How many hits to a site is "Good"?

Posted Nov 2, 2011 | ~7 minute read

I've been asked this a lot recently, as people are naturally looking at their online marketing to see how effective it is. Problem is, there's not an easy answer to determine what number of hits would be considered "Good". I'm going to go some way to explain the way I would consider this problem, with the help of Tim Ng from Threesixty Services (@tim_kc_ng).

Books down, eyes on the board please

Firstly, let's make sure everyone is on the same page for a moment. When I refer to a "hit" I am actually referring to someone viewing a single page of your website. This is the same metric that most web analytics tools such as Google Analytics record.

A "visit" is different. When someone views your site, most analytics tools give that visitor a unique number. When that visitor clicks through your site, the analytics tool knows that person's number, and associates that page load (hit) with that visitor. So one "visit" can often be traced to a number of "hits" to your site.

Now we've covered that, let's move on. At each step, there's an exercise for you to do. I'll point this out, so you can analyse your site as we go.

A single visit can be better than 20,000,000,000

When you look at your web analytics (which I hope you do fairly frequently!) do any of you do something like this?

"Hmph... I've only had 400 hits this month! That's rubbish! I must increase that number because everyone knows more visits mean more business."

If so, stop. You're focusing on the wrong thing.

Rather than focusing on the number of visits, have you considered your overall conversion rate? No, not sure what I'm talking about? Okay, let's run through it together.

Let's imagine you run "Parallax Professional Advice", a city-based financial services company. Your website has had 400 visits that month, and you've recorded that 2 enquiries came through your website.

A simplistic conversion rate calculator would be : (100/400) x 2 = 0.5%

So, 400 visitors meant that they were achieving a 0.5% conversion from their website. Theory would dictate that if you doubled the visitors to the site, you would double the enquiries, right?

Hang on a moment, are you happy with a 0.5% conversion rate?

Exercise 1 : Work out your site's conversion rate for last month. Use the formula shown above to work out the percentage of visitors to your site that convert. Remember to look at visitors, not hits! If you're unsure of the number of enquiries through your site, have an educated guess at it. 

Brainwashing... I mean funneling

So you know your conversion rate, but you are not sure how to improve it. Do not fret! Let's run through some ideas to help. I'll focus on two aspects, design & content.

Do not underestimate the power of a deceptively well designed site. Especially those that push you closer to getting in touch with the company as you progress through the site.

Exercise 2 : Before we continue, consider this. What are your intended customers? What problems will they be having in order to be looking for a service like you offer? Do they know of the industry terms that are used to describe what you offer? Now, with those fresh in your mind look at your homepage. If you were a potential customer, looking on that page, where would you see that you can help them with the issue they're trying to resolve? Where can they click to learn more? If you're struggling to find answers, what do you think your visitors will do?

To illustrate the point above, let's consider Parallax Professional Advice again. They're targeting high-net-worth individuals that are looking to protect themselves against a tax that only kicks in when you have £50m+. The individuals know of this as the "50 mil tax", as this is how they've seen it referred to in the media. With that in mind, you would expect that Parallax would mention this term on their site, but they don't. If they changed their site to include that term they would reassure the visitor that they are the right company to talk to about this tax.

The hardest part of creating the content for a website is removing the knowledge and lessons that you've learnt from being a professional.  Consider the following :

It's all to easy to use the terms you're used to as a professional, but more-often or not, they're not the terms your clients use. Instead of adding to the confusion, why not provide the solution?

By thinking from the clients' point of view, you're making it easier for them to see that you offer what they're searching for, and are therefore more likely to get in convert.

Exercise 3 : Remove the mumbo-jumbo from your site. Instead of referring to terms you use in the industry use words that your clients might use themselves. Instead of talking about a mortgage review, talk about the potential money saved from being on a better mortgage. Instead of talking about protection, talk about the peace of mind it gives if something goes wrong. Think like your client thinks. Measure the time spent on site before, and after your changes. Does it increase? Do your conversions increase? 

Now that you have seen the process that you can use to review content and design you need to focus next on your potential client and what would be the key driver to get them to convert from a visitor to a client? In the world of marketing it would be a "call to action" you defined the problem them now get them to do something about it - usual phrases "call us" or "click here to find out more" may seem trite but the calls to action along with the visuals are commonly seen to be the triggers to aid conversions.

But back to the question at hand "How many hits to a site is 'Good'?" well that depends... bet you thought there would be a nice factual number such as 1000 a day? Unfortunately there is no such number, what is good for one may not be good for another. Take Parallax Professional Advice (again!), they are a local firm situated in a city, with only two advisers - their expectations for their website would differ greatly compared to a national firm with multiple offices and multiple locations.

The key points to determine whether your site is successful requires you to consider numerous criteria: -

  • Who your clients are (demographic), are they young, old, technically savvy?
  • What are you offering? Products, services or content?
  • What is the main purpose of  the site? sales channel or just to have presence?
  • Is the website a prime channel or just a secondary channel for communication? will it stay static or will it be updated frequently? essentially how much effort will be put into maintaining it?
  • What industry you are in? should you expect numerous visitors or is it traditionally face to face, person to person?

All the above should effect how you measure the success of your site. For Parallax Professional Advice they may consider the following measures successful:

  • 500 hits per month
  • 200 visitors per month
  • 1% conversion per quarter

But the national adviser firm would expect more along the lines of:

  • 2000 hits per month
  • 250 visitors per month
  • 1% conversion per quarter

So to finally answer the question, to determine what makes your site successful does not depend on just the hits but a set a metrics specific to your site (of course you can benchmark against similar but that can provide inappropriate results).