What’s in your dashboard? April Wilson


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Welcome back to our “What’s in your dashboard” series! After learning about Stéphane Hamel’s top 3 KPIs for digital marketing and e-commerce management in the last post, we continue the series today with another guest who speaks about her most valuable, useful and inventive KPIs. 

For part II we are speaking with April Wilson, a long time measure and optimization expert (see full bio at end of post), and again, our questions were simple: name 3 KPIs/charts and tell us how you calculate them, explain where you would apply them, and why they are special to you.

April focuses on KPIs for content-based website optimization and takes us through the process of implementing them to ensure we use them in the best manner possible. Read on for her full explanation of what her favourite KPIs are, and why are they so valuable to her.

April’s Answers:

Determining the top three most important KPI’s is a bit like trying to simply walk into Mordor; without a clear goal in mind of your purpose, it’s easy to get lost. There are no single three KPI’s out there to rule them all; they’re always going to vary based on the purpose of your website and your goals.

Most of the businesses that I work with have largely content-based websites (as opposed to e-commerce), so the top 3 KPI’s for them are laser-focused on understanding what’s going on outside of looking at the goal reports regarding completing “learn more,” “subscribe,” or “contact us” forms.

I’m also going to only use Google Analytics views for this, since that’s the dominant web analytics platform. You can replicate these in other platforms; that’s just the one I use by default because it’s the big dog.

The first step is to strip out all “fake” visits. This can be robots, spiders, or random users who clicked on the wrong thing to end up on your website and abort immediately. This is a completely arbitrary metric that I have created using the “segments” feature in GA. This has nothing to do with best-practice KPI’s, it’s just an April best practice to get a real picture of visitors that are truly interested.

It’s a time-based metric where visit is greater than 10 seconds.

I just figure that if a visitor spends more than 10 seconds on your website, they are really into what you’re all about. Ten seconds is enough time to decide at a high-level if your content is relevant to their needs. I always filter all of my reports by this metric because I need to understand all important opportunities with the traffic I can influence versus those that got to my site by accident.

Now I’m ready to look at the first big KPI: WHERE ARE THE HOLES IN MY MOBILE STRATEGY? (We’re not even going to talk about how important it is for your website to be mobile-friendly and how many searches are done on mobile vs. desktop, because we all already know that, right?) To do this, add the “mobile and tablet” traffic segment.

Here’s what I’m learning:

  • Mobile and tablet visitors are about a third of sessions and about a fourth of users.
  • However, those mobile visitors are consuming less than half the pages per session and spending about a third of the time on site versus desktop.
  • They’re also bouncing.

I probably have a problem with page load time on mobile. People are abandoning because the pages are slow to load. (When I go to Behavior → Site Speed → Overview I see the problem in more detail.)

KPI 2 is all about site events. It’s one of the most valuable and most underused reports available. (You can find it under Behavior → Events.) In addition to filling out forms, users can also engage with your content in many other ways. Are they downloading your worksheets? Attending / registering for webinars (this usually shows up as outbound menus or outbound widgets)? Watching your videos on YouTube (this is usually classified as an outbound article)?

Downloads are a big winner in the above scenario, with about a third of all sessions resulting in a download. As a business owner, this signals the need to capture information prior to download or offer automated emails alerting the user when new downloads are available. Any opportunity to increase content consumption increases odds to close a sale.

KPI 3 reports on what we all wish we had in real life: the secret knowledge of what people really want from us. It’s focused on your internal site search (Behavior → Site Search) What people are searching for gives you valuable insight into unmet needs.

Step 1 is to understand how many people are searching out of your average user pool. If a very small percentage are using search, congratulations! Your navigation and content organization must make what people are looking for really, really easy to find. If it’s a high number, you have a problem. You either have way too much content on your website, or it’s poorly organized. Time to rethink your website structure.

The next step is to understand what pages make people abandon all hope and just turn to the search box.

I never worry about the home page people, those are probably the same kinds of people that zoom up on you in the fast lane and blink their lights, honk, and make gestures because you’re going too slowly. Some people are just impatient, and those are the people that search right from your home page. If most of your searchers are here, don’t stress out about it.

The last step is to understand what they’re searching for. If it’s something that you can easily correct by changing the name of something in your navigation, do it! (Example: your marketing people put “career” but everyone is internally searching for “jobs” – just change the nav label.) If they’re searching for content you haven’t created, create it!

I realize that none of these are particularly earth-shattering KPI’s. However, often the simplest things to measure can make the biggest impact. Good luck, and feel free to contact me with any more questions you might have.

Guest Bio:

April Wilson has a long history of measuring and optimizing customer communication for top brands, and she has built her career around evangelizing the power of data and using consumer insights to change behavior. Follow April on Twitter @aprilewilson or take a look at her website.

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Megan Wilcock

VP of Business Development for Sweetspot. Responsible for strategic brand development, marketing and business development. BA/BComm graduate from the University of Melbourne. My passion lies in finding creative solutions and encouraging collaboration.

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