Getting Started with Digital Marketing Optimization  Part 2 of 3:  5 Metrics to Track Best Sources
Getting Started with Digital Marketing Optimization  Part 2 of 3:  5 Metrics to Track Best Sources
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In part one of our three-part introduction into digital marketing optimization we covered conversions, and how to identify/track conversions that work best for your objectives. In this part two, we’re going to review what metrics you should look at to determine top website traffic sources. Identifying your top traffic sources is important because it allows you to spend advertising dollars more effectively by working to increase successful traffic, and improve, or move budget away from, poor traffic sources. But there’s a bit more than meets the eye when it comes to evaluating traffic sources. 

First, let’s understand the different types of traffic you’ll see in Google Analytics, the four main categories are:

  • Direct – visitors that type your website URL into their browser and go directly to your site.
  • Organic search – visitors are directed to your site from a search engine link (Google, Bing, etc.) that is not an ad.
  • Referral – visitors that are directed to your website from another source, like a news article, partner blog or affiliate marketing link.
  • Paid traffic – visitors that land on your site from a paid source, think Google Search Ad, Facebook Ad, a video ad and so on.

Out of the types above, direct and organic sources typically provide the highest quality visitors to your site because they’re likely lower in the conversion funnel and have the highest intent. The issue with relying too heavily on these is there will always be a ceiling on volume without paid marketing efforts to drive more awareness to your products or service. Marketing campaigns can be directed at influencing any (or all) of the four traffic types and are dependent on business type, goals, resources and other factors. This article will mostly focus on what Trellis knows best, paid marketing traffic. 

Here are five metrics you should be using to track the quality of traffic from paid media sources:

  • Clicks/Click-through rate (CTR) – These two are grouped together because they’re the quality/quantity sides of the same coin. These are found in your campaign reporting platform and while they do fall outside the scope of on-site behavior, I wanted to include them because they’re easy ways to analyze the quality of sources you’re targeting with campaigns. 

It is great to keep a continuous eye on the volume and ratio of clicks you receive on campaigns, within ad groups, by placement, etc., But it’s important to keep in mind just because a source (ad group, placement, keyword) is providing the most clicks, doesn’t mean it’s the most efficient with a high CTR. On the flip side, a high CTR shows relevance in your targeting but may be difficult to scale. Make sure you’re looking at both clicks and CTR to get a well-rounded idea of targeting placement and messaging of different aspects of your campaigns. 

While a great volume of clicks and high CTR are great goals, these may not always correlate to quality traffic bring driven to your website. That’s where we get into the following metrics to evaluate how they interact with your website.   

  • Bounce rate – Found in Google Analytics, this is essentially the ratio of people that leave your website without interacting during their session. Here are a few things to look at if you have a high bounce rate: 
    • Ad relevance – there’s a disconnect between ad content and site content, make sure ad content is highly relevant to your landing page.  
    • Call-to-action – the page you direct traffic to doesn’t have a clear call to action. 
    • Bad user experience – users are confused about the purpose of the page they’ve landed on, make sure the most important information is above-the-fold. 
    • Load time – people have high standards with website speed and load time, if your page takes too long to load, they’ll leave out of frustration. 
    • Tracking issues – make sure tracking is setup correctly to track accurate data. This is easier said than done with additional development apps and plugins that can cause hard to find issues. 

If you’re experiencing a high bounce rate and unsure why, Trellis can help you identify issues and develop a resolution plan. 

  • Average session duration – As the name implies, this is the average amount of time users spend on your website. This is a relative measure and should be used in the context of a campaign, landing page or comparison of date ranges. 

For example, if your website has an average session duration of 1 minutes 45 seconds, use this to identify outliers that may have an average duration of 5 seconds. This shouldn’t be unilaterally used to make optimization decisions but can inform analysis of traffic quality.

  • Conversions/conversion rate – Of course, conversions. The ultimate goal of a website, and running campaigns to deliver traffic to that website, is to generate conversions. Many factors, like call-to-action, page load time, user experience, and much more factor in to traffic generating a conversion, but it’s important to always keep an eye on conversion volume and rate to evaluate traffic of conversion-focused campaigns. 


Overall, website traffic cannot be evaluated by a single metric. It’s important to instead look at a complete suite of metrics like those outlined above: Clicks & CTR, bounce rate, average duration, conversions & conversion rate to get a holistic view on how users are operating on your website. Ultimately, each one pulls on the strings to the others to some extent, so optimizing for one will help across the board. If you’re been looking at data for so long that your head’s spinning, contact us at Trellis with any questions you may have.

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