A few days ago, during an online coffee date with a great friend and fellow online biz owner, the subject of traffic came up, as it so often does, and she made this statement. See if it sounds familiar:
I'm obsessed with my pageviews. On days I post [a blog], I think I spend more time refreshing the page than doing anything else. It's embarrassing to even talk about! I know there are about a million better uses of my time.
Have you been guilty of hitting refresh a few more times than you should? I know I have.
At first the practice may seem harmless but standing on the sidelines, becoming a spectator of our traffic costs us more than we may realize. It distracts us from other metrics that truly matter.
(If you doubt the importance we place on pageviews, try removing any visible stats from your blog's dashboard for a week and see how you feel!)
Is more traffic really the point?
Does traffic pay your mortgage? Does traffic help you make the impact on the world you want to make? Does it build a stronger relationship with your audience?
In the (very) rare cases where a blogger fully supports themselves off ad income, traffic does pay the bills but that's the exception not the rule. It's usually a bunch of income streams that help a blogger transition from having an expensive hobby, to a hobby they get paid for, to owning a full-on income producing business.
So is traffic really the point? And if it's not, where can we look for real feedback on stats that truly matter to the health of our businesses?
STATS THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Depending on the goals for your site, you're going to want to track different stats. But don't just track things for the sake of it. A stat you're watching and trying to improve should be directly tied to a goal you're trying to achieve or it's a waste of your time.
I'm going to go through some of the metrics I keep an eye on in my service business as an example.
What I track in my business is going to be different than what you track in yours because different metrics mean different things in different businesses.
1. Email Sign Ups: Anyone who's ever tried to launch a program, class, event, or service has seen the power of the list. You can very closely predict what your sales or enrollment will be based on the list size you're working with at the time of launch. Really, as in a percent or 2 kind of prediction.
Most lists convert to sales around 2-5%. If your email subscriber list is 100 people, you can expect between 2-5 people to purchase. And that percentage is completely independent of your daily pageviews. Even with tons of traffic, a small list usually equals small sales.
2. Email Sign Up Conversion Rate: Although this may sound confusing, sign up conversion rate is simply the percentage of people who sign up for your email list out of all the people who land on your site. Total sign ups divided by total visitors.
Since we're talking percentages here, that does mean if you have more traffic, you'll also be getting more people on your email list. What's often left out of that equation is that if you can increase your email conversion rate, increase the percentage of people who sign up, you don't need as much traffic as you think to grow your list.
3. Sales/Revenue: If your goal is to produce an income with your site, it's important to know how much you're making because without income, you don't have a business!
4. Service Inquires: One metric I track closely is how often I receive inquires about design or coaching services. As you can imagine, the amount of inquires that come in is directly related to the amount of new clients that I work with.
Understanding how new inquires find you, their motivations for reaching out, etc. help you to do more activities that encourage inquires.
The other side of inquires is what percentage of people who contact you, follow through and purchase services. If you track this and realize that you normally work with 40% of people who contact you, you can focus on improving your sales conversations and communication to improve that number.
5. Referrals and Repeat Clients: Referrals are of great importance to any blogger or biz offering something for sale. When you over serve and dazzle people with what you do, clients and customers will jump all over themselves to send friends your way.
Knowing how many of your new customers are referrals helps you see whether this area of your biz needs more work and can help you ask clients what their hesitations may be to recommend you.
Now it's Your Turn
Based on your goals, what's one thing you could track (that isn't traffic) that would give you information to act on?