The single most important statistic to measure in online marketing is your sites conversion rate.
However, there are several assumptions inherent in that statement that I shall now attempt to unpack.
First of all it assumes that you know what a conversion actually is on your site. You need to define exactly what it is that you want the visitors to your site to actually do, and then implement a means for them to achieve it and then work on optimising it. This involves testing it with real customers, identifying what it is that is stopping them accomplishing your required call to action and then creating a process to systematically remove all barriers to them undertaking the call to action.
This means that you need to remove your ego from the equation. This is the best example of you not being the target market for your own site. Simply by definition of working on the site you are already more closely involved with the site than any visitor will ever be. Simply put you immediately care more about the site than your visitors ever will.
So, instead of just running a site and maintaining it and posting new content when people send it to you, you need to constantly look at the site through the eyes of an actual visitor. This means you need to run continuous usability tests to work out exactly what barriers exist to people doing something on your site – and then you must remove these barriers.
This implies a lot of different fields of expertise: namely usability testing and conversion rate marketing. It also implies a lot more control over a site than most webmasters usually achieve: you need to be able to control every single element of a site: the placement, colour and style of buttons and links: the overall design of each page, the size, style and colour of links and text.
For most content management systems (CMS’s) out there this is usually impossible: pages are controlled by templates and they are not editable on a page by page basis. Similarly, technical issues like forms and email replies are usually jealously guarded by your IT department.
This is why most large sites are not interested in measuring or attempting to improve their conversion rates: they do not have the skills and organisational setup necessary to make the changes required, and so they don;t even bother.
But to make a site that makes money – or acheives the specified corporate objectives – then you must address the issue of conversion rate marketing and that means you need to attain total control of your site and get the skills in-house to guide the changes.
Good luck with that by the way.