Identifying Key Performance Indicators & Micro Conversions on B2B Websites

April 24, 2014 Steve Hennigs

Next week we’ll be joined by Steve Hennigs of Siteimprove for a #1NWebinar on the 3 essential skills and activities you need in order to successfully analyze your website. Because a session on analytics could go on for hours if we let it – don’t worry, we won’t – Steve will spend the next week breaking down some of the basics for us here on the One North blog. Follow the series for a deeper look into how you can identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Micro Conversions (MCs) for your site, how to track those interactions with events and how to incorporate campaign tracking into your website measuring process.

As with any good analytics framework, there are some key things you can do to begin making meaningful changes to your websites based on data.

To get started, there are five key things that every web team should do:

  1. Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Micro Conversions (MCs).
  2. Utilize Events in order to track KPIs and MCs.
  3. Make Campaign Tracking part of their outbound marketing process.
  4. Use Segmentation.
  5. Generate reports in which action is recommended based on the data and set goals.

Over the next week, I would like to dive into the first three topics in a bit more detail in order to provide more practical advice for making this work for you. Also, be sure to check out the Siteimprove Web Governance Blog over the next couple weeks for posts on the final two topics.

For these posts, I will use Business to Business (B2B) law firms as examples, but the concepts apply to all B2B organizations. Let’s start with the most important of all the steps: identify KPIs, MCs, and setting targets.

KPIs are metrics that help determine how your website is performing toward your organization’s business objectives. This definition, as provided by author, speaker and Google evangelist Avinash Kaushik, hits at the heart of what good web analysts strive for: Finding the little nugget of information in a sea of data to determine whether your website is performing well or dying a slow death. These metrics aren’t always easy to find because they require that you know what you’re looking for ahead of time.

In a perfect world, your Marketing Technologist, Marketing Director or even CMO could provide you with all the direction you need. But in the real world, they can only help you frame your big question. You need your leadership to answer it:

Why do we have a website, and what do we expect it to do?

The answer to this question is the starting point you need to ultimately determine what metrics in your analytics tool deserve to be singled out as KPIs. Then you can devote the majority of your attention to these numbers month after month.

You may get answers like “We have a website to showcase our branding,” or “Our website serves as a tool for prospective clients to validate our attorneys.” Though these answers both seem vague and unmeasurable, they’re enough to get you started. If you get an answer like “we need the website to be a lead generation tool,” then you really have a head start.

For most B2B firms, the validation response is very common, so let’s focus our attention there. Often a prospective client will meet an attorney at some sort of event, check out the website (and the bio of that attorney) for some further information and then either disregard the attorney and firm as an option for future business, or contact the attorney to set up a more formal meeting.

There could be other steps taken before a meeting is suggested (for example, the prospect reaching out to their business acquaintances for further information about the attorney and/or firm) but for simplicity’s sake, let’s assume those are the only steps.

In order to identify the correct KPIs, you need to review what actions on the website correlate with prospects contacting you to schedule meetings. So when leadership said the purpose of the site was “validation of the attorneys,” that ultimately means the purpose is lead generation. Many people would like to take it even further and track whether their website actually closes business, but we need to be realistic.

People hire attorneys based on a good relationship and the feeling that the attorney can help them resolve their issues in the best manner possible. A website can only do so much to facilitate that relationship, but if it helps lead to more face-to-face meetings, then the website is doing its job.

Because of this, the data within a web analytics tool can help identify KPIs, but the standard “out of the box” information generally isn’t what you need. In order to be useful, analytics programs have to be customized to your particular needs.

If you can see that people who click on a vcard are more likely to schedule a meeting, then clicks to a vcard is a KPI. To track the KPI, you need to be able to track clicks to vcards (this is called “Event Tracking,” and we’ll cover that in detail in the next installment) and then also see the identities of the people who clicked.

Most analytics tools can give you an idea of which organizations have visited your website. Once you can see all the relevant organizations who have clicked on vcards within a given time period, you can determine how many of those the firm has been able to do business with in the same time period. That gives you the correlation you are looking for. If you want to test whether this is a good KPI, then do the same exercise with other interactions on your website (clicks to pdfs, clicks to email attorneys, clicks to videos, etc.) and determine which interaction correlates with the most meetings.

This is an example of tying an action taken on your website back to an actual business objective (more meetings with prospective clients for attorneys). At the very least, it gives you some information you can take to the Managing Partner in order to help you collaborate with them to determine what other metrics could be KPIs. Once these are established, it goes a long way to help you decide what initiatives you should recommend to undertake in order to increase your website conversions (visitors who act on your KPIs).

In order to keep your reporting manageable, keep the number of KPIs low. I would suggest a maximum of 4 KPIs. In order to help you trim your list down, Avinash states that the traits of a good KPI are as follows:

  • It’s simple
  • It’s relevant
  • It’s timely
  • It’s instantly useful 

If a metric is missing even one of these criteria, it’s not a good KPI – it’s a “Micro Conversion.”

It would be great if all your visitors took action on one of your KPIs, but that’s just not the way the real world works. In fact, according to a study done by Marketing Sherpa in 2012, only an average of 10% of visitors on a professional services website will convert. So what are the other 90% of your visitors doing??

Marketing Sherpa

This is why you also need to identify Micro Conversions (MCs) on your site, actions that are valuable but not valuable enough to be KPIs. If you went through the exercise mentioned above to identify your KPIs, then there should be some metrics that didn’t make the cut. These will be your MCs going forward; knowing these numbers will help you recommend what changes to make in your digital processes to help encourage people to either take action on a KPI or convert offline (schedule a meeting).

I understand that this is a lot of information and work, but if you really want to understand the value of your website and make consistent improvement, it is work that must be done.

These are also moving targets, as there will be different initiatives throughout the year geared towards developing additional business. When those come up, you should evaluate your KPIs and MCs to ensure they’re still viable. Analyzing your website is not something you do just once – it’s an ongoing process.

This is the first step towards analytics nirvana. In the next installment, we’ll look at how Event Tracking helps make this happen. In the meantime, be sure to check out the webinar I’ll be hosting next week, 3 Necessary Activities and Skills for Effective Web Analytics.

This post originally appeared on the Siteimprove Web Governance Blog:


The One North Ideas Update delivers each month’s latest posts on digital for PSOs—including industry trends, news and our latest research—directly to your inbox. Although it’s our goal to always include thought-provoking and compelling content, you can unsubscribe at any time. 

See our Privacy Policy to learn more about how we protect and manage your submitted data.

Steve Hennigs Vice President of Customer Success - Siteimprove

Steve Hennigs aims to help firms ensure they follow SEO and web analytic best practices. For over three years, he has worked extensively within the legal community as Siteimprove’s chief representative, and in this time he has successfully launched Siteimprove’s Web Governance Suite into 20 of the Am Law 100 firms, amongst others.

An experienced practitioner, Steve is an Online Certified Marketing Professional, and a Market Motive Certified Practitioner within the disciplines of Search Engine Optimization and Web Analytics. He also carries a certification for Google Analytics.

One North Interactive 
222 North LaSalle St, #1500
Chicago, IL 60601

+1 312.469.1740