was to pick two metrics that would incentivize our teams to behave in the most optimal manner. I abandoned CPC (I hate that metric, it incentivizes short-term thinking of the worst kind). I even abandoned CPA (not enough focus on what makes the ads good). And many others.

I settled on Clicks and Assists.

Clicks because in this case I'm more obsessed about performance marketing. Clicks will get you and I to focus on ad copy, bids, other creative elements, precise targeting (or retargeting), ad placement (quality score for search!), and so many other things that go into making sure that our ad does not simply show up to the party but also entices a physical reaction (Click!).

Assists because most marketers continue to exhibit suicidal tendencies by sticking with last-click attribution. The best way to stink at digital today is to do last-click attribution (and the analytics vendors don't help, last-click is default… they want us to go out of business!).

I want you to focus on % Assists as your standard metric for marketing success (best place to find it is in the Google Analytics MCF Assisted Conversions report). Reward campaigns (owned, earned or paid) that deliver the person who converts right away AND the campaigns who deliver the people who convert after a few days. Assists incentivizes the right behavior by your marketers.

[Bonus read: Multi-Channel Attribution Modeling: The Good, Bad and Ugly Models]

For Behavior, I picked Bounce Rate and Visitor Loyalty.

Bounce Rate to encourage an obsession with landing pages. Far too often with our ads we write checks that our site can't cash. Far too often the Marketer's are paid on ad metrics and not what happens on the site. I want to fix that. Hence Bounce Rate. Create great landing pages, ensure there is clear continuity between your ad, link, email campaign, social contribution, press release, and the place you are sending the traffic to.

best digital metrics map own desktop

Visitor Loyalty because I've grown less fond of "repeat visits" with the passage of time. Repeat visits is too low of a bar. Visitor Loyalty empowers a focus on one person and the quest to impress them so much that they want to come to your site (content or ecommerce) again and again and again.

Best practice: Look at your Visitor Loyalty report, pick the number that is most optimal for your business (say, more than 5 times in 30 days) and set that as your target. Now measure like crazy!

I hope you noticed that the behavior I'm encouraging with Visitor Loyalty is the reason why % Assists is such an important metric as well.

You get people to stay for more than one page during their first visit… and get them to visit your site multiple times… how can you not win!

[Bonus read: See-Think-Do: A Content, Marketing, Measurement Business Framework]

Finally for Outcomes, I choose my absolute favorites: Macro and Micro-Outcomes.

The best websites in the world have a portfolio of outcomes (in case your customers are not ready to jump into bed with you right away!). Some of these outcomes add value to the business in the next 30 days, some over 90 days and some over nine months. The portfolio empowers you to solve for every type of customer, and let them move at the pace they are most comfortable with.

You are not going to be successful if your owned digital existence does not have a portfolio of outcomes, here's an example for a casino/destination…

macro micro outcomes travel casino business

I do find it a smidgen irritating that so many Analysts and Marketers focus on single-session conversions for just one outcome (order or lead or something else). C'est tres terrible!

Macro-Outcomes help you measure immediate success, over 30 days. Notice even this is a small collection and not just one conversion.

Micro-Outcomes ensure that there is long term thinking in your company, the best kind of thinking, and that your employees undertake efforts to drive business value from every visit to the site.

Six simple critical few metrics that balance for the short and the long term, that incentivize the right behavior by our peers and agencies. And all standard metrics in any decent web analytics tool.

[Bonus read: Excellent Analytics Tip #24: Obsess About Real Business Profitability]

Let's focus on the other owned asset we have as a company, mobile.

If you've been to one of my keynotes recently you might have heard me recommend a mobile only strategy, and not a mobile first strategy. We have so much progress to make in that area. With mobile becoming the first (or even primary) digital touch-point for our customers, we have to have an insane amount of focus in this area.

[If you are short on ideas for mobile greatness: Mobile Marketing 2015: Rethink Customer Acquisition, Intent Targeting.]

For mobile Acquisition, our critical few metrics stay the same. Clicks and Assists.

Commercial user behavior on mobile is still transient rather than persistent, so you might initially get a lot more value with a focus on Clicks. After that, having thought long and hard about this choice, I still recommend keeping Assists. One day when cross-device tracking/analytics is easier (it is way too hard today), you'll be ready.

For Behavior, I have Bounce Rate and Time Spent.

Bounce Rate is even more important for Mobile, the back button is hard coded into the mobile device! (At least for Android.) You stink and they'll be gone in 0.05 seconds.

Again, because of the transient nature of mobile behavior, I made a switch from Visitor Loyalty to Time Spent. In most cases people will visit your site for a specific purpose (even more so on phones than tablets), create experiences that answer questions and get them to spend the time it takes them to have a successful visit.

The exception is a content site (my beloved New Yorker as an example). For their mobile site, I would keep Visitor Loyalty.

best digital metrics map own desktop+mobile

And one more time, because of current user behavior, and continued difficulty to transact on mobile devices, my recommendation is to focus on See and Think Micro-Outcomes.

A gigantic reason for under-investment in mobile innovation is the belief by businesses that they can't make money fast ("look, low conversions!"). That is a big mistake. Hence my recommendation to focus on Micro-Outcomes. Those metrics will incentivize the right behavior.

Though we segment Own into two pieces, you'll notice we only ended up with just seven metrics. Focus FTW!

Now let's go see what we can do for Rent.

Best Digital Metrics: Rent Existences/Strategies.

Our goals, participation options and desired outcomes all change for our Rent existences. Much less conversion driven, much more brand marketing driven, and much more longer term focused in terms of impact and outcome.

Most businesses and Marketers have sub-optimal results from their Rent efforts when they are primarily conversion driven, primarily focused on performance marketing and primarily looking for short-term impact.

In choosing the metrics, those elements were top of mind for me. (And I encourage you to keep that strategic view and purpose in mind as you choose your own.)

I've broken Rent channels into permanent and temporary. YouTube is an example of a permanent outpost. This is because for most videos uploaded on YouTube often over 70% of the views will come 30 days after you upload them. Your presence and contributions have a long life. While on temporary outposts like Google+ or Facebook your content, by most measures, "lives" for less than 60 mins – with a small trail of activity for 24 hours and then poof (!) it's gone. For Twitter, it is much, much, shorter than 60 mins/24 hrs.

Yes, on permanent and temporary channels your contributions (text, links, videos, contests, pimping) are always there. It is good for a little SEO. It does have other value (like people randomly bumping into your Twitter page). But almost all engagements your business will have, if any, will be on the latest content. Keep that in mind as you choose what to focus on.

For Acquisition, advertising you buy on YouTube, the metrics to use would be Impressions and Click-thru Rate.

Impressions because in this case a big objective is to solve for brand marketing, so getting a high share of voice is important. (Doing TV on YouTube!)

Click-thru Rate to give a tiny amount of incentive to extend the conversation beyond just the initial impression. CTR will encourage a focus on any commercial purpose of the ad, and creation of a great experience (on YouTube or your Owned channels).

best digital metrics map rent permanent

For Behavior, we focus on Views and Completes.

Views because the primary front of our existence are our delightful non-boring videos. We want to encourage consumption of that content to enhance brand perception and move the brand equity up a few points.

But Views by themselves can drive sub-optimal behavior in Marketers. We counter-balance that with Completes . It will encourage a focus on video content, its ability to retain attention and, if we rock, will drive the outcome metrics.

For Outcomes, YouTube is not focused on conversions/short-term outcomes. We focus on driving organic Views (and Complete!) via Social Amplification of content. There is nothing that works better for brand marketing then getting other people to take your content, slap their own name on it and help you reach their friends/lovers/followers – an audience you might not otherwise reach.

And we focus on one of the most precious thing you can get from an audience on any rent channel: Attention! In this case measured via the growth in Subscribers . In study after study we have seen that your Subscribers are the ones who view your content on YouTube first, and their ability to help you out with the initial social amplification is the difference between a pin dropping in a forest or lighting the initial flames of, wait for it…. wait for it…. wait…. viralness!

Subscribers are your biggest fans, you earn more of them, your life becomes exponentially easier over time because you don't have to keep renting audiences via advertising (though please buy advertising, people who work at YouTube have bills :)).

[Bonus Read: Only three things work on YouTube, learn more about them… YouTube Marketing And Analytics: A Primer For Magnificent Success]

Home stretch, measuring our Temporary rent existence/strategies.

This is a bit harder because while there is some commercial intent we can tap into (regardless of if we are a news site or an ecommerce/lead gen site), it is extremely difficult to grab attention (very short half-life of your contributions). You have to deal with things like EdgeRank, or the faster-flowing-everyday river that is your customer's Twitter stream.

I must have mentioned somewhere in this post that picking your critical-few is hard work!

For Acquisition, advertising we buy on Twitter, Facebook etc, my choices were Impressions and Likes/+1s.

Impressions, see above section on our permanent presence.

Likes/+1s is interesting, is it not? This was really hard. Why would you advertise on your temporary social channels? It turns out there is almost no commercial intent (or at least 43 times lower than email campaigns, see this graph – and click Follow!). My recommendation is to focus on getting outcomes on your social presence. Measure Likes/+1s at a post/brand page level. Pure brand marketing with a pinch of engagement on your rent channel.

best digital metrics map rent permanent+temporary

For Behavior, we are going to focus on Amplification and Applause.

Amplification Rate measuring the number of Shares (Retweets, Forwards etc) on each post. Our goal is to create content that allows you to reach your second-level network. And when people amplify your content, they do so with their own brand endorsement. #awesome

Applause Rate measures the number of Likes (or +1s, Favorite clicks) on each post. It is very hard to know when you are creating content (text, links, videos, images etc) of value. Applause rate is your audience telling you what they like more and what they like less. Focus on the more content and not on the less content. :)

For Outcomes, we are going to focus on Conversation and Owned Micro-Outcomes.

Conversation Rate measures the number of audience comments (or replies) on each post. We are renting these spaces, creating amazing content, doing great brand marketing while participating in and initiating great conversations. So, let's just measure that. Do we create content that creates conversation? If not, why are we on social channels? Great outcome to measure.

Micro-Outcomes measures the outcomes that deliver value to your business over 90 days and over nine months. (For more, please see the Own section above.) This should incentivize our teams to focus on creating long term value on temporary rent channels.

[Bonus read: Best Social Media Metrics: Conversation, Amplification, Applause, Economic Value]

[Bonus read: Facebook Advertising / Marketing: Best Metrics, ROI, Business Value]

If you want to measure the social metrics mentioned above automatically, including Micro-Outcomes, you can do so using the True Social Metrics tool.

Best Digital Metrics: Comprehensive View.

Here's the complete picture from my keynote, the best digital metrics to measure the effectiveness of our ability to find the optimal customers (current, future), influence them and deliver win-win outcomes…

best digital metrics map sm

While it looks like a lot, I've recommended just fifteen metrics to measure everything you could possibly to with digital for your business. Not bad, right?

Please click on the image above to see a higher resolution version, or if you want to download it.

Closing Thoughts.

We are blessed with Big BIg BIG data, and many, Many, MAny, MANY metrics! It is our ability to identify the critical few spectacularly relevant metrics to focus on that will bring personal glory to us and professional glory to our business. (Mostly it is about personal. :))

In choosing metrics you have to make trade-offs, some are painful. More than learning about the best metrics available to us, I hope you've learned about the thought process behind each choice. Why something was chosen? What behavior it will drive in our teams/clients?

And one more thing… please remember that this is a journey and not a destination. The Web Metrics Lifecycle Process is Define > Measure > Analyze > Action > Improve or Eliminate. Rinse and repeat. Make sure you remember that (and follow the process!) before you spend so much time in discussion and choosing that the optimal time to deliver insights has passed you by.

Good luck!

As always, it is your turn now.

Does your current dashboard optimally cover Acquisition, Behavior and Outcomes? When discussing a framework to ensure you have the right metrics, does your company use the Own and Rent philosophy? Would you recommend a different set of metrics for ABO for mobile? What do you use to measure the success of your YouTube efforts? How about the temporary social channels like Google+ or Facebook? Is there a metric you consider your absolute BFF that is missing from the choices above?

Please share your advice, insights, questions, critique, ah-ha moments via comments below.

Thank you.


  1. 1

    Hi Avinash,

    Nice post indeed. I think most of us start reporting 1000's of metrics and after sometime the managers even stop looking/ bother about at most of them. It perfectly makes sense to focus on a few (Even 15 daily is quite high for a single person to look, analyze and work on!).

    What just intrigued me was your micro and macro conversion numbers for the travel/ casino business. In your earlier post, you had not showed the expected days to conversion. I think this is a very useful metric.

    What could also help in setting up these metrics would be to find the %age conversion after this behavior (Lets say %age of conversions from the people downloading your free ebook, etc.). Would you have that kind of data for the education/ training sector?? :)

    • 2

      Pramdeep: I'm afraid I don't have the data for the education/training sector.

      But with the obsessive focus on User centricity in tools like Google Analytics, this is much easier to do. You will have to work with a GACP ( to get the advanced tracking set up. But you will be able to track the journey of one person from first visit to a free trail, and then from that visit to detect a, say, full version purchase.

      The benefit of doing this in GA is that you can track marketing performance much more effectively and do better analysis. But if you have a decent backend system where you are storing your leads/purchases, you can actually do the age analysis even without GA.


  2. 3

    Hello Avinash Kaushik.

    Wow, this article was amazing. I've never seen it as "own" and "rent", that was the first thing that really took me by surprise here. And when you broke it down in the metrics map, I could see everything so clearly.

    This will boost my online performance for shure! thank you so much for this knowledge!


    Nils Rahm

  3. 4

    Great post Avinash!

    Regarding rented metrics, you don't always have to take them at face value. Facebooks dashboard and underlying metrics can be pretty useless, but if you combine/multiply/divide them into a formula you can get more appropriate and tailored insights to your goal.

    This goes for owned metrics as well.

  4. 6

    The wonder — and disaster — of Big Data is how overwhelming it is. It is a great pursuit to try to whittle down the noise and focus on what matters.

    Thanks for writing this and helping us all determine what the "right" metrics really should be.

  5. 8

    Thanks Avinash, I've printed out your Rockin' Metrics Map to stick beside my monitor!

  6. 9

    What a thorough read.

    I wasn't aware of the YouTube stat (70% of views after 30 days) and really builds a case for making video a longer-term strategy rather than "release-and-hope" tactics that I usually see.

    Thanks for posting.

    • 10

      Luke: We can't do release-and-hope! : )

      Here's an image from one of my talks as I encourage Marketers to have much more well thought out plan for their YouTube videos…

      YouTube Marketing Plan Timeline

      Launch, deploy, spread!


  7. 11

    Great post Avinash and well worth multiple reads. I will definitely come back to this post many times for ideas/inspiration.

    One thought as I read is that at least insofar as Mobile goes… conversion is an ongoing thing that is actually happening every time someone is using your app. I know that I have generally made the mistake of not looking at in-app "events" (in the google analytics sense of "events") closely enough.

    Every interaction with the app is really a new chance to influence the target audience and increase engagement. What happens after the download is as important as what happened to get the download.

    That's my main takeaway from the point you made about "a portfolio of outcomes".

  8. 12

    Another great and thoughtful post Avinash.

    I'm curious to understand how you are defining clicks, impressions, views, and completions in this post as I might be missing some big picture context.

    Initially reading your post I'm a little surprised by these choices over a visitor based metric (i.e. number of visitors who clicked, number of visitors who saw the ad, number of visitors who viewed, and number of visitors who completed).

    If you're intention is that these metrics are visitor based them I'm all in, if not then I'd be curious to understand why a visitor based metric would be not be the focus over what I would see as lower quality metrics not based on visitors.

    For example in some situations a single visitor may have more than 1 click, 1 ad impression, video view, or completion. Overtime individuals loyal to your brand could end up masking the poor performance by those who aren't.


    • 13

      Paul: In my recommendations I'm building in (or out) the emphasis on Visits or Visitors.

      For example, I do believe that measuring Clicks (a session based metric typically) is the right thing to do to measure initial quality of ad targeting, content and relevancy. You just try to get lots of visits to the site. Then the other balancing metrics (in Behavior and Outcomes) help you optimize performance.

      But my second recommendation of % Assists has Visitors built into it as Assists are measured for people (over multiple visits). This takes more sophistication to analyze, but is the right thing after the initial Click.

      Please let me know if this helps.

      Thank you for sharing such a thoughtful comment and allowing me to clarify this important point.

      PS: I'm totally obsessed with Visitors/People. Recent post: Google Analytics Visitor Segmentation: Users, Sequences, Cohorts!

  9. 14

    Excellent post Avinash, thanks for sharing.

    It struck me that the Acquisition > Behaviour > Outcomes group of metrics lend themselves extremely well to the Awareness > Consideration > Intent > Decision model as put forward via Think Insights from Google: (or as I originally discovered it: Awareness > Desire > Interest > Actions / AIDA).

    Also not forgetting another great acronym – ZMOT :)

    • 15

      James: I do like ACID and of course AIDA.

      I do find them a tiny big restrictive and unopen to possibilities that exist in the world we live in now. Or the full scope of the relationships that are now possible. And that is ok because they were created in a different world.

      I recently wrote about See-Think-Do-Coddle, It was my attempt to remove some of the linearity out of the thinking and close the loop with existing customers.

      Not the perfect framework of course, but to share with you my humble current thinking on the wonderful world of frameworks. :)


  10. 16
    Jonathan says

    As ever a quality post, Quality over content. " beauty, intelligence and simplicity" often more akin to the customers than the experience!!

    The difficulties in my world is the balance between mobile & other multi-channels in the explosion of beauty, intelligence and simplicity that is India,a rapidly changing feast.

  11. 17

    Great article! Loved the graphics.

    You really make it clear how digital marketing is a natural part of long term business strategies.

  12. 18
    Yaroslav says

    Great post Avinash, thank you!

    I work as a web analyst at online travel agency (actually most of our sales is airline tickets). We have both B2B and B2C parts. We sell directly to people from our site (B2C part) and have partnership with some other sites that sell tickets using our system.

    Now we're trying to define our critical few metrics and that's my main task for the near future. So it seems that your post came right in time for me :). Thank you again for sharing your thoughts.
    But besides many points on which I'm absolutely agree with you there are some questions about your model. To me, the main question – where the money is? :)

    To be more concrete, I mean – why wouldn't we include costs, returns and ROI in these critical few metrics?

    For example, what if we got 2 times more micro and macro conversions but spent 4 times more money on acquisition? Is it really valuable for our business?

    • 19

      Yaroslav: Thank you for raising this important question.

      I have a long answer for it, so I will simply point you to my post on the Digital Analytics Ladder of Awesomeness post:

      ~ Digital Marketing And Analytics: Two Ladders For Magnificent Success

      You'll see exactly where Cost, Profit and Lifetime value come into play.


      • 20
        Yaroslav says

        I'd say this "Ladder of Awesomeness" approach looks reasonable for startups or maybe for small sites. But I'm not sure about businesses that can't afford not to think about profit. If at our company we, let's say, start optimizing for bounce rate and completely forget about profit, ROI etc. for couple of months, we'll be fired after these two months, I'm afraid.
        Sometimes it's just impossible to climb the ladder step-by-step. The only possibility is to jump.

  13. 21

    As always, the ideas presented are grounded in clarity of purpose.

    Marketers have to know the essential thing they are trying to accomplish in each business unit, channel, event, etc. They need to know that for the short term and the long. Once that perspective has been achieved, the choice of metrics to measure success will be greatly simplified.

    Unfortunately, the achievement of that perspective is frequently–not to say usually–clouded by the complicated considerations of corporate success rather than marketplace success.

    The most successful marketers are able to integrate clarity of marketing purpose into their business model without compromise or confusion.

    • 22

      Craig: Corporate culture are where best intentions often go to die. Sad, but true.

      You are absolutely right to stress that challenge of balancing for, as you put it, marketplace vs. corporate success.

      With the Digital Marketing and Measurement Model my hope was to have a process where there is agreement upfront about that balance. With a recent post on data-driven culture I was also trying to get leaders to hopefully see things a little differently (

      An important challenge, thank you for highlighting it.


  14. 23
    Kristen Findley says

    Thanks for another great post, Avinash! I just have to disagree on the time spent metric. I think this is a useless measurement for two reasons. First of all, it is calculated differently on every platform. (True, if you are watching trends and always getting this number from the same tool, you can alleviate this problem a bit.) Secondly, and more-importantly to me, the default analysis of this metric is that more time spent = better site/experience.

    I know Time Spent is a good go-to metric because it makes sense and is easy for anyone to grasp, but I think there's an inherent fault in striving for a higher Time Spent number. The assumption is that the user is happy to be spending more time on the site – that he/she is so enthralled with your content and experience they have to be torn away. How do you know the user wasn't completely frustrated for her four minute visit and was clicking all over the navigation looking for what she needed? Maybe the user who spent 20 seconds on your site had a better experience because he was directed to the right landing page, found what he needed, and left. Very limited time on site, but much happier user.

    What do you think? Am I missing something?

    • 24

      Kristen: There is nothing wrong with your analysis/thinking. Though we have all known that about you for a very long time! :)

      I did not make this as explicit but when I was thinking about Mobile I was over-indexing on Mobile Apps and a little less on the Mobile web (though this is pretty big too). On Apps the computation of time (say, using the new GA SDK) is much smarter and more accurate and created using a new framework than our pageview world. So I like that.

      The other thing, I think I touched on this, is that the mobile experience is much more purpose driven and hence ensuring that people stay, get their tasks done is a good thing to strive for.

      You are right, it is dangerous to assume more time is better (the main reason I don't recommend time on Desktop). Perhaps on mobile (because analysis is so much clear with fewer outcomes and intents) we can combine it with a simple task completion analysis using clickstream or qualitative data.

      Thanks so much for your words of wisdom, much appreciated!

      • 25
        Kristen Findley says

        Thank you for the kind words, Avinash!

        Interesting that for mobile then, we could suggest less time on site is more successful? Of course that could be a dangerous assumption. But, yes, combining a few metrics – and maybe even some usability testing – will paint a better picture.

        I'm still a little skeptical about time on site, but a good strategy can outline more specific metrics that will define clear success events. That's why those CEOs will always need us!

        Thanks again for the great post!

  15. 26

    Thanks for this great post!

    Speaking about engagement, which I feel is what most companies miss, because it's the hardest to define and measure, what are possible engagement metrics for a support website (think Help Center for a product).

    Since it's a content website, we'd love to get people find answers to their questions fast, so visit duration may be misleading. But at the same time looking at visit frequency may also indicate that people just experience problems with the product frequently and just have to visit the website.

    Are there any alternative engagement metrics which would be robust even in the presence of the issues I mentioned?


  16. 28


    I'm hoping you can help me understand how this fits in along with KPIs/Targets. I know that the KPIs are telling me how I am doing against my objectives. Now we have the Rockin' metrics, which could be close, but don't match my KPIs.

    Would these be considered metrics that are just a level deeper of insight? Like you mentioned when you started the article "a few critical metrics is critical." I thought my KPIs would be that.


  17. 30

    I just used this blog post this week to talk about foundational formats for dashboards. The ABO framework is priceless in this industry. I find that the first shift for people is knowing they can measure things on the web. Then they feel like everything should be measured and weighted equally. Finally they know what to get rid of to focus on what's left.

    Our dashboards focus on ABO and were based on the example you put on the disk that came with your web analytics book. Great article!

  18. 31

    Another great post! I will definitely have to remember these thoughts as I work.

    Thanks for sharing such great insight!

  19. 32

    You're right. The company I work for is obsessed mostly with acquisition and outcome. They hardly look at behavior.

    I'll start using this strategy in parallel with our traditional metrics to compare. Hopefully it will be an eye opener for management.

  20. 33
    Joseph B says

    Hi Avinash,

    First, I want to thank you very much for your incredible blog, and making me loving my job !

    I have a question about Visitor Loyalty : you give it as a single metric but it seems to me that Visitor Loyalty is a "multi-metrics" metric !

    • 34

      Joseph: In most tools Visitor Loyalty is a count of visits by one person. So if you read this blog three times this month, that would give you a Visitor Loyalty of 3.

      So in that sense that is a simple number.


  21. 35

    Thanks Avinash for another inspiring post. Here's something I'm struggling with:

    – I love the concept of focusing on a critical few metrics

    – I also love the concept of tracking a portfolio of micro-outcomes

    – But micro-outcomes are not a single metric; they could be 5 or 10 different goals/events, like in your casino/destination example

    – The only way I can think of to turn micro-outcomes into a single metric is to assign goal values to each and use "total goal value from micro-outcomes"

    – But is that a compound metric – and therefore a metric you don't like? ( Is there a better way to get a single metric for micro-outcomes?

    • 36

      John: Micro-outcomes, as you currently alluded to, are a cluster of goals that a business would set for themselves. Typically you can measure the micro-outcomes individually or as a complete set. Additionally you can also measure the value of each goal. This, I refer to it as Economic Value. Typically you can measure this as a overall amount for your CEO and for individual stakeholders you can compare to individual targets they have set.

      To your last question…

      Compound metrics mash together a number of different types of metrics into unrecognizable paste. For example: Engagement is the addition of time on site plus pageviews times four plus yada yada yada.

      With Economic Value, you are simply summing up one metric.

      This example might help you understand this better. You make $10 from selling cars, $20 from selling houses and $40 from selling air. The sum of those three pieces of revenue, $70, is not a compound metric.


  22. 37
    Brent Lynch says

    It's a great post, it includes all the new idea for developing some great strategy for internet marketing to improve the product sale and build new customer for our business.

  23. 38


    Thank you for this analysis of metrics for digital marketing. Your approach to analytics makes it interesting and easier to implement (for the non-technical minds).

  24. 39


    This is honestly one of the most useful articles I have read in a long, LOng, LONG time. Thank you for writing it.

    I have been struggling with figuring out the best metrics to track at my startup. In a startup environment it can be incredibly difficult to get caught up in tracking a plethora of various metrics. Being able to focus will help stretch scarce resources.

    I'm bookmarking this, and am reading everything you've ever written (expect more comments).

    It's refreshing to see quality content like this on the web. I wish I had something meaningful to add in addition to thanking you for writing this.

    Keep up the great work,


  25. 40

    Another great article mate!

    Trying to focus too much on micro metrics may result in a lot of people taking their eye off the simple stuff like just getting the basics right wouldn't you say?


  26. 41
    umer chaudhry says

    I believe to be successful with your digital marketing strategies, having a strong social media presence is also very essential because these are the mini versions of your website and a best place to foster relationships with your prospects.

  27. 42


    Some great insight on Business and strategies, it was a long post, so i couldn't go through the entire post, but I really like your point about ABO, Acquisition behaviour and output.


  28. 43
    Pramod Mane says

    Excellent post Avinash, thanks for sharing.

    I'm enjoying learning all your lessons on the Primer mobile app!



  29. 44
    DIVIT MEHTA says

    This is extremely helpful.

    Seriously very well written.

  30. 45
    Bob Rodgers says

    Another great read thanks to you!

    I am always amazed at how you are able to write and make your readers feel that they are just talking to a friend.


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