Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on April 26th, 2010

Increasing the Conversation Rate: Critical Metrics for Lead Generation Sites

Last week I dove into a topic very critical for nearly every website – metrics – in a post entitled: Increasing the Conversion Rate: Critical Metrics for e-Commerce Sites. The post covered analytics you need to be paying attention to if you run an e-commerce site, as well as common metrics for all types of websites.

The analytics you should devote your time to depends on what type of website you have. Here’s a quick classification of a few analytics:

Side Note: Relative importance of site metrics based on site type. Critical goals should be measured and improved. Trend indicators can tell you if your site is headed in the right direction. Good means that it's something to keep your eyes on but it's not a primary indicator. Don't waste your time with Not Important indicators.

Beyond these, there are certain internal numbers you may want to track, especially for a lead-generation site. For example, you may keep a log of web-leads after they go to the sales department. Wouldn't it be great to know if leads from a certain keyword or web site turn into deals more often than other types of leads? Integrating your web site with a good CRM (Customer Relationship Management) suite can show you these types of things. Examples of CRM include, SugarCRM, and my personal favorite, ZohoCRM, which is free for the first few users.

Join me after the jump for critical metrics common to all sites, as well as an intensive breakdown of critical metrics for lead generation websites.

Critical Metrics Common to All Sites

Regardless of how you do it, most commercial web sites have one very specific goal—increased revenue and profits. So, your metrics should reflect that goal.

Total Revenue (total intake):

Revenue, sales, cash or turnover—it's the key driver to a web site's success. You can use Google Analytics to set up revenue goals. For lead generation and ad-driven sites, you'll probably need to continue to track through to your internal reporting infrastructure using something like a CRM or ad-tracking software. Revenue is expressed in dollars: 'We had $50,000 in revenue from our web site in June'.

Total Profit (revenue - expenses):

Revenue is top-line; profit is bottom line—what's left over at the end after you fully process each order. This calculation may vary depending on your cost of fulfillment (800#, credit card fees, telephone operator salary, and so on) but it's ultimately why businesses deploy web sites. With lead generation and ad-driven sites, it may take months to have all the data you need to make this calculation, but it's well worth the effort. Total profit is expressed in dollars: 'We had $5,200 in profit from our web site in June'.

Critical Lead Generation Metrics

Lead generation sites are focused on getting people to contact them. Examples include real estate agents, attorneys, insurance companies, and web design agencies.

Profit Per Order (total profit / orders):

This is just as important for lead generation sites in figuring out the profitability of your SEO campaign. In fact, lead-generation sites typically need a higher profit per order than e-commerce sites to turn a profit because there is a lot more that needs to happen after the lead comes in and before they get the sale. Profit per order is expressed in dollars: 'We averaged $860 in profit per order in September'.

Conversions (inquiries and leads):

This is an expression of the number of people who are moving toward doing business with you. It's not as definitive a metric for lead generation sites as it is for e-commerce because sales do not necessarily follow inquiries. However, it is a bellwether of future business. If leads are up then your pipeline is fuller and that means more sales in the coming months. It's expressed in a raw number: "We had 50 phone calls from our web site in March' or "We added 50 new leads to our pipeline from our web site in March'.

Conversion Rate (leads / visits):

Measures the value of the traffic that's coming to your site. If 1000 people visit and you get 50 leads then you have a 5% conversion rate on your web site. Continue to track those leads through your internal systems and you'll get to a real conversion rate. Say you made ten sales. That means your effective conversion rate is only 1% (10 sales / 1000 visits). Conversion rate is a percentage: 'The recent redesign increased our web site conversion rate from 4% to 5%'.

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