Getting The Most Out Of Your Monthly Reports

Posted by on Dec 29, 2014

Getting The Most Out Of Your Monthly Reports


Measuring success or failure, is an important part  of any website, marketing channel, or campaign. Without knowing how people are getting there, how long they stay, what they interact with, and when they leave, you could be missing out on valuable opportunities – or paying too much for campaigns that aren’t working! With this blog, we wanted to explain some of the KPI’s , or Key Points of Interest, that we track for our clients. These points are indicative of the overall health and efficacy of a website and marketing campaign. We’ll first start with a look at some of the common terms and their definitions, then move on to explaining how these pieces fit together and talk about some of the insights that can be gleaned from this data.


Metrics vs Dimensions colored


Most website data breaks down into two categories –  metrics or dimensions. There are a few differences between metrics and dimensions. One is that metrics are used for quantitative measurements, where dimensions are used to describe the characteristics of a user or sessions. Metrics include points like total users, average session data(total sessions, pages views, average session duration, etc), and other numeric values. Dimensions are more focused on a user’s actions and what exactly they do during their session. Dimensions can also allow for deeper insight of your visitors through market segmentation and comparison of different areas on your site and marketing channels. Metrics, however, cannot be separated out as easily because in doing so it presents a fractured picture of the full data. When looking to see how a user interacts with a site, you should focus more on dimensional KPI’s, but when measuring the success of a marketing channel it is better to use a combination of metrics and dimensions. Dimensions are also always paired with metrics, like in the image below. When judging the overall traffic health of a site, metrics generally hold more weight.


dimensions vs metrics
reports generally look like this


Before we take a look at some KPI’s,  we’re going to start where the magic happens online – A SERP; it stands for a Search Engine Results Page. Basically, when we or anyone else refers to a SERP, they’re talking about the results page of a Google Search.  Below is a snippet of the SERP for “Digital Marketing RVA”. This is, by far, one of the most heavily used terms in the SEO/SEM industry.

DM RVA serp



The Key Terms:



Impressions: This metric shows up in different situations. It’s commonly seen in paid advertising reports, as well as in standard SEO traffic reports. The purpose is to demonstrate how many times your website’s URL within search results was simply viewed by users, without necessarily clicking. For AdWords and other paid channels, impression refers to the number of times your ad was displayed.

Sessions: This is one of the most important metrics used in analytics. A session is a visit from a single user, from start to end.. So, if a user visits your site, reads a bit, then leaves and comes back later to view something else on the site then this would be two different sessions. If instead of leaving, the user were to stay on the site and complete the exact same actions then this would be represented as just one session.

Pages Viewed Per Session: This is another metric that should be viewed in combination with the Average Session Duration and Bounce Rate stats. We suggest this because, in combination, these 3 metrics will provide a fairly comprehensive view of what users do when they land on your site. Between these 2, we can see how long a user stays on site, and how many pages they view on average per session. This is an effective combination, because it can show if users are actively engaged in what your website has to offer. A long Average Session Duration with a large number of Pages Viewed Per Session means that users are scouring your website to find what they’re looking for. It can be very useful to find where users drop off, or leave the website. This can indicate either that people are finding what they’re looking for, or that they’re getting lost on your site and decide to navigate away.

Total Pages Viewed: This metric represents the total number of pages that have been viewed on your website. This is separate from Sessions, because users may view multiple pages within one session. When a website is engaging to it’s users, the number of total pages viewed generally far exceeds the number of total users for the same period of time.

Average Session Duration: This metric simply refers to the average time your users spend on your website. Generally, higher session duration means that users are interested and interacting with your website. This metric is usually viewed in tandem with the next two definitions.

Bounce Rate: One of the fastest indicators of a websites overall efficacy is the bounce rate of a website. It measures the percentage of visitors to a site who navigate away after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate can mean a few different things, but generally it means that users are effectively finding your site, but not finding what they’re looking for. This could be for a number of different reasons. Your site could be difficult to navigate, there could be no clear action to take, or a user might bookmark a page and only view that one page when they visit.  A lot of factors that contribute to a high bounce rate are also site specific. If your website is a single page design then a high bounce rate isn’t necessarily indicative of anything, as users are coming to your single page and then leaving (because there isn’t another page to view).  In this instance, you would look at the Average Session Duration in combination with event tracking, which we’ll get to further in this article.

Conversion Rate: Conversion Rate is defined as the percentage of users who fulfill a desired goal for a website. Every website has different goals and depending on the type of website, those goals may vary. Generally, there are five different types of websites, each of them with different measurable outcomes. For ecommerce sites, the outcome is how many products or services are sold, whereas Lead Generation websites exist to gather contact information for potential clients or customers. Content publishing websites generally aim to keep users on the site for as long as possible to increase ad exposure and sites dedicated to support or customer service serve to quickly help customers find the information they’re looking for. Finally, Brand websites are designed to drive awareness and encourage engagement with users. All of these major outcomes that can help are known as Macro Conversions. Micro Conversions are smaller goals that usher users into becoming Macro Conversions.




Average Position: This dimension is tricky to accurately measure. The problem is that Google Analytics, our analytics program of choice, averages all URLs that a website has that rank in Google’s SERP. For websites with large amounts of pages, this average can be misleading. At Digital Greenlight we don’t rely on this dimension for accurate testing, but instead use it to track general progress from month to month.

Organic Search: This dimension reflects that a source of traffic is reaching your website through one of many search engines. This could mean Google, Yahoo!, Bing, DuckDuckGo, or any other engine. Typically, when you see a large amount of traffic coming in from this channel, it’s likely that some SEO work has been done on the website, otherwise there would be a small amount of inbound traffic from organic search.

Direct: This refers to users who directly enter your website address into their browser. They’re not getting to your site via any other path – they’re going straight to your website with no stops in between. Having a high level of direct traffic could reflect that offline marketing efforts are effective, such as sticker campaigns, radio advertising, commercials, etc.

Referral: This reporting dimension essentially measures how much traffic is coming to your website from a web page that isn’t a search engine. Generally a user is on a related websites, clicks a link, and ends up on your website. The original site is then deemed the “referral source”.  Knowing where your users are coming in from, other than search engines, can be a big benefit. Not only can you see which links on other websites are being productive, but in some instances it can demonstrate a potentially new source of inbound traffic.

How soon they return: This dimension is a good indicator to pair with Bounce Rate. If users are returning to your website quickly, and frequently, despite having a high Bounce Rate, then you are probably providing useful information that users are referencing frequently. On the other hand, if your Bounce Rate is high and users are not returning quickly (or at all), then there could be a problem and users are not receiving the information they’re looking for.

Micro Conversions:  Micro conversions generally an indication the users have yet to reach a full decision, but are well on their way. This is shown through signing up for email newsletters, downloading files from your site, or creating an account (if necessary for your site). Micro Conversion goals can also be set up to measure if users view a certain amount of pages in a session.

Macro Conversions: Macro Conversions tend to be big picture goals, and are usually dependent on the end goal of the website. As mentioned, for ecommerce sites, the end goal would be to measure how many purchases are made, etc. For Lead Generation sites, Macro Conversions take the form of application submissions or member sign ups. For Content Publishing and Brand websites, Macro Conversions can be viewed as users signing up for your newsletter, or even social shares. The important difference between Micro and Macro Conversions is Micro Conversions are the first step users make on the path to Macro Conversions, or the final outcome for a website.

Event Tracking: To track Micro or Macro Conversions, event tracking must be integrated. Virtually every interaction on a website can be tracked – every download, every sign up, every social share, or even every time a phone call is made from the website. For this type of tracking to be implemented effectively, it is important to decide what kind of goals your website has. Without knowing this, while everything can be tracked, it may be difficult to actually gain insight from the metrics. However, knowing which Micro and Macro actions need to be tracked can reveal a tremendous amount of insight, because if one number is significantly higher than another then there may be a good reason why users are dropping off and failing to become Macro Conversions.


Paid Advertising


CTR: CTR, or Click Through Rate, refers to the percentage of people who click on something after seeing it. It’s calculated by taking the total amount of clicks and dividing by the total impressions * 100.  This is a good indicator to see how effective your ad is on Adwords, Facebook, or any other paid advertising source online. With a high CTR, it means that you’re capturing a lot of the available audience that your ad has been shown to. What defines a good CTR is entirely dependent on the industry. For some industries, 0.5% isn’t bad, where others may enjoy a rate as high as 5%.

CPC: Simply put, this is the Cost Per Click. Every different keyword within Google AdWords and similar services have different costs. For example, the keyword “mortgage” has a cost of around $22 per click. In comparison, the keyword “30 year mortgage rates” has a cost of ~$9 per click.  In our [last blog post] we explored the concept of longtail keywords and short tail keywords. In general, short tail keywords usually have a much higher Cost Per Click, as they’re more in demand. On the other hand, longtail keywords are usually less expensive and generally phrases that bring in more focused traffic. It is good to run ads made predominantly of longtail keywords if you need to lower your CPC but still remain effective.

Clicks: This metric indicates how many clicks a campaign actually received. This occurs when someone physically clicks an ad that you’ve listed. This metric can be useful in determining if particular ads within a campaign are outperforming other ads. This is generally used in tandem with both the CTR and the CPC in a campaign.

Average CPM: CPM, commonly known as Cost Per Thousand or Cost Per Thousand Impressions (in Latin mille means thousand), indicates how much was paid, in a particular channel, to have an ad shown to a thousand individuals. This can vary from platform to platform, and even by campaign – depending on the goals of that campaign. This is a good indicator of the expense of any campaign. It should be noted that when choosing effective marketing channels, it is important to look at more than just the CPM. A low cost isn’t always associated with high quality traffic, so it is important to know the demographics associated with every marketing channel your brand gets involved with.



There are many dimensions and metrics at play in Digital Analytics. One, or two, individuals metrics/dimensions may not provide a full picture of how users are finding or interacting with your website, so it’s important to take in as much information as possible. With this blog post we hope to have provided a useful perspective on some of the more common terms and their applications within that you can apply to your own analytics reports.

As always, if you have any questions then please! Contact Us! We love talking about websites, and would be happy to help break down concepts into ways you can understand.


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