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When I first started paying attention to analytics, it all seemed so overwhelming. With a never-ending stream of data, it was hard to recognize and interpret the truly important metrics from those that were just nice to have.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re an industrial, commercial, or consumer vendor—you’re likely inundated with more data than you know what to do with it,” according to Quora in Forbes. “In fact, interpreting data has become such a major factor in day-to-day business operations that the field of Big Data has formed and managers are hiring Chief Data Officers (CDO)—a relatively recent phenomenon.”

For those organizations who are not ready to dive into hiring a CDO, paying attention to these three metrics builds the foundation your marketing team needs to accurately create a game plan for organizational growth.


As the building block for all other metrics, the traffic coming to your website is the most important metric of all. While it may seem obvious to experienced analytic interpreters, individuals who are just starting out may overlook the importance of traffic rates. Traffic is so important because, without understanding the increase or decrease in website traffic, your marketing team cannot accurately predict which strategies will be effective in growing your business.

“By focusing on attracting qualified traffic initially, you can then gear multiple channels to reach a larger quantity of customers - setting yourself up for a steady increase in sales for the long term,” explains HuffPost contributor Ian Mills.

Checking the daily or weekly changes in this metric tells your organization when it is appropriate, and necessary, to start pushing harder for results.

Return rate

To me, rate of audience return is a telltale sign of a successful organization. On top of knowing you provided useful information to your audience, these individuals are now returning to your organization as a reliable source. Not only does this indicate your status as a leader in your field, it is also a great stepping stone for understanding your content marketing strategies. 

FoxMetrics writes, “According to one of the sample campaigns undertaken by Harvard Business Review, the marketers who focused their efforts on retaining existing customers witnessed an astonishing ROI (Return-On-Investment) growth of more than 15 times, whereas the ROI from standard campaigns targeted at acquiring new customers stayed put at just 4 to 6 times.”

To measure return rates, associations can look towards their churn rates, multiple-conference attendees and the rate of membership renewal. Focusing on increasing your return rate by investing more time and money into retention strategies leads to organizational growth quickly and more cost effectively. 

Bounce rate

A metric I have seen in the majority of analytic reports I have come across, and one that I didn’t fully understand originally, is bounce rates. As explained by Google Analytics, “a bounce is a single-page session on your site.” A high bounce rate indicates that your audience is not exploring your site, they are merely visiting the page that caught their attention.

I, like many other organizations, had seen bounce rates as an important metric when tracking the success of their website. I assumed having a high bounce rate was a detrimental data point for my organization. One on hand, that is true. Organizations that rely on their audience exploring all of the content available on their site could be struggling when reporting high bounce rates. But the opposite could be true for organizations who provide their audiences with a blog, or single-page content. Having a high bounce rate in this instance, simply put, means your audience member found what they were looking for the first time around. Your website did its job correctly.

Keeping these three basic metrics top-of-mind when examining your organization’s analytics could help reduce the amount of time, energy and resources needed to successfully grow as a company. These metrics are the stepping stones towards becoming a successful analytic interpreter for your organization. 

Ashley Neal
Post by Ashley Neal
October 20, 2020
Ashley is a marketing and communications professional with expertise in sales conversion, copywriting, and social media.