Critical Metrics for Better Customer Intelligence

September 3, 2020 Kara Frazier

What does the number of sessions on your site per week really mean? That there were x amount of people who visited your site last week? 

That’s great! Now what? The goal of metrics should be to understand customers. Is that possible with one metric? Probably not. 

With an explosion of channels and opportunities for customers to interact with a brand, understanding the complete buying journey requires an inquisitive, holistic approach. In short: companies need multiple metrics to understand their customers. 

So what should be tracked? Well, there is no single golden metric, but there is a golden method to understanding customers and winning more conversions, and it starts with asking the right questions.

Transform Reporting Questions into Business Questions

The questions you’re asking should lead to insights that can help adapt business strategies. Start by turning reporting questions into business questions that get to the core of the customers’ experiences. 

Reporting Questions:

  • How many visitors did we get on campaign X?
  • How many times was our message seen, broken down by channel?
  • How many unqualified visits did we get last week?

Business Questions:

  • Which visitor segment had the most efficient conversion rate on campaign X? How can we improve the success for that segment?
  • Which message and channel combinations produce the highest conversion rates, which combinations have the most efficient ad spend, and how should that influence how we spend our marketing dollars?
  • Which segments had the highest and lowest bounce rates last week? What does that suggest about our messaging? How do our conversion rates compare to bounce rates—does one go down when the other goes up?

Implementing and emphasizing business questions like those above lead companies toward a more complete picture of the audience, the factors that are driving them, and how an organization can take action to drive further sales. 

Three Critical Metrics for Business Success

Once equipped with the right questions, reassess the metrics that inform your strategies. We will focus on three metrics that drive customer insights and business success.

Metric 1: Sessions

One of the most commonly requested metrics is sessions: the number of times a user visits a specific site.

Knowing how much traffic a site receives is valuable, but more information is needed to make strategic business decisions. Suppose, for example, a visitor landed on your homepage by accident, or opened the page, but then walked away only to come back and close it later without looking at any content?

To get the full view of how customers arrive at and interact with a site, you need to investigate the behaviors that support sessions. These include:

  • Time Spent
  • Engagement
  • Number of New Sessions

The amount of time users spend can indicate their interest in what’s offered. Understanding how many pages are viewed per session, which pages are viewed the most, and which pages have high exit rates suggest which content models are working well and those that need improvement.

In addition to the amount of time users spend on a site, it is important to watch for the signs of life known as user engagements:

  • Clicks
  • Mouse movement
  • Scrolls
  • Searches
  • Etc.

Additionally, reviews, advocacy, and social media discussions are also engagements. Social
listening is essential to understanding how customers perceive what you’re doing and what they need from you.

Also consider the number of new sessions in a given time frame. If you have high rates of session time, but few of those users are returning visitors, odds are you have a problem.

Metric 2: Click-through Rate

Years ago, everything was about “hits”—any sort of digital tap on a property. Marketers would flood various mediums with their ads and cross their fingers that they would get a large enough hit number. The final number might have been impressive, but was useless as it provided no actionable information.

Marketers have progressed to tracking the click-through rate (CTR). This metric holds marketers more accountable. They must win clicks from their audience at a certain rate. CTR pushes marketers to create a more focused strategy when it comes to target audience, frequency, and content.

If you have a high CTR, then it’s safe to say people are interested in your product, but that’s not the whole story, especially if you have a high bounce rate.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors who land on a site and leave immediately without progressing to other pages within the site or taking any action on the landing page. These sessions still count as click-throughs to the site, which can warp the perception of

If the CTR is accompanied by a high bounce rate, ask the following questions:

  • Why are people not staying on the site?
  • Why did they show the initial click interest only to take off shortly after landing?
  • What does a high bounce rate suggest about your SEO efforts, site design, web traffic targeting?

If you have a high bounce rate, there may be a disconnect between campaigns and the content or functionality of your site.

Combining CTR with the bounce rate can be more revealing of how your campaign and site are actually performing. They can also help you understand customer’s interests and needs, empowering the creation of more effective campaigns that have higher engagement as measured by higher CTR and lower bounce rates.

Metric 3: Conversions

Conversions are arguably the most sought after metric in digital marketing. Often this metric is the only one requested and the only one reported.

Conversion rate is generally defined as the number of outcomes per visitor (unique or total depending on preference) during a specified time frame. Usually that’s what management wants to know: the number of orders submitted, leads generated, tasks completed, goals achieved, etc. And the focused interest on this metric makes sense, because, basically, conversions = money.

So why not just ask for the bottom line?

At first glance, measuring conversions seems like an easy way to measure overall success or progress. However, there are so many different campaigns running on a site at any given time and there are so many types of conversions to measure, that compiling all of these unique measurements provides only a watery illustration of what is really happening.

Conversion rates should be broken down into specific categories and paired with their crucial counterpart to tell you the whole customer story. Two of the most important counterparts are value and task completion.


Value can be assigned in terms of revenue, directly through purchases, or indirectly as lead generation. Like CTR, the conversion rate can also be deceiving. You could have a high
conversion percentage that might be inflated by many lower-value conversions, or a low conversion percentage that is disguising a few high-value conversions.

The value placed on each conversion should be disclosed whenever reporting on conversion rates to know exactly what kind of return you are getting on each effort at each conversion point.

Task Completion

Some form of a task completion rate should be applied to a conversion rate to analyze why some visitors begin a critical process but fall out without completing it.

Any given “task” is going to vary depending on the type of company, business objectives, and site objectives. Some sites will look at the ratio of form starts to completions. Others will look at the ratio of those who begin a configuration process to those who complete it.

Whatever the tasks may be, use the task completion rate to make sure you’re providing excellent experiences for customers. If users do not have a satisfactory visit to your site, they may not come back, and you want them to come back and convert, time and again.

Avinash Kaushik, author and digital marketing evangelist, described the conversion rate dilemma like this

“Conversion Rate solves for the company and Task Completion Rate solves for the customer… Conversion Rate only tells you how a very small fraction of your users, who came to buy, did. Task Completion Rate shows you how 100% of your audience did, were they all successful regardless of why they came to the site.”

You must explain the relationship of these metrics to leadership and colleagues who ask for reports on the site conversion rate, like so:

“Of 74,000 sessions on our site, 2.3% are converting, but of the 10,000 people who actually started the conversion process, only 17% are making it through. Let’s figure out how to optimize that process.”

Take the time and effort to show why individual metrics like overall conversion rate cannot provide enough information to make effective business decisions.

Don’t Forget About Data Quality

Without customers, you have no business. And without understanding your customers, you have no business. 

Combining critical metrics with their crucial counterparts and taking the time to analyze and explain those metrics to others can increase your knowledge of customer behaviors and have a huge financial payoff, but not if your data is inaccurate. 

Broken tags, missing tags, duplicate tags, status code errors, JavaScript errors, etc., happen more often than you might think, and these lapses create warped customer stories and deceptive customer intelligence. 

ObservePoint ensures that the “right” data is informing your most important strategies by using automation to audit your site and mobile app and alert your team to data collection errors. With validated data, you can trust the accuracy of customer insights and create strategies that will improve customer experiences and drive growth and ROI. 

See how ObservePoint can help you achieve accurate data and drive growth by requesting a free audit.

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