by Erin McNamara

Take a moment and consider what the most valuable thing in your life is. Often times it’s not a thing at all, but rather a who, a place, a memory. When defining value in everyday life it’s not cut and dry, and it’s certainly not the same for everyone. Think about your company’s website now. What have you been considering valuable on your site? I’d guess you’ve been focusing on conversions to tell the story of what’s succeeding and what isn’t. While conversions are undoubtedly helpful in driving sales, they may not always be the indicator of digital success.

Traditionally, when reporting on digital analytics we’ve considered things like conversion rate and bounce rate as key indicators as to whether a website is performing for a company. We try to understand how our paid advertising is driving traffic and whether that traffic is doing exactly what we want. Then, from this information, we decide whether a page is valuable to us and our advertising campaigns. As we’ve gotten caught up in the numbers we’ve forgotten that what we’re doing is not systematic. We’re dealing with people and products that are always changing. Our analytics should be evolving too.

Customers visit a website in a variety of ways. Traffic can come organically or through paid channels and those users can take a number of actions once they arrive at a page. Understand that your website tells a story about how customers interact with your brand. Pay attention to who came to your site, how they did it, and what they did when they got there. Think of your conversions as the conclusion of a book. You can skip to the last chapter and find out what happens, but it means significantly less if you haven’t paid attention to the storyline.

What does your website’s story tell you? Look at your analytics and see what your top clicked links are. If we’re looking at a car dealership’s website and we can see that the top clicked link is a financing tab about the difference between leasing and buying, we now have a better understanding of what most of our customers are thinking about. Similarly, consider your top pages by time. You’ve found that your customers are spending the most time on a specific vehicle comparison page. There’s no conversion on this page though, so you haven’t given it a lot of credit. But knowing that customers are spending a lot of time on this page has got you thinking. Look at their click path. How did they get to this comparison page and what are they doing after? In this hypothetical scenario you’ve found that your customers leave the comparison page (where they’ve spent a considerable amount of time), visit a couple vehicle VDPs, later converting on a value trade form. You might not be getting the customer’s contact information directly from the comparison page, but you are learning a ton of information about them.

The point is, not every website performs the same and we should not get caught up in the same few metrics all the time. Ultimately what should classify a successful page is not always the conversions, but the conversations the customer is having with us.

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