Analytics Deep Dive Part One: 4 Metrics Your Company is Probably Reading Wrong

Author: Aditya Khanna | Categories: Digital Analytics, Google Analytics, Digital Marketing

In the competitive business of professional services, the only way to justify your online budgets is successful reporting. As Peter Drucker famously said, “What gets measured, gets managed.”

Unfortunately, many marketers are simply unable to clearly tie their digital efforts to bottom line results. While the ITSA reports that 76% of marketers increased their budgets in the next year, a startling 80% of senior executives fail to measure marketing ROI, according to the Harvard Business Review. The lesson is clear: Marketing without analytics is incomplete.

To bridge this gap, I developed this series of analytic tips to help professional service firms better understand what online metrics matters most, and recommend specific ideas to better measure your efforts online.

In part one of our analytics series, we will look deeply at the data that you can track on your website to discover why traditional page analytics fails to provide true business insights to professional firms.

Why Page Analytics Matters

Marketing analytics allows companies to review all the online tracking data and pulls meaningful insight out of those numbers. In doing that, marketers can then measure and analyze the performance of both their offline and online marketing campaigns.
On a website, site analytics helps understand the behavior of the site visitor, and tries to identify how best to target your efforts to convert unknown traffic into known, qualified leads – and ultimately customers.

Some of these challenges come down to budget. While most marketing managers spend a lot of time and money in website development, content marketing and SEO, they allocate just a fraction to analytics. Further, for those marketers who do invest in analytics, only 9% think that it contributes to their marketing success.

Looking beyond site traffic

Beyond budget allocations, interpreting site data can also prove a major challenge to marketers – they simply don’t know what to measure, and how to evaluate the data they do measure.

For example, marketers spend lot of money to drive traffic to their websites. And, while looking at the number of individual visitors your site attracts is a good measurement of its reach, traffic data can give you blinders against other important insights on your page.

Other standard site metrics frequently used by marketing managers include: session duration, page views, bounce rate, time on site and frequency. While these single data points can provide some directional insight, used alone these metrics fail to provide any decision-making data.

Traffic alone can’t improve how qualified visitors convert – you need to think about engagement, or how well does your site appeal to your audience and channel your visitors’ interactions. Measuring this engagement will provide much more reliable insight for strategic marketing decisions.

Four Examples of Analytics Tracking Gone Wrong

Here are several examples of single metrics that marketers often track, and how someone could draw the wrong conclusion from their data by focusing on a single point of information:

I: Session duration:

The session duration is the amount of time user has spent browsing a website in a single session. It is calculated by taking the timestamp of the last activity on the website minus timestamp of the first activity.
Examples of how session duration data can cause insight problems:

  1. The visitor finds your website using Google search and lands on your contact us page. He finds your company’s contact information (phone number) in 20 seconds and then leaves your website. The session duration is zero, but he found what he came for and called a sales rep.Is that meaningful data? No.
  2. The visitor finds you by brand name and directly goes to your home page. Then, her baby cries and she spend next 30 minutes with her baby, ignoring the website. Session duration 32 minutes. Does that give you a clear picture? No.

II: Page views per session:

As the name implies, page views per session are a number of pages a visitor clicks on during a single session on your site.


  1. A visitor comes to your website searching for some keyword in Google. He visits 15 pages, but leaves without filling out any forms, or triggering any event (video, download or form). While his page views per session = 15, what he was thinking or looking for in those pages still remains a mystery.

Can you count that as engagement? Hard to say.

III: Visits per visitor:

Again, this term is easy to understand and relates to the total number of times a reader visits a website in a selected reporting period.


  1. A visitor visits your website, spends a lot of time in some blog posts, signs up for a newsletter, but does not return within 7 days.
  2. A visitor visits your website 5 times in 7 days but does not trigger any event.

Which one would you count as an engaged visitor? Probably the first one which has a frequency value of one compared to the second example where the frequency is five, but can you trust this metric?

IV: Conversions:

Conversion is a self-defined metric, and happens when the visitor successfully accomplishes the goal of the page, which established in your initial analytics set up. For example, conversion can be defined as downloading a whitepaper, watching a video for more than 15 minutes, filling up a contact form, signing up for a webinar, subscribing to a newsletter, etc.


  1. A visitor subscribes to our newsletter and becomes a regular visitor to your website – For illustration sake, we will assume she’s visited your page 10 times in a last 30 days.
  2. A visitor downloads a whitepaper and never returned after that.

Which visitor is a prospect? Possibly both, but it’s hard to be sure, right?

Take a Holistic Approach to Your Analytics

These examples show the complex world of one site analytics. Remember: Standing alone, each metric on your page cannot give you valuable insights about the visitor. The key is to look holistically, and consider the big picture. How do these numbers work together?

Using your site data, you can create a model to measure your site engagement measurement. Because each business and website is different, your measurement engagement model should be specific to your business goals and aligned with your buyers/prospects persona.

Ready to learn more about site engagement? Come back next month for part two of the analytics series and discover how to create measurement engagement model to tease out meaningful insights about your visitors from your site data.

Discussion Question: Does your firm practice Analytics? What tips do you have to share with other Professional Service Firms?

Customer Engagement