Measure your digital performance
If your business has an online presence, it's important to know if it's effective. Measuring digital performance helps you to:
- better understand your customers' online behaviour
- improve your website and online activities to increase your profitability.
Develop a digital tracking strategy
You can create a digital tracking strategy or plan to track each of the digital activities your business completes. Digital activities might include:
- advertising campaigns
- a website redesign
- publishing new digital content
- social media campaigns
- email marketing.
The strategy states the goals of each activity and the metrics required to measure their effectiveness.
Each goal must be measurable. Some examples of goals might be to:
- increase sales by 25%
- increase leads by 50%
- reduce website bounce rate by 20%
- reduce the cost of leads by 40%.
Example of a digital tracking strategy:
Metrics (measurements) required
Paid online advertising campaign
Gathering website data (tracking)
Gathering and tracking website data involves collecting information about website visitors to determine how they:
- arrived at your website
- behaved when they were on your site.
When you understand how people use your website, you'll understand what works well and what needs to change to get your website to perform better and meet its purpose.
Your website's purpose may be to:
- share information
- collect sign-ups
- sell products or services
- achieve other business goals.
For your website to achieve its purpose, your website visitors must complete specific actions. Website data can help you track and improve this these activities.
There are a number of ways to track your website data.
Google Analytics is a free online tool you can use to track and measure the digital performance of your website. It gathers statistics on your website and represents them in visual reports on a Google Analytics dashboard.
It uses these 3 tracking measures.
- Acquisition—shows how visitors arrived at your website, including:
- the keywords they used in their search
- what they clicked on to arrive at your website.
- Behaviour—shows what visitors do once they are on your website, including:
- the pages they visit
- the length of the visit
- what page they were on when they left the website.
- Conversion—shows if visitors completed the activities needed to fulfil the purpose of your website, for example, how successfully visitors were converted into customers.
What you can learn from the data
How customers found your website
By knowing where visitors came from, you can see how much of your website traffic is generated by different websites, search terms and social media platforms. This can help you tailor your marketing and advertising strategies to the websites, media and keywords that are most successful in driving your inbound traffic.
Your customer demographics
Google Analytics can provide detailed information on the demographics of your customers. Analysing customer demographics can help you tailor your advertising campaigns towards this group.
For example, a construction company might find that 70% of their website traffic is made up of males aged 45+ who are located in rural Queensland. The analytics could show that these customers came to your website through a social media site. This data would suggest an opportunity to expand social media marketing into rural Queensland targeted to the 45+ male age group.
How customers behave on your site
Behaviour analytics allow you to identify the most and least successful pages in keeping customers engaged. This measure can help you to understand the user experience online. Customer behaviour analytics may also identify pages or areas of your website that need to be updated and improved. For example, your website navigation may be confusing, or there might be missing or broken links that cause potential customers to leave your website.
What advertising campaigns are the most successful
Conversion analytics can measure the effectiveness of different campaigns showing the cost versus revenue of paid advertising campaigns.
What website features are the most effective
Your website may have interactive features and calls to action. For example, it may have a buy-now button or a pop-up asking customers to subscribe to your mailing list to receive a discount. You can use conversion analytics to see which of these are the most successful in converting a website visitor into a customer.
Depending on where your website is hosted, you may also have the option to install 'plug-ins' on your website. Plug-ins (small pieces of software that fulfil a specific function) can provide additional insights when your current performance measurement and tracking tools don't provide the insights you require.
You may not need any plug-ins, or you may choose to use 1 or 2 that show you the most important information in a simple and easy-to-manage way.
Different plug-ins offer different statistics on your website performance. Plug-ins can be:
- used with Google Analytics
- used with website dashboards.
Research each plug-in before you install it to see if it:
- offers the data types and insight you need
- is compatible with other tools you are using.
To find analytic plug-ins, do a search for plug-ins in the website backend.
You can use a website dashboard to:
- manage your site and site contents
- collect, present and interpret website data.
Different dashboards will have different levels of functionality and complexity. In some cases, they can provide a simple way of obtaining valuable insights into the performance of your website.
Website dashboards may be provided by your hosting company or obtained from a third party.
There are a range of stand-alone tools that can measure your digital performance. These are software packages you can use to track your website performance and statistics.
You can use stand-alone tools to measure a range of different digital outcomes. These include:
- content metrics—shows how well your content is performing in clicks, views and engagement
- customer analytics tools—assesses your customers' different behaviours and characteristics
- usability analytics tools—can assess the movement and patterns of behaviour that users take on your web page. This can help you adjust your website design and layout for more significant impact and success
- search engine optimisation (SEO) analytics tools—assess your SEO performance, including links to other sites and keyword performance
- general analytics tools—can assess the standard metrics that apply to your site's performance, such as speed, user behaviour, and conversions.
You'll most likely not need all of these tools, but they are good options if you want to measure a specific item that is not covered by your web dashboard or other built-in analytics.
Action item: Get started with Google Analytics
Interpreting website data
Once you've gathered data and statistics about your website, you'll need to interpret the data to understand what this means for your website.
Below is an outline of some common website tracking metrics (measurements) and what they are used to track. This can help you understand the data gathered data.
These visitors are counted once, even if they repeatedly visit your site. Unique visitor tracking helps you:
Top website traffic sources
Top website traffic sources are the online sources that send the most traffic to your website. Monitoring these sources can:
This shows the number of users who visit only 1 page on your website and don't click through to any other pages.
A high bounce rate (around 70%) may indicate that:
Pages viewed per session
Time on page
When you analyse your website results, you'll assess the different items as low or high depending on what is standard for your website.
While these numbers may vary, you can use the following as a guide until you gather enough data to identify your performance levels.
- Average bounce rate: 40–50%
- Low bounce rate: 25–40%. Most visitors stayed on your web page and clicked links on that page
- High bounce rate: 70–100%. Most visitors did not stay on your web page very long and didn't click any of the links on that page
- Average session duration: 2–3 minutes
- Low session duration: Less than 2 minutes. The content on your website was not what visitors were seeking
- High session duration: More than 3 minutes. Visitors found your content engaging and spent time reading it
Pages per session
- Average pages per session: 3
- Low pages per session: Less than 3. Visitors found what they needed and read those pages
- High pages per session: Perhaps visitors couldn't find what they were looking for and were skimming many pages on your site to find answers
- This metric also is dependent on the session duration
|Example scenario||Possible interpretation|
The user visited many web pages but did not stay on each page very long. This could mean:
- Search engine optimisation (SEO)—involves adjusting your website to meet the needs of algorithms used by search engines to enable your page to rank higher when users search relevant keywords.
- Social media—sites provide detailed analytics that can be used to determine the effectiveness of your social-media performance.
- Search engine marketing (SEM)—involves tracking any search engine marketing used, such as keywords, Google Ads, and paid search engine ads.
- Online presence—your online presence can be tracked using reputation trackers and alerts showing when you've been mentioned online.
Expenditure versus impact
Measuring your digital performance can help you determine if your digital activities are paying off.
- Expenditure refers to the time, effort and other resources used to manage your digital presence. It includes items such as staff wages, and payment for advertising campaigns and content creation.
- Impact refers to the value your business gains from completing an activity.
When managing your online business needs, make sure your expenditure results in the impacts you want. For example, you might be willing to spend more money on growing website visitor numbers (traffic) and a website redesign if this expenditure increases online sales or inquiries.
Each digital activity in a digital strategy is linked to both expenditure and potential impact for your business.
Some examples are shown in the table below.
Social media profile or individual posts
Gain new fans and followers, who may become customers
Advertising campaign or individual advertisements
Increase click-throughs to your website, bringing new customers and increasing sales
Multiple sales possible
Customers discover new products in your range, leading to increased sales
Calculating expenses versus impact
Methods to assess the relationship between your expenditure and its impact include:
- cost per lead—this measures how much each new lead cost your business. A lead is a potential new customer and can be generated when customers sign up for something or fill out a form. Cost per lead is calculated by adding up the costs associated with a product or online advertising campaign and dividing this cost by the number of leads generated over a time period. Cost per lead must be kept as low as possible to increase profit.
- cost per acquisition—this determines how much each new customer has cost your business. It's calculated by adding up the costs associated with a product or online advertising campaign and dividing this cost by the number of new customers. As a business owner, you want to keep the cost per acquisition as low as possible.
- return on investment (ROI)—measures how much income or value you obtained from the investment you made. In terms of digital performance, investments might include advertising campaigns, hiring digital specialists, website design, etc. To calculate return on investment, you can use the following formula:
- Return on investment (%) = (Net profit ÷ Cost of investment) x 100
Calculate return on investment
Digital performance reporting
Once you've measured your digital performance, you can generate analytics reports to help you make informed changes that benefit your business performance.
What you can learn from reports
Reports can be used to track and assess performance over time to explain specific campaigns and their impacts.
Reports may show information such as:
- what the intended outcome of a campaign or activity was
- the metrics that applied
- the cost of the activity
- how long the activity lasted
- a conclusion, explaining if it was successful or not.
Reports can be customised to focus on different areas of your digital performance, including information on:
- how your advertising performed
- website metrics
- social media metrics
- click-throughs from landing pages.
Week-to-week comparison reporting can be helpful to identify trends in expenditure or impacts that you may need to address. For example, if the cost per acquisition from an advertising campaign increases week on week, or the return on investment decreases, it would be good to reassess, redefine or pause the campaign.
- Last reviewed: 11 May 2022
- Last updated: 29 Jun 2023