Forget all proxy measurements: does your site make money?

Far too many sites use proxy measurements of how busy a site is, instead of measuring the one, utterly vital performance indicator: does the site make money.

There’s a lot of history and reasons for this… – which is not to excuse it in any way!

And one of the key causes of this issue is managers who tell their staff to measure the number of visitors to the site, or it’s place in the Google search engine results.

My response to this has always been: “Great! – you got a million people to look at your site: that’s an impressive achievement.  Now: how many of them actually spent any money with you?”

The problem is that a million visitors are not cost-free: you will have to pay additional hosting / bandwidth charges to serve them all your pages, and if you fail to make any sales from them then it is all costs.

And if a million people come to your site and 1% of them buy then you have an amazing conversion rate: if a million people come and 1 of them buys then you have a serious problem.

One of the root causes of this is that the finance people are in a separate department to the web people, and so getting information out of the silo can be – frustratingly, unnecessarily – difficult.  I have lost track of the times when I have literally been told that this data cannot be delivered, when it is the absolute, core definition of success for any website.

Because of this many online marketers resort to data that they can access – such as the number of visitors, or the number of clicks on a call to action – and use these proxies to report to management.

In my opinion though, any website that cannot declare it’s return on investment and report on which online sales channels are making the most money is just not good enough.