Key Performance Indicators for ecommerce stores, lead gen sites, content & subscription sites

What online marketers need to be measuring

May 28, 2014
Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs) are essential metrics that help organizations measure their success. For instance, one of the most important goals (if not the most important goal) for an ecommerce store is to get “conversions”.

E-commerce stores, subscription, lead generation, and content sites need to figure out, as early as possible; exactly what KPIs they are going to keep an eye on. The success of any website hinges on the ability to align carefully chosen KPIs with overall business goals. For instance, tracking and monitoring “number of page views” on an ecommerce store might not have too much business value and probably shouldn’t be a primary KPI.

When we, at Cactimedia, provide ecommerce services in Dubai and UAE, a general rule of thumb is to always ask, “What business value does this KPI hold?” Again, going back to the example of an ecommerce store, if someone suggests that the number of unique visitors should be tracked as a KPI, we should obsess over whether there is any business value in getting more new visitors. “I don’t think so”, is my answer.

Ecommerce stores need to track…

Conversions: No debate here. How many orders is the online store generating? Do conversions have any real business value? Oh, yes indeed! Can it be expressed as a number? Yes!

Average order value: This should be right up there with conversions as one of the most important KPIs to track and optimize for. In some circles, it is believed that increasing the average order value is a lot harder than increasing the conversions. It takes lots of A/B testing and user interface testing to get this number to go up.

After all, the total revenue is equal to total conversions into the average order value. It’s well worth it!

Checkout abandonment rate: Woah! This is a big one too. In the world of ecommerce, abandonment rates have been in the 60s and 70s and it’s one of the biggest challenges that marketers face. Triggered Messaging (http://www.triggeredmessaging.com/blog/real-time-marketing-report-for-july-2013) says abandonment rate in 2013 is around 60%. This report (http://visual.ly/basket-abandonment-stats-q2-2013) from Visual.ly indicates it’s a whopping 75%.

Lead generation websites need to track…

Conversions: This is your KIP to watch if you are running a lead generation website. This is the number of visits into the number of leads captured.

Close ratio: If there is some form of offline activity required after the lead is captured online, then it’s worth tracking the number of sales generated out of the total leads captured. For some companies this “is” your conversion rate. Why is this KPI important? Because leads = sales = revenue and therefore, converting more leads into sales has a direct business impact.

Content & subscription websites…

Content websites generally get their revenues from selling premium paid content or by making their site open to advertisers. So keeping that in mind, content sites should be tracking:

Monthly visitors: If the primary source of revenue is from advertisers then it makes sense to track the number of visitors the site gets. Content websites with high numbers of visitors can demand a comparatively higher rate from advertisers.

Page views: Along with monthly visitors, tracking the “number of page views per month” is also very important for content websites. More page views mean more engagement with the website - and that easily translates into more revenue through advertising.

Number of paid members/subscribers vs. non paid members/subscribers: For websites that depend on paid memberships and subscriptions, it’s obviously important to track this metric. Tracking sub-KPIs such as the ratio of paid members vs. non paid members and the level of activity from the paid membership base. Low level of activity could very well result in un-subscriptions, and thereby impacting the bottom line.

Average subscription length: So, how long do paid subscribers remain subscribed? Working on this KPI will positively affect revenue by focusing on retaining existing paid subscribers.

Determining which KPIs to track and which ones to ignore could vary from industry to industry, company to company and even from department to department. I have seen these KPIs change as the business grows and the objectives of the website start to align more closely with the bottom line.

It’s vital for the whole business to decide on a few primary KPIs and then religiously track and optimize the site in order to get these numbers moving in the right direction.