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Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at 8:00 am

Determining, Tracking, and Calculating Your Site Goals

By Whitney Wilding
December 19th, 2011

Here at FutureNow, one of the first things that we do when we start our relationship with a new client is to conduct a kick-off call.   We ask our client some uncovery questions so we can get an understanding of our clients’ site and goals before we dig in and get dirty with our analysis and recommendations.  Oftentimes, the client is somewhat unclear on what the goals of their site actually are.  If you are considering reaching out to a conversion rate optimization expert like FutureNow or heading up some conversion rate optimization efforts on your own, the first thing you should do is outline the goals of your site. Once you have a clear understanding of the goals you are trying to reach with your website, it will be much easier to establish which metrics will be of importance to you and how to measure them.

The Ecommerce Site

If you have an ecommerce site, defining your goal is simple; to get sales.  To make that goal work for you, you should make a target to measure the success of your goal. For example, you could say, “We want to increase sales of Plush Safari Hats by 10% in the 4th quarter.”  This way everyone in your company is working toward something tangible, and you will find you make progress more quickly this way.

Now that you have a goal and a target in mind, you can decide which metrics to use to establish some benchmarks. One metric that is going to be of obvious importance is the ecommerce conversion rate of your site (the rate at which visits to your site result in purchases).  To see how those Plush Safari Hats are performing, you can put those products in a segment and view their specific conversion rate.  In addition to measuring and optimizing ecommerce conversion rate are the metrics: average order value, revenue, and quantity metrics. These metrics can be valuable in measuring product performance and revenue performance for your site which all affect your bottom line.

If you are operating an informational site or a lead generation site determining the goals of your site can seem a little more difficult. To figure out your goals, ask yourself why you created a website in the first place. If your not sure why you created a website or you set it up just because “everyone else seems to be doing it,” then you will never know it’s value or if it is increasing or decreasing your ‘bottom line.’

The Lead Generation Site

Think about what it is that you do; perhaps you are a model, for example. You didn’t just put up a website in order to simply have pictures of yourself online did you? Most business professionals and businesses out there need more justification to have a website than simply just to have one. If you are a model and are interested in getting more bookings, your goal is to get people to contact you either by phone, e-mail or a lead generation form.

Although there is no web analytics tool out there that that can measure how many bookings you get from phone calls, you can keep track of how many calls you get and even ask how many people found out about you from your website. You can set up a page on your site that loads when a person clicks a call to action button that reads, ‘call me now,’ and then offers a phone number.  There are many ways to keep track of how well your site is doing at generating calls.

Although GA has no direct way to track the phone calls you receive, what analytics CAN do is measure how many people complete a lead contact form on your site. Although it can’t be measured in an ecommerce report, GA provides the ability to create your own goals in order to establish a conversion rate.  By creating a goal to capture lead form completions, GA will calculate  the conversion rate of visitors who complete the task. You can take this metric a step further by determining how many visitors that complete a lead form on your site in a month result in a booking. Are you beginning to see that asking yourself a few simple questions can get at the meat of what your website can do for you?

The Information Based Site

You are probably interested in improving conversions on your own information-based website, but are not exactly sure which metrics will be of most value to you.  This is a good opportunity to ask yourself the ubiquitous, ‘What do you want your website to do for you?’

For example, we currently have a client with an information-based site that has Ad Sense activated. Basically, with Ad Sense this client makes money by charging advertisers to place ads on their site. In order to optimize on the opportunity to increase revenue through Ad Sense, it’s important to understand how Ad Sense works. The dominant pricing strategy for Ad Sense is to charge advertisers a fee per million impressions (CPM). Therefore, if you increase the amount of pageviews you have on your site, you can also increase the number of impressions and, likewise, your earnings through Ad Sense. Therefore, a valuable metric to track as part of your website’s goals could be page views.

As these two examples of non-ecommerce sites demonstrate, once you establish what you would like your website to do for you, you can begin to think through which metrics will be important to measure and formulate a plan for improving each of these metrics. Here at Futurenow; this is what we call establishing  baseline data and it’s usually the very first thing we do for our clients. Believe it or not, if you have already thought through this for your site, you are one step ahead of the game.  If you want to get ten steps ahead, check out our OnTarget approach to making you money!Tweet Button

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Comments (104)

  1. Good stuff to know about the information sites on Adsense revenue generation. Traffic is huge for Adsense especially if the click through rate is low.

  2. I like what was written here. You surely have to think about what you want on the site, in other words visualize it before any building. Good post

  3. Will use some of this info for my site..Thanks

  4. Im running an info based site..using adsense..but after the last google panda update..I was hit very badly..anyway it is not fair as I can clearly see for some search terms, websites with an auto content post are still ranking why speak such stories dear Google?, “we want quality sites to rank highest”


  5. Metrics – this is the word I’ve been wondering about for the last week or so. I’m not really clear on what is meant by metrics.

    I see you have a link above that discusses them further, I hope there is actually a definition for those just wading around at the shallow end right now.

    Trying to learn all I can these days.

  6. Google analytics for analytics, Tracking202 for conversion tracking, and built in CMS data for popularity, etc. I’ve found this to be the best combination of technologies

  7. Metrics are just the measurement your use to quantify your results. An example in conversion rate optimization would be average order value. If you run a new advertising campaign, one way you can see if it was effective is to look at how it increased or decreased your average order value. In this case, the average order value is the metric used to calculate the success of your campaign.

  8. These metrics are of critical importance. If a client can’t answer their expectations with specific percentages and goals….that’s a problem.

    I’m amazed how many lead gen sites don’t employ specific phone number tracking on different landing pages either.

  9. Will use some of this info for my site..Thanks

  10. Can I use your contents in my blog?

  11. You can link to our site as much as you like. You can use our content as long as you attribute it to us!

  12. I am completely agree with “Jeff Bronson” comment “These metrics are of critical importance. If a client can’t answer their expectations with specific percentages and goals….that’s a problem.”

  13. I must agree with Jef, that metrics can be critical in determining crucial factor that will affect a client’s business (and for the business of the provider for that matter). Having a clear set of goals on what to expect based from metric lineage can make a difference.

  14. There is no other way to both help make you and save money at the same time.

  15. I am looking to learn adsense to monetize my blog. Gonna read all the info I can on this log. Thanks (0:

  16. Google analytics for analytics, Tracking202 for conversion tracking, and built in CMS data for popularity, etc. I’ve found this to be the best combination of technologies.

  17. It really takes quite a bit of research and thought to determine what the critical metrics are to a company/website- but that time will pay back tenfold!

  18. Pre questioning is most essential part to determine site goal it will help us to make strategies. Without pre questioning our whole campaign will blow like a bubble.

  19. When you have a website is important to measure all day visits, I use Google Analytics because it offers me several metrics so I know if my site is being well visited.

  20. Makes sense to me. Have a goal, put a system/process in place to track to that goal, and either add, change, or delete to meet the desired outcome. I have found the hardest part is actually defining the goal because although Lead Generation may be my “goal”, I really only want high quality leads, so the process (and the person driving it) has to be willing/able to evolve and adapt.

  21. I think having simple targeted goals is one of the most overlooked strategies. Probably because of the simplicity it can be discarded as obvious. But the fact it gets written into a measurable goal can be very powerful.

  22. Determining your clients goals or their needs and wants before starting a project could save a lot of misunderstanding and your right it will serve as a metrics in your business.

  23. Thank you. I’ve never understood what was most important to track. Since all my sites use AdSense, your comments on tracking Page Views and increasing Impressions is very insightful.

  24. Really nice tips. I’ll use some of these on my site.


  25. It’s hard to figure out where you want or need to be goals wise. I gained a lot of information from this post. I now know what to set my goals at.

  26. I’ve built an Amazon affiliate site and my aim of course is to bring visitors to my site which means a lot of backling and article writing.Still learning and enjoyed reading your blog

  27. The part regarding the CPM is very clear. But what about CPC? Increasing CPC can be considered a target for a site?

  28. A right and important topic and well covered. Many website businesses fail to achieve a good ratio of input in terms of efforts & cost and the revenue or in other words to exloit the complete potential of the site just because of confusing objectives and hence lacking on some finer points. For example the example of Ad Sense in this post. There could be a very small point which can make a big difference and that is the place or where you are making those Ads appear on your pages. The traffic may be good, the page views may be better but then the Ads which you wish people to click maybe sitting in a corner and may go unnoticed.

    Thanks Whitney for a nice post.

  29. wow.. Great source. I have gotten good ideas about how to Determine, Track, and Calculate my Site Goals. Hope you will publish some more good article like this.

  30. Good stuff, especially goal determining and Lead Generation. Determining clients needs and creating a website which can ultimately turn page views into cash, is very important. There are many websites on the internet which are just like a junk yard, filled completely with everything a little and not perfect in anything. When a single site is filled with so many things, so visitors get confused about the purpose of that site. I think a website would be much more popular if it is user targeted and also traffic targeted. Hence , goal determination becomes an important factor.

  31. need hard work and more optimization to be able to reach the target, competition is getting tight

  32. I own an information based site and I’m sure page views is the most important metric for this kind of sites, yet Ad Sense is not the best way to go for the win :)

  33. We do not normally think of an increased cost per click as a good metric for measuring site performance. Can you give us an example of how you use this?

  34. I run several information based sites as well as a few product related websites.

    Too often we take creating goals as cliche’. This last week of December is where I will be reflecting on successes and goals accomplished and put together some goals and metrics for 2012.

    Part of the goal setting process I do is 1) ask what I want each site to actually accomplish 2) create spreadsheets for financial goals of the websites with worst case and best case scenarios .

    I then reverse engineer the BIG PICTURE goals to small attainable daily goals and tasks that will help accomplish them.

  35. Good information, but adSense is a whole ‘nuther article, eh! Also, don’t forget the membership site… not sure if that fits in any of these categories. Maybe it should be it’s own category.

  36. Good Information for beginners to E-commerce & website owners about what to do and what not to do.

  37. You make an important point about the metrics. We are focusing on the CPM metrics through I think we need to move to a CPC model with better targeting.

  38. It is good to see posts that discuss metrics in relationship to the goals of one’s website. Its too often that people have a site up but are not tracking impressions and visits. Good post!

  39. Thanks again for an awesome post, I’m working on an adult like website, so my tactics are some what different. For the most part though, this will do the job. thanks again.

  40. Right now i am working on conversion target, it is really important for running successful campaign.

  41. thanks for the article on this one … I liked the first point.

  42. For an information based site one of the best metrics to use is visitor recency. Basically it measures how often visitors are coming to your site.

    For an information based site you want your visitors to keep coming back to check out your new content.

    It is available as a default report in Google Analytics.

  43. You’re so right about tracking where your sales leads are coming from. I track all sales leads and it helps me figure out where my efforts are working. Thanks for the great post Whitney :)

  44. Great info. I have been getting in to all this tracking, ppc, adwords stuff for my business and this article is a huge help…thanks

  45. For the ecommerce, you could also focus on reducing bounce rate. This can be measured in google analytics as well.

  46. the biggest problem with google analytics and virtuemart in my joomla site is that they seem incompatible with tracking. Not sure how I can put in the payment page (which has dynamic url) for each different purhase as a goal …

  47. Great article. I agree a baseline report, followed by detailed monthly reporting is absolutely necessary to track progress. Google analytics conversion tracking has worked very well for us for lead generation websites.

  48. I have a AdSense account and i didnt used it for 2 years. Now i will use it cuz i see that people are getting rejected for creating new Adsense accounts. Thanks for the article.

  49. I’m amazed how many lead gen sites don’t employ specific phone number tracking on different landing pages either.

  50. This is a great post! It’s a good reminder to double check your work to make sure that it is paying off the way your are hoping it is.

  51. One of the biggest concerns with the information based site is to choose the right keywords for SEO, especially if website is magazine with several key categories and all of them are represented at the first page. What’s the best solution for this kind of dilemma?

  52. Look at AdWords to see how people are searching for content in your industry. You can put URL’s into AdWords of both your pages and your competitors to get keyword ideas.

  53. “You didn’t just put up a website in order to simply have pictures of yourself online” – this is true, we put website as a hobby or pass time, at first, but we can used it as a pot of gold if we only have the strategy.

  54. Exactly! You need to first figure out if the website is standing up to the expectations. You need to create benchmarks and outline the goals of your site.

  55. Tracking is getting more and more difficult with more cross-channel and cross-device data.. The new Anaylitics Conversion Attribution option is where I get nice new insights from to grow business.

  56. very useful ..

    This article can be a reference for all webmasters.

    thanks for sharing with us

  57. Fantastic article, everybody who works on websites should be aware of these items.

  58. Thanks for sharing a wonderful and very useful info in the above article. Good stuff to know about the information sites on Adsense revenue generation. Traffic is huge for Adsense especially if the click through rate is low. Please read all the webmaster and follow his steps.

  59. I am looking to learn adsense to monetize my blog. Gonna read all the info I can on this blog. Thanks (0:

  60. This is a great post! It’s a good reminder to double check your work to make sure that it is paying off the way your are hoping it is

  61. I am also looking to monetize my blog…this is very good info
    Thanks and I am bookmarking this blog for reference

  62. Make sure you are clear on what you want before you start developing.

  63. Informative post, I founf this blog very interesting thanks for sharing. I recently started working on a eCommerce site this post is gone help me on this

  64. Great article i set myself goals i hope i will archive them until 2013

  65. I listened to a half-an-hour piece on BBC Radio 4 last night about the ‘Internet Millionaires Club’ detailing the rise of get rich quick schemes being pushed to those who are most vulnerable.

    The programme went on to attack all internet marketers and condemn them for filling the internet up with so called junk. Whilst some of the things they are saying ring true, it’s a very cynical outlook on it all.

    I believe that you should not only outline the goals of your site, but also outline the goals of your audience. If you know what they are looking for then you are much more likely to sculpt the page into something that they will find useful, they may even revisit! :)

  66. Very Nice Post on deriving and calculating site goals. We also believe that without proper site and competitive analysis its difficult to reach the exact target audiences so its really needed to set this first and then capture the market to get good ranking and positioning.

  67. Great information to webmasters and company owners at least everyone can trace their footings

  68. Very good this post … the tips are very good and I will put into practice

  69. As a brand new site owner I’m learning a lot. Your article on setting goals was a good read. Thank you!

  70. Great article at the same time a tutorial. Thanks for posting this article. Additions to my learning. Keep it up!

  71. I have just started work at a SEO company and I think these concepts are really good. I am still very much a beginner. Adsense is something that i want to learn more about. So thanks and keep on sharing.

  72. Awesome post. I really think just stopping and thinking about what you want your website to do for you is a crucial and often overlooked factor in web development.

  73. The trickiest part of the job of webmaster is precisely to understand what exactly the customer wants.

  74. I really appreciate your article. One think I want to know, how do I set the custom alert?

  75. I use google insights to see what are the most searched words and use this to my campaign

  76. Definitely, very informative. Company owners especially online business could track down everything.

  77. Hi, I am agree with you as one should be very clear with his goals and targets. One should not toggle his mind every now and then.These tips are very helpful for those who are looking forward to start a promotional website.

  78. You are absolutely right. Without having a goal about what you are doing, there is nothing. All the content in the world cannot help you.

  79. Oh really that was amazing and very useful tips for calculating and tracing the traffic. Excellent post that was. We appreciate your work, keep it up. Thanks for sharing the above post.

  80. These are great tips. You have to have an idea of where you want to go in order to get there. Thanks for the info.

  81. I have an information based site with high quality articles about a Southamerican country. I try to monetize it through travel related affiliate programs – it doesn´t work. I think I will have to reevaluate my goals and model – thanks for a very helpful article!

  82. To have a clear goal is a must – but the problem is to get it. Thanks for sharing.

  83. This is definitely an informative read. It is always important to have a goal in mind when developing a website! If you don’t have a goal for the site then that is almost as bad as shooting in the dark.

  84. People are always saying that having goals is important, it definitely is sure but do not forget that that is not the whole point, you should be consistent in every possible way.

  85. You are right. Without creating a goal with what you are doing, there may be nothing. All this content on the earth cannot assist you.

  86. Yes! you are extremely correct.. In your life you just a goal and this one help a lot of people to pursue their goals in life.

  87. I think split testing is the most important for any semi-professional site.

  88. To have a clear goal is a must – but the problem is to get it. Thanks for sharing.

  89. The dominant pricing strategy for Ad Sense is to charge advertisers a fee per million impressions (CPM). Therefore, if you increase the amount of pageviews you have on your site, you can also increase the number of impressions and, likewise, your earnings through Ad Sense.

    That’s the goal for sure, but the problem that I’ve seen is most CPM’s require at minimum 200,000 unique daily visitors! How is that possible for a little small start up website. Do I need to wait 3 years to generate that kind of numbers?

    SEO SEO SEO…..I’m trying.

  90. Google analytics is the best by far , it has some great tools to help you with your conversion rate

  91. I certainly agree that page views are a valuable metric to track for information based sites, however, it might even be more important to track clicks since Adsense pays so much more per click than it pays per impression. Thanks for the great post!

  92. I’ve been using Google Analytics but my website is through weebly, and I can get tons of info similar to Analytics.

    But the two never have the same info. My analytics shows about 50% of the visitors that Weebly says.

  93. I really like the idea of dividing websites into categories in order to determine the site goals.

  94. great article I use the blogger statistics to measure the results of my site and google master tool

  95. Thanks for posting this article,very Informative to know about the information sites on Adsense revenue generation

  96. Some people have a mentality of throw it out there and see what sticks. SEO in particular is such a great platform to track and measure, in order to improve. Not many verticals are so trackable. Good article.

  97. For any business having some goals and following them with full effort is necessary. And measuring the statistics of our goals helps us and keeps on correct way.

  98. Thanks for the info. Did not know that page views increased cpc.

  99. My blog is all about blogging goals. It’s so important to keep raising the bar, and also writing goals down. I like how you’ve broken it down into different types of sites here.

  100. [...] Check out Whitney Wilding’s thoughts at GrokDotCom about determining, tracking and calculating your site goals. [...]

  101. Great information here! Knowing what exactly you want your site to do for you is the first step in optimizing its effectiveness. Also, monitoring analytics and other information will greatly increase your ability to understand exactly how your site is affecting your business.

  102. [...] View the original article here [...]

  103. Interesting points. It’s always a lot more fun to just build a website than to think about how to actually make money from it. It’s the followup that matters in the long run if you want it to be sustainable. Google Analytics is a powerful tool and worth using as much as you can (without going nuts on it!) it seems.

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