You’ve just completed your website redesign (using the best practices outlined in our Website Redesign Guide, of course), and you’re ready for the results to start rolling in. Since the redesign was not only a big undertaking but a healthy investment, you assume you’ll start to see conversion rates rise and revenue growth very soon. Well, as satisfying as that would be, the redesign itself is only one part of a much bigger equation. Your new website may be launched and loaded, but now you have to measure how effective the changes are. Are you meeting the goals you set? Are you reaching your objectives? Are visitors finding your new website engaging—and even more importantly, are they finding your new website, period?
It’s time to assess which parts of your website redesign are a success, and which parts need tweaking. Measuring the success of your website depends wholeheartedly on user reaction, so if users are finding your site, you’ll have lots of data to put to work.
First things first, shake the “set it and forget it” mentality. The best website redesigns are built to evolve based on their performance. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is an important practice that allows you to gain insight and adjust your website accordingly to improve visitor to lead conversions, qualified lead acquisition, and company revenue. If you’re not sure exactly what CRO is, get familiarized by checking out our post, What is CRO: A Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization.
By using analytics and a data-driven approach, you can determine which parts of your website are engaging visitors, and which parts are confusing, unappealing or just plain useless. Analytics work for you constantly by collecting data from your visitors and providing you insight into who they are, where they are, what they like and don’t like and what they’re doing when they land on your website.
Everything from high-level analytics (such as time on site, bounce rate, and traffic numbers), to more aggregate visitor analysis (as you’d find by reviewing heat maps and click maps) to more granular visitor analysis (visitor recordings are a great way to see how individuals interact with your site), is valuable data that will guide your CRO efforts. In this post, we’ll outline which metrics you should track to assess the performance of your website redesign and the tools available to get the metrics you need.
Google Analytics has been around since 2005, so if you still don’t have an account attached to your website, you’re a little late to the game. Without historical data, you won’t be able to pull benchmarks to see where your engagement level is (we’ll get to this later), but don’t let that discourage you too much. It’s never too late to start putting your analytics to work, so get Google Analytics immediately and start stockpiling that data.
Google Analytics will grab tons of metrics, but there are a few to keep on your radar when you measure the impact your website redesign has had on your traffic:
Organic search traffic
Organic search traffic is a number most websites are focused on growing. Organic search traffic reflects visitors who are finding your website from search engine results. If your website is fully optimized, you’ll rank higher on search engines, and in turn, get more traffic that way. By measuring your organic search traffic, you can evaluate if your website is drawing in fresh potential leads with relevant content, or if you need to try some new SEO tactics. Our Inbound Marketing Website Redesign Guide includes proven site-wide SEO tips that will help you optimize your content.
First page (landing page)
When visitors find you through a search engine, where are they landing? It may not be your homepage. You can use Google Analytics’ Landing Pages Report to see which pages people are finding via search engines or other external sources like blogs. Once you know which pages are most successful at drawing in organic traffic, you can strategically place important information on these pages (like information about your organization, or links to new offers). You’ll also have insight into what kind of content is grabbing people’s attention.
Your bounce rate is a testament to visitor engagement. Are visitors coming to your page and clicking around, or are they leaving as soon as they arrive? Monitoring your bounce rate will give you insight into whether your website redesign is optimized for your target audience and is pushing them through the conversion process—or if the wrong people are finding your site and clicking away (or even worse, the right people are finding it but are turned off).
Time on site
Checking the amount of time visitors are spending on your website is another way to monitor engagement. How long are visitors willing to spend on your content? The time visitors are spending on each page can give you insight into the relevance and quality of your content, and even the design of your page. For example, you may notice people are spending time on your website then clicking away immediately when they reach a blog post. If it’s a pattern, you may need to rethink your content, or even the design of the blog section of your website. That’s why we do CRO testing.
These metrics all make an impact when assessing your website redesign, but that doesn’t mean they’re made equal. People get wrapped up in the numbers they see, but it’s important to consider the context of the metric. Bounce rate is a good example of a metric that may show a higher number than you’d like but isn’t necessarily an immediate cause for concern. For example, bounce rate determines how many users are only visiting one page on your website, but that doesn’t mean each of those users got nothing out of your content. Perhaps a visitor was looking for a blog post about “where to get great free stock images,” and you provided them with a comprehensive list. They got what they wanted from your content and are now aware of your brand and thought leader status. This interaction isn’t a failure. Be conscious of the fact that even though the numbers are concrete, their meaning isn’t.
Getting set up
Whether you’re starting with Google Analytics from scratch, or you have an account but haven’t used it to its full potential, make sure of one thing: you’ve set it up properly. If you have Google Analytics, why not get the most out of it? So many people have analytics accounts but don’t know how to dig in and leverage their data. As you delve deeper into Google Analytics, you can create custom reports and tailor your dashboard to better suit your objectives. For now, concentrate on efficiency and think about key reports and features that will help you figure out where your conversion rates are and how to use your website redesign to fuel growth.
If you’re already collecting data from Google Analytics (even if you’re not using it), take a minute to pull a benchmark report. After you’ve given your redesigned website some time to collect data, you can compare it with historical data (found in your benchmark reports). This comparison will show you what’s improved, and more importantly if anything’s tanking. Using past data will give you a solid surface-level view of how your redesign has affected your visitors and their engagement level with your site.
Google Analytics allows you to filter profiles to define your audience and get more accurate metrics. With filters, you can include (or exclude) specific types of traffic to strain out unwanted data. The filters feature is vast and can be intimidating, but there are a few basic filters you need to set up to save time and get more precise data when measuring the success of your website redesign. Lunametrics has a whole post on basic filters for every site, so check that out for more in-depth details on the setup process.
The most important thing to do before applying any filters is making sure you’ve saved your raw data. You can undo filters once you apply them. Have a view called “Unfiltered View” or “Raw Data” that has no filters applied. Then if anything happens to your data, like you made a mistake while setting a filter or you decide you need to change up the view, you’ll have your untouched data available.
Now, which filters to use? You’ll probably want to start out by excluding internal traffic from your numbers. You and your team don’t interact with your company website the same way an outside visitor would, so your clicks can really skew your analytics. Filter out company accounts by setting the Exclude Internal IP filter.
Spam also has the potential to distort your numbers, a lot. You’ll want to set a filter that will help you weed out what we call “ghost referrals”. These are referrals/clicks that sneak into your data through fake visits. By creating a filter that includes specific hostnames, you can start counting visits that only come through hostnames, or domains, that belong to you.
In addition, you should consider filters that help keep data consistent. Think of something as simple as people coming to your website through www.Google.com or www.google.com. Both visitors are looking for the same page, but because of that lowercase G in the second search they’ll be segmented. You can filter these out by creating a lowercase hostname filter.
Setting filters up will make your numbers as authentic as possible. Take into account that there may be other filters that pertain to your overall goals, and check out that Lunametrics guide to get more acquainted with specific filters and their functions.
Speaking of goals, they aren’t just for your bullet journal. Google Analytics may be collecting copious amounts of data about your visitors, but only you can define what actions are driving conversion for your site. Setting up goals in Google Analytics will allow you to start collecting data about visitors who are successfully reaching the end of a conversion path, and also opens a whole set of reports that focus on visitor to lead conversion. Marketers also use goals when creating experiments for A/B testing, which will be an important part of your CRO strategy (if you don’t know what A/B testing is, check out our blog post on innovative and iterative A/B testing).
ConversionXL has a post that will walk you through setting up goals in Google Analytics. Take care of setting up goals right away when you’re ready to evaluate your website redesign to get more insight on the conversion process.
Once your analytics are set up, and you’re collecting data, you can start to understand that data on a deeper level with visitor analysis. Visitor analysis shows you what people are clicking on, watching, scrolling through and highlighting when they visit your site. It’s also an indication of the path a visitor takes when navigating your website. There are several tools you should use to analyze your visitor’s behavior, but here’s a few you can start with:
Event tracking in Google Analytics
Adding tracking to events on your website will allow you to monitor if CTAs, interactive content, forms and other new components you’ve added during the redesign are engaging visitors. This tactic can help you determine how to adjust a page to optimize it, instead of scrapping the whole page and starting from scratch. Setting up tracking for new elements on your site will guide your testing efforts and help you identify what’s grabbing attention and what’s flopping.
Even More Tools
With marketers and their teams seeking ways to prove their value and marketing efforts, more software companies are releasing visitor analysis tools. Google Analytics is necessary for every website redesign, but there’s additional software you should get a hold. A few tried and true favorites are VWO, HotJar and CrazyEgg.
VWO is a comprehensive CRO software platform, offering tools for researching, testing, analyzing reports, visitor recording and more. Creating heatmaps is just one feature VWO offers, so this well-rounded tool is a great option when evaluating your website redesign (we’ll get to what heatmaps can help you with later, so read on if you’re not sure how to use them). If you want to start out your visual visitor analysis with heatmaps, get HotJar. It’s a visitor analysis software that collects data from heat and click maps, form analysis, conversion funnels as well as visitor recordings. Hotjar also offers a free trial, so if you’re new to visitor analysis, you can get the hang of it before choosing which tool to use. CrazyEgg is another popular tool that allows you to visualize where your visitors are clicking and scrolling with heatmaps. Crazy Egg will also provide insight into where these visitors are coming from, and where the visitors from each source are clicking and engaging with you the most.
This is an example of HotJar, which uses heatmaps to see where people are clicking.
Heatmaps are tools used to indicate which points on a page are receiving the most activity. Heatmaps show you a page on your website with colors superimposed, and these colors tell you which parts of your page are hot (getting lots of engagement) and which are cold (being ignored and going untouched). There are several types of heatmaps. Click and tap heatmaps show you where visitors are clicking, while movement heatmaps show you where visitors are moving their mouse on the screen. Then there are scroll heatmaps, which are particularly useful when you’ve placed a call-to-action underneath text on the page. They’ll tell you if the information you’re providing before the offer is valuable enough to scroll to read, or if your offer is getting left in the dust because no one wants to read through the information first. Heatmaps are a really great visual tool that will guide your CRO efforts and help you set up tests.
Visitor recordings are the most accurate representation of how visitors interact with your site. The reason for that? Because you are literally looking at how individual users interact with your site! Visitor recordings provide you with video evidence of the exact journey a visitor takes when on your website. Analyzing visitor recordings will make it very clear if your website is intuitive and straightforward. When visitors are clicking all over a page, moving around and eventually leaving the page without converting, you’ll know you need a different approach.
Leads, Conversions & Revenue
Monitoring traffic and visitor behavior is necessary to gain insight into the user experience, but we know what’s really on your mind. At the end of the day, you’re trying to get your product or service out there and in the hands of customers. Every business and organization have one common goal—to boost revenue.
Inbound marketing analytics let you value your visitors to identify if your website is an effective path to revenue. Knowing how many leads your website is producing, how many of those leads are marketing qualified and how many of those are becoming customers is the final piece when evaluating your website redesign.
Visitor to lead (V2L) conversion rate
According to your traffic numbers, you’re getting plenty of visitors to your website. They’re spending lots of time clicking around and engaging in your content, so that’s good, right? There is value in visitors engaging in your website, but you need to know how many visitors are becoming leads through accessing offers, filling out forms and providing you with contact information. The whole point of your website is to attract visitors and turn them into leads as quickly as possible, so tracking visitor to lead conversion will tell you if your offers are enticing enough.
Marketing qualified leads
In a perfect world, your website redesign would be bringing in tons of marketing qualified leads (also known as MQLs), that would eventually turn into customers. In the real world, you’re trying to measure how effective the redesign is, so you’ll need to monitor your MQLs and if they’re growing, staying the same, or decreasing. MQLs are your leads that are most likely to become customers (based on lead intelligence). These leads may have downloaded an eBook you’re offering or filled out a form to access a webinar. Monitoring MQLs not only tells you who to follow up with, it tells you about their journey to becoming an MQL and how you can guide other visitors down the same path.
At the end of the day, you redesigned your website to boost business and generate more revenue, and there’s no harm in admitting that. There’s plenty of ways to measure your website redesign, but if it’s not bringing in new customers and growing sales, was it really effective at all?
To determine if your refreshed site is bringing in new prospects, you need a 360-degree view of your visitors turned customers. All sales growth can be tied back to marketing efforts, and vice versa. That’s called closed-loop marketing. HubSpot has a more in-depth post about closed-loop marketing and how it works, but in short, closed-loop marketing is marketing that relies on data and insights from closed-loop reports. Closed-loop reporting is the process of sales teams relaying information about leads back to the marketing team, which helps the marketing team better understand where their best and worst leads are coming from. By performing closed-loop reporting, you’ll be able to see to which marketing activity you owe credit, including your website.
To implement closed-loop marketing, you can use marketing software like HubSpot, which keeps a record of all marketing activities a lead participates in right up until acquisition. This is incredibly useful as it can tell you where the customer spent time on your website and what page (or events) helped move them down the conversion funnel.
As always, you can keep an eye on your revenue through sales and revenue dashboard as provided from software like Salesforce, Klipfolio and HubSpot’s revenue reports. In a tool like HubSpot’s revenue reports, you can monitor your revenue history by month, which sources are generating the most revenue and revenue by first conversion. These key performance metrics (or KPIs) will help you trace successful conversions back to your website, proving its effectiveness. If you see a lack of return on your website redesign, you can get to work on CRO tests that will help you further optimize.
Take your foundational data, and use it to evolve
Having a fully optimized website that’s up-to-date with design trends and follows SEO best practices is important to attract visitors, turn them into marketing qualified leads, and eventually customers. Now that you have the knowledge of how to thoroughly measure the effectiveness of your website redesign, you can carry that knowledge with you when planning future website redesigns. Research shows that most companies redesign their website every three years, so next time you’re due for a website redesign, don’t move forward without foundational data guiding your efforts. Using data to define, support and create your future website redesign will without a doubt save you time, money and many headaches.
As you transition into the evaluation stage of your website redesign, it’s crucial to assess your conversion rates and identify early on how to improve them. Evaluating the situation is important, but don’t start making any serious changes just yet. Give your redesigned website some time to collect sufficient data before making any significant adjustments. Similar to not going forward with another redesign without foundational data, don’t make any changes to your website without foundational data. How much data do you need before performing CRO tests? It all depends on traffic. If your website has high monthly traffic (e.g. 10k+ visits per month), you can start analyzing sooner as it will take you less time to reach statistical significance. Organizations with less traffic (e.g. 1k visits per month) may need a few months to gain significant data.
When analyzing data and strategizing your CRO efforts, always think one step ahead and plan for inevitable site evolution. For example, buyer habits are constantly changing, so your buyer personas will constantly be evolving. Never get too comfortable with the state of your strategy, and let yourself develop with changing trends. Stay aware of what’s evolving in the marketing world, consider how your data reflects that and how to take advantage of these advancements.
Evaluating your website redesign is an ongoing task that will ensure you get the most out of your investment. With the tips we’ve provided here, you should be ready to start collecting data and assessing the success of your project. To familiarize yourself with CRO best practices or get more guidance on how to execute your evaluation strategy, download The Inbound Marketer’s Quick Start Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization.