What are your digital KPIs? And for that matter, what are KPIs? And why are your web reports useless without them? KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator. Web analytics guru Avinash Kaushik, described KPIs as, “Measures that help you understand how you are doing against your objectives.”

KPIs are the numbers that tell you if your site is winning or losing, and empower you to make a decision, and take an action.

When I meet with business owners and ask about their analytics, many tell the same story. They have Google Analytics on their sites, but either never look at it, or get a default report that shows them their page views, unique visitors, and sessions – none of which are particularly actionable without more data and more context. Web analytics reports are too often a sea of data points, out of context and unactionable. Looking at reports without understanding your KPIs is exhausting, depressing and usually futile.


Here’s a KPI example from our business – a newspaper web site. When we look at our own numbers, we of course measure pageviews and visitors, but if I’m the director of circulation (responsible for subscriptions), a raw pageviews number doesn’t tell me if my efforts are working. After all, we might get linked to from another news source and end up with double our normal pageviews. But if most of the traffic is coming from out of our area, and bouncing after one pageview, and never even considering our subscription offers, that number is meaningless to me.

Instead, as a circulation director, I might be interested in pageviews segmented to show only those from our geographical region. Or those that had viewed more than five articles in the past 30 days (depending on where I had my registration or metered access threshold set).

So those are possible subscription website circulation director KPIs. What are yours?


I can’t know what your KPIs should be; they are unique to your business. But I can give you the heart of the method of coming up with your own.

To define your KPIs, you need to clearly understand what your site goals are. Not the broad goals, like “make money” but specific measurable goals, like increase newsletter signups, increase sales of X widget, decrease shopping cart abandonment. From there you can easily see which metrics in your web analytics match. Now take those analytics and add them to a custom dashboard (here are instructions on how to make a custom dashboard in Google Analytics).

Now when you pull up your web analytics each week (or each day!) you’ll see specific data that will empower you to make a decision and take an action to improve your business.


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