If you are a digital marketer, then you probably already know that tracking the success of your website is important. But measuring success isn’t always easy to do, especially when you are trying to pair your website strategy with overall business objectives. To truly know if your website is successful in helping meet your organization’s objectives, you must measure what matters. Setting up and tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and key metrics is the best way to do this.

Is your web team currently tracking KPIs? If you’re not, you aren’t alone. Many teams struggle to find what truly matters when it comes to their analytics data.

While identifying and tracking KPIs isn’t necessarily the simplest task ever, it is the best way to start tracking overall website performance. By focusing on what truly matters for your organization, you can track success, prove website value and ROI, and continuously improve your website.

What are KPIs and Why Do They Matter?

KPIs are a set of indicators that help organizations assess progress toward strategic objectives. They are important because they help organizations track how well they are doing to meet these objectives. No matter what industry you’re in, it’s likely your organization has a clear direction on what they want to achieve and has some established objectives.

To know if you are helping your organization achieve success, then you need to measure specific things on your website. One of the most efficient ways to do this is through KPIs.

How to Identify KPIs

The first step is to create a set of strategic objectives for your website. Ideally, you set these strategic website objectives based on your organization’s strategy. If there is no set strategy in place where you work, then you need to define your own objectives by determining what your most important initiatives are. What do you want people to do on your website?

Let’s say your organization wants to be the best in the world (because that’s what we all want, right?). How do you measure that? Maybe you measure the number of happy customers and determine you need 800 happy customers to have the best organization in the world. But what is a happy customer?

As you can tell from this example, this process can get a little tricky. You really need to start from the ground up to establish your KPIs. After establishing KPIs, it is important to track them so you can follow the progression of your objectives. Tracking will help you see how you are improving on or moving toward these objectives.

What are Key Metrics and Why Do They Matter?

All the numbers in your analytics data can be identified as metrics. Key metrics are the actual numbers and actions on your website that truly matter to reaching your objectives. While a page view or visit is considered a metric, it might not be valuable for your organization.

Key metrics are the important tactical initiatives you and your team identify for your website. These are the types of visitor actions that are helping your organization reach their overall objectives, whether that’s lead generation or customer satisfaction.

There are plenty of examples of what key metrics could be, from a newsletter sign up to a form completion, but again, the point is to hone in on what truly matters for your organization.

How KPIs and Key Metrics Work Together

The next step in this process is to understand the exact event that needs to happen for each key metric to be successful. These are known as triggers. The idea behind this is that you measure your strategic objectives by looking at your key metrics, which are measured by triggers, which then end up being your KPIs that reflect your overall strategic objectives. This is demonstrated in the KPI model.

An image of the KPI trinagle - with KPI in the middle, then strategic objectives to key metrics to triggers. The idea behind this is that you measure your strategic objectives by looking at your key metrics, which are measured by triggers, which then end up being your KPIs that overall reflect your strategic objectives.

To put this concept together, let’s look at a specific example. If you oversee a website for wildlife resources and one of your main objectives is to increase the sales of fishing licenses, your KPI might look something like this:

⦁ Strategic Objective: Managing wildlife resources

⦁ Key Metric: Fishing license sales

⦁ Trigger: User viewing the ‘Thank You for Buying a Fishing License’ confirmation page, equalling a completed transaction

In this example, the KPI is tracking the success of managing wildlife resources, and one of the key metrics is fishing license sales. Typically many key metrics make up a KPI, so other key metrics could be hunting license sales, camping license sales, etc. By knowing how well your team is managing wildlife resources online through various key metrics, you can determine how successful the website is at reaching this specific strategic objective.

Why You Need to Measure KPIs and Key Metrics

The truth is, if you’re not measuring your success you can’t succeed. Because how do you know if you’re succeeding if you’re not measuring it? What’s the point of even having a website if it isn’t helping you meet your objectives?

The other important part of measuring key metrics and KPIs is that you get concrete, quantifiable data that you can easily report on to show management value. As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of analytics metrics you can report on like page views and visits, also known as feel good data, but do those metrics truly matter to your organization?

Management knows metrics like visits and page views are meaningless without the value those visits and page views provide. Management cares about the organization’s objectives and how the website helps meet those objectives. Even at a small company, management wants to get the value out of your analytics data. If you had 4,000 visitors on your website last month, how many signed up for your newsletter? How many downloaded your monthly offer? These questions are the ones that matter.

As analytics data becomes more sophisticated, your website stakeholders will continue to expect more. Without established KPIs and key metrics, you will have no idea if your web team is on the right track to helping your organization’s success. And that's why you need to start tracking KPIs and key metrics.

So if you’re on board with establishing KPIs and key metrics for your organization, or want to learn more about it, then be sure to 

listen to our "Start Measuring Digital Success" webinar. We just launched Key Metrics as a part of our robust Analytics tool and are excited to help people like you track what matters. Learn more by watching our video What are KPIs and Key Metrics.


Click to access the Siteimprove Webinar: Start Measuring Digital Success