Improve your website’s performance
- Frances Gallimore
- 7 Sept 2020
- Edited 12 Oct 2022
- 7 min
- Managing and growing
How is your website performing? Perhaps you feel pretty good when you browse through your business website. It is an effective business card: clear menu choices, nice images, and a good story. You can do even better. By using statistics, you can get more visitors, downloads, or sales on your website.
The function your business website (in Dutch) fulfils in your company determines which statistics are important. Below, you will find 4 objectives of the marketing and sales funnel. For each objective, we list the most important statistics and give you some tips on how you can improve them. Finally, you will read about how you can view and evaluate the statistics of your website.
What objective does your website or a specific page have? Select one of these 4 options:
- The website supports the visibility of your business. Customers can get to know more about you, your vision, or practical information (address or opening hours) there. It is a place that reflects the atmosphere of your business and it is where you tell your story.
- The website supports your (potential) customers, interested in your service or product. They can go there for your offer and in-depth information. It helps them decide whether they want to buy your product or service.
- The website is primarily intended to generate turnover. Customers can make a purchase, a reservation, or an appointment.
- The website is mainly used as a customer service for existing customers. It contains information about the use and maintenance of your product or service. You offer various contact options such as email, telephone, chat, and/or WhatsApp.
To know if your customer can actually find you online, these statistics are helpful:
- Number of sessions per month. Session is a collective term for the actions that a visitor performs on your website within a certain period. It is a general figure that provides insight into the number of visitors to your website. Do you prefer to count the number of visitors? Keep in mind that one visitor could hold multiple sessions, for example when they switch devices or remove their cookies in between.
- Origin of your visitor. Not geographically but digitally. Which marketing channel brings the visitor to your website? For example, they could come from social media, a search engine, or an email newsletter.
- Are you a publisher and do you earn money from advertisements on a particular page? Then the number of page views of all pages or of a specific page will be interesting to you.
You want the number of sessions per month to increase. Is that not happening? Think about what (online) marketing activities you can implement to attract visitors. For example, become active on social media or send a newsletter.
Your website supports (potential) customers in deciding whether to choose your product or service. To know whether your website actually helps your customers in their research, these statistics are helpful:
- Number of pages per session. The higher this number, the more visitor are looking around on your website. They show interest, but it may also be that they have difficulties finding the right information.
- Top 10 of most visited pages. That is, the pages on your website with the most page views. The homepage is usually well-visited, but maybe the page where your prices are listed gets many visits as well. If so, it makes sense to put extra effort into that page. Add clear information and a call-to-action to entice the visitor. Does your contact page or 'about' page show up in your top 10? This is a good sign! Your visitor is showing interest in more than just your offer. They want to know more about you and your company, and might even want to contact you.
- Number of 'events'. An 'event' is an interaction of your visitor on the website, such as clicking a read more button, playing a video, or downloading a pdf document. You set up such events within your tool environment.
- Bounce rate. A bounce is a session where the visitor only opens 1 page of your website and then leaves again. The bounce rate is the percentage of sessions where this happens. If the bounce rate of your website is high, it is a sign of visitor disinterest.
Do your own research
If it is important to you that your customer does online research on your website, then you want the number of pages per visitor to be high and the number of events to increase. You will want to see informative pages in the top 10 of most visited pages. You will also want the bounce rate to be low. Is that not the case? Then do some qualitative research. Ask for feedback from friends, family, strangers, or possibly customers in your physical shop. Give them an assignment. For example: pretend you are looking for a new sofa and you come to my website. What do you think of the site?
In addition, you can use a heatmap tool such as Hotjar or Visual Website Optimizer (VWO). Such a tool shows what happens on your website (but not why). For example, on a heatmap you can see the scrolling or clicking behaviour of your website visitors through colours. The darker the colour, the more visitors click on that button or scroll up to that point. The results of these tools are reliable if they are based on at least 10,000 sessions per month on your website.
Your website primarily generates sales. You can determine whether customers actually make a purchase, a reservation, or an appointment from the statistics below.
- For online shops: number of transactions, amount of turnover, and average order value. You can also choose to focus on a certain product group. Determine what is most important for your business. A budget brand with cheap products will expect many transactions with a low average order value. For an exclusive brand with a high product price, the opposite is true.
- For reservation websites: conversion. This means that the desired action (making a reservation) is completed. In Google Analytics this is called a goal conversion (and not a 'transaction').
- In how many sessions are the steps in the order process completed? For example: placing products in the shopping cart, going to the payment page, paying, and visiting the thank you page. You want as few visitors as possible to drop out during the order process. And you want to know where most of them fall off. These statistics are more difficult to view, but a more experienced data analyst can set them up.
Place an order yourself
Is your turnover or conversion dropping or remaining the same? Then first find out if there is a technical problem with your website. Test the system by placing an order yourself. Then check how willing your visitors are to make a purchase. You can see this from the conversion percentage, which tells you what percentage of the number of sessions leads to a purchase. For example, if there are 1,000 sessions in a month and 10 purchases, the conversion rate is 1.
If that percentage turns out low, check the origin of your visitor. Usually, visitors from search engines or newsletters are ready to buy. They are actively looking for a product or service. Visitors who type your website into the URL bar or into their favourites are also ready to buy (this marketing channel is called 'direct'). Is this not the case? Then check whether your price, offer, or conditions (such as shipping costs) prevent the visitor from making a purchase. Do some competitor research, for example.
Your website or a specific page primarily functions as a service to existing customers. But is it also being used for that purpose? Check these statistics to find out:
- Number of page views of the FAQ or 'frequently asked questions' page. Which question has the highest number of page views (if each question is on a separate page) or is clicked open most often?
- Number of clicks on different contact options. You can measure this by setting up an event in the back end. Which contact option is used the most?
Do you receive many calls despite the fact that the information is available on your website? Then place the information more prominently on your website. For example, place a clear link from your homepage to the FAQ page. Do some Google searches yourself. Can you easily find the manual for your product, for example? Get feedback from customers (see statistics for informative websites). You can also put a reference to your online help centre in the order confirmation and email newsletter.
There are several tools available to view the data of your website. Google Analytics is free and extensive. Heap Analytics is free up to a certain number of sessions. This tool offers particularly easy registration of events. There are also paid solutions available such as Adobe Analytics and Matomo.
To use one of these tools, you have to create an account and install a code on your website. Then you can view and analyse the statistics. Consult YouTube tutorials or tutorials given by the providers to find your way around the tool of your choice.
Evaluate the figures
Is 1,000 sessions per month a lot? Is a 30% bounce rate normal? There are several ways to determine whether you can judge a result as good.
- Based on historical data of your own website. You compare a result with that of last month or last year. The advantage of using your own data as a benchmark is that you start from your own situation and goal. Another website may have been around longer, have a different offer, or be active in a different segment.
- Based on your business objective. You set a goal for your website based on your business objectives. When you achieve the goal, you are satisfied.
- Based on a benchmark from your branch or industry. This method is less accurate. You can search online for available benchmarks or published studies by the tool provider or by third parties, such as media agencies.
Do not get lost
Do not fall into the trap of wanting to know everything. Focus the scope of your research by looking at the right numbers and their growth. This has the following advantages:
- You get to know your customer and their interests better. What you think is the most important page of your website may not be the page that visitors visit the longest or most often.
- You can now base business decisions not only on feelings, but also on data. This allows you to realistically estimate the size of a problem or an opportunity. For example, how many times has your course programme been downloaded, or a specific course page been viewed? A marketing campaign to promote the most popular course is the most likely to yield the highest return.
- You will discover the bottlenecks of your website. For example, do you see that there are many visitors on a blog post, but few visitors on the reservation page? Chances are that there is no clear link from the blog post to the reservation page.
- You can set motivating targets. Show yourself and/or your staff what effect activities have on the number of visitors, downloads, or turnover. And then set ambitious but realistic growth targets. Make sure you choose the right statistic(s) so you can achieve growth where you really want it.