Tressa Sloane

As a marketer, you spend a lot of time analyzing metrics, and for good reason. How else are you going to gain insight into how your website and content are performing?

One measurement you most likely study frequently is time on site. If visitors are spending a lot of time on your site, you must be doing something right, don’t you think?

So ask yourself the following: What is a good average time on site?

It’s a trick question.

There is no “good” – or even “bad” – average time on site. There is only “good” or “bad” in the context of your website and your marketing goals.

For that reason, it’s time to stop treating marketing metrics, such as average time on site, as end goals, and use them as indicators of how your site is performing and how you are meeting your overall objectives.

Your site is for business, not for metrics

Many marketers get so wrapped up in the metrics that they sometimes lose sight of what the purpose of their site is: to do business. Whether it’s a B2B organization looking to convert visitors, or a B2C company looking to sell its products, the goal of a website is to make money.

Marketing buzzwordsBuzzwords killed your understanding of digital marketing like clicks, hits, impressions and, yes, average time on site are clouding your vision when it comes to analyzing your site’s performance, and they aren’t giving you the bigger picture of overall commercial gains. Improvements or increases in certain aspects don’t always equate to money coming in.

Let’s say, for example, you notice that a specific page on your site has an average time on site of five minutes, which is way ahead of your other pages. So that means your strategy is successful, because people are staying on your site, right? Not necessarily. Then you take a look at your conversion rate for that page, and you see that it is less than half a percent. Well, that’s not good. Visitors are spending a significant amount of time on that page, but they aren’t moving on to the next step. Something’s off, and you’ve got to drill down and find out what it is.

If you’re using average time on site as your end goal, then your website, your content and your marketing strategy won’t be successful. You want to see your site’s performance through the lens of what’s happening commercially, and hitting a stopping point once you see a favorable metric will hurt you.

Metrics are your friend, not your boss

Metrics play a vital role in marketing strategies, and their importance continues to increase as the industry evolves. However, measurements such as time on site should not be used to indicate success – you need to view them as indicators of performance.

For average time on site, an increase may not always mean you’ve been doing something right. You’ve got to dig deeper down and really look at what your analytics are telling you, and how these metrics make sense in the context of your marketing goals.

Do you want to improve your lead conversions? Or do you want visitors to view a video, or maybe fill out a form? Well then, consider how a better average time on site is helping you to achieve these targets. If you can see a definite path between an increasing time on site and more ROI for your company, then you’re on the right track.
Your “good” or “bad” average time on site doesn’t exist. Only when this metric is used in the context of the goal of your website, and your marketing objectives, can you get the clearest picture of how successful your strategy is.

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