Whether you consider yourself an affiliate marketer who creates content, or a content creator who leverages affiliate marketing, there are certain website metrics you should be in the habit of checking daily.
While more advanced analytics, such as visitor behaviour flow, customer lifetime value, etc, can be reviewed less often, the figures we focus on below are important to stay on top of. These metrics reveal critical opportunities to course-correct if there’s an unexpected blip, as well as to capitalise on promotional activities that seem to be taking off. If you’ve historically avoided a daily stats check-in because you find reviewing metrics confusing or time-consuming, take heart – this article is for you. It covers the whats and whys of each figure you’ll want to look at, so you can breeze through your review with the background knowledge to understand what you’re seeing.
Before we continue, make sure you’ve got your analytics tool of choice installed and configured properly (Google Analytics is an industry standard – here’s our introductory article and for WordPress sites specifically, the Jetpack and MonsterInsights plug-ins are good ones to look into as well). Now, take a minute to absorb the info below, bookmark this article if you need to, and commit to being one of those creators who always knows their stats!
What it is: Your traffic! This is one you probably are checking regularly, if not daily. This number represents how many unique visits your website received in a given day. Note that multiple visits by the same person in the same day will not show up in this figure; this is a count of individual human readers.
Why it’s important: Is your new post a hit? Has another influencer mentioned you on social media? Did another site link to your content? Is there a technical difficulty preventing page loads? Your visitor number will tip you off to these events.
What it is: As opposed to visitor count, this is the number of times an individual page is viewed (as the name implies). If the same person reads an article multiple times, each of those views will show up in the page-views metric.
Why it’s important: Checking your page views will begin to answer questions such as: how engaged are my visitors? Are they reading multiple pieces of content? (If page views are significantly higher than visitors, the answer is yes.) Did you do enough promotion of your current post? Is an old post suddenly getting a lot of traffic? What are readers engaging with today?
What it is: This is a list of the channels and mediums (organic search, paid ads, social-media sites, etc) that are sending traffic to your site.
Why it’s important: It’s hard to imagine a more valuable insight – of course you want to know how people are finding your site. Reviewing this metric provides instructive feedback on where your content is being shared and how it’s being discovered. It may also speak to the preferences and traits of the audiences your posts resonate with: do they spend their time on other blogs? On social media? Plus – what can you infer about them based on this, and how can you shift your content strategy to better serve them?
What it is: This is a list of the terms people typed into a search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc) which, upon seeing your content listed in the results, landed them on your website.
Why it’s important: This feedback works in two ways:
1) It’s a measure of the effectiveness of any search-engine optimisation (SEO) efforts you’re engaged in (that is, are you showing up for what you want to show up for, and are you getting visits from searchers with the appropriate questions and intent?). Here’s a primer on ways to improve your SEO.
2) It provides rich content ideas by highlighting tangential topics and terminology common among your readers, which they’d probably appreciate you covering.
What it is: This is the number of people who have signed up to receive email communications from you (such as a newsletter), or notifications about new posts (like with an RSS feed).
Why it’s important: If nothing else, this can be a mood-booster! Subscribers are among your biggest fans, so seeing your list grow can do a lot for your confidence. On the flip side, a wave of unsubscribes is a downer, but an important indicator that a new topic, action, or message isn’t hitting home.
Clicks/Click-through Rate (CTR)
What it is: We’re talking specifically about affiliate clicks here – the number of clicks, or percentage of visitors who click, on affiliate links and ads on your site. You’re probably familiar with the term ‘CTR’, but in case it’s bit fuzzy, it’s calculated by dividing number of clicks by number of impressions (‘impressions’ being the number of times your link/ad is shown). So, if you got five clicks from 100 impressions, your CTR would be 5%.
Why it’s important: Earning meaningful affiliate revenue means getting affiliate marketing right, and this metric is a powerful indicator of whether you’re on the right track. If clicks aren’t where you’d like them to be, it’s wise to reconsider your ad/link placements, and the messaging around them. You may also need to change your promotional tactics.
What it is: What counts as a conversion, as well as the preferred metric for measuring it, varies among creators depending on their sales structure and activities. In many cases, a conversion is either a completed web form (contact form, registration form, content-download form, etc) or an online sale (either directly, or through an affiliate link).
Why it’s important: For some publishers, this is the ultimate success metric. And for all publishers, it’s a very important stat. A good conversion rate suggests you’ve established trust with your audience, your onsite marketing is on-point, and your offers are compelling. Conversely, low conversions means you should increase your focus on one or more of these points in the sales process. Here’s some more information on how to improve your conversions.
Bonus Metric: Bounce Rate
Technically, this is more of a weekly metric, but it’s closely related to some of the daily stats we’ve already covered, so we’ve included it here. Check it once or twice a week.
What it is: This percentage is the amount of web visits that ended after a single page view. In other words, the person ‘bounced’ from your site – without clicking to read anything further – after viewing only one page. This is a metric that requires a bit of digging and context. In general, you want people to keep browsing, but it’s also possible that the page they landed on had all the info they needed. Which is to say, a bounce isn’t always a bad thing.
Why it’s important: A high overall bounce rate likely indicates visitors aren’t finding what they expected or aren’t satisfied with what they’re finding. Look at the following areas:
- Your titles and meta descriptions
- Social posts and ad copy, to ensure you’re accurately representing your content
- The articles themselves – if they need improvement, that should be your top priority.
There are dozens of data points a creator can choose to track, and all of them will reveal important insights and trends. The challenge is deciding how often to dig into each metric. For your daily review, start with the ones outlined above.