Online Marketing Funnel

Measuring online marketing success: KPIs and user signals

There is no doubt that Google rankings, visitors, and conversions are vital online marketing metrics. But without looking at the bounce rate, dwell time, click-through rate, returning visitors, and referred traffic, it is hard to improve on them.

Today, the most important requirements a website has to fulfill are R.O.A.R.: Relevant, Original, Actual and user-friendly content, and a top Reputation. Once we have lived up to these requirements with a new website concept or a relaunch, we should begin with success measurements.


The higher the position on Google rankings or other search engine rankings, the better. Page 1 receives approx. 95% of all clicks. Hence, the ranking (depending on search term) should be within the top 10, or ideally the top 5. Outside page 1, it is almost impossible to get a reasonable number of visitors. The search results page you are listed on determines the number of impressions (appearances) you receive in the search results. Ultimately, however, it is only the visitors and conversions achieved via the rankings that count.

But the position alone is not decisive. Instead, it should be prioritized using the demand and probability of the keywords: Those keywords that have a high search volume and hence a corresponding demand are usually harder to reach than those with low demand. However, the latter are just as effective if they help potential customers make a decision. Keywords with particularly low competition are low-hanging fruit — i.e. easily achievable rankings.

How to measure Google rankings

Rankings can be measured via the Google Search Console and Google Analytics. Here is a guide for setting up and linking both services. Demand and competition can best be determined using keyword tools such as the AdWords Keyword Planner or KWFinder.


Unique visitors can be identified from among the total number of page views via cookies and their IP addresses. The number of unique visitors indicates how many different people view a website. The page views or hits do not indicate how many different people have accessed the site.

It can also be difficult to identify users with various devices and those who have emptied their cache, but the most important thing here is the trend.

Measuring the number of website visitors

Visitors can best be measured using Google Analytics. Of course, statistics tools such as etracker, Piwik, and Adobe Analytics can also be used. In order to prevent user-specific data from being skewed, employees (colleagues, agency employees, programmers etc.) should be excluded from (analytics) tracking. Another option for traffic measurement is SimilarWeb & Co.

KPI in Google Analytics
Screenshot from Google Analytics

In order to maintain an overview of the impact of certain measures or changes, all important events should be recorded in the statistics programs:

For this purpose, Google Analytics offers a feature under the graph that allows you to “Create new annotation”.

Analytics Create Annotation
Screenshot from Google Analytics

User signals

Bounce rate

The bounce rate indicates the number of users who leave a website or URL within a very short period of time. This time span varies depending on the analysis tool. Usually, it is the first 8-15 seconds. Bounce rate “The bounce rate indicates the number of users who leave a website or URL within a very short period of time. This time span varies depending on the analysis tool. Usually, it is the first 8-15 seconds.

The bounce rate should not exceed 50%, and above all depends on the loading time and how clearly laid out the website and/or URL is. The loading time can be measured using WebPagetest (best for desktop devices) and Google (best for mobile testing) and should not exceed 3 seconds. Layout clarity is subjective and should ideally be measured with the help of mouse tracking. For a benchmark comparison, can be used.

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  1. Do not raise false expectations in metadata, social media posts, and advertisements which cannot be recognized at first glance on the target page.
  2. Loading time can be reduced by compressing images, e.g. with the help of TinyPNG and Pingdom provides practical tips for optimization. Recommendation: For photos, use the JPG format, and the SVG format for diagrams. Furthermore, I also recommend a performance optimization.
  3. Avoid using generic stock photos and check your texts for typos and orthographic errors. Instead, use your own diagrams and communicate crisp, easy-to-understand messages.


Dwell time

The dwell time indicates how long a website visit lasts. The dwell time indicates how long visitors remain at a URL or the entire website (for domain or directory analysis). Dwell time “The dwell time indicates how long a website visit lasts. The dwell time indicates how long visitors remain at a URL or the entire website (for domain or directory analysis).

There is no ideal dwell time — above all, it depends on the type of information, amount of content, and the industry. A rule of thumb is that for every 300 words of content, the dwell time should be longer than 30 seconds.

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  1. Describe the topic more comprehensively in texts and add FAQs (FAQ answers on the same page under the corresponding question or at separate URLs for users to continue reading)
  2. Embed photo galleries, videos, and podcasts
  3. Incorporate a comments system and ideally use it to capture customer feedback
  4. Add contact and appointment booking forms, inquiry forms, or configurators
  5. Offer immediate consultations via telephone or live chat


Click-through rate / Pages per session

The click-through rate shows how many URLs a user views Click-through rate / Pages per session “The click-through rate shows how many URLs a user views

In the case of one-pagers (single-page websites that consist of one URL), the click rate is usually 1. For multi-page websites, however, it should be significantly above 1.5 for all URLs which do not contain forms.

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  1. Add follow-up links in content: As simple static links or via teaser/intros to additional content
  2. Add call-to-action buttons
  3. Split forms into two or more steps (e.g. Step 1: Request/Shopping cart, Step 2: Contact info)


Returning visitors

Returning visitors describes the percentage of website visitors who access the domain more than 1x. Generally, those users who access the page multiple times within a single browser session are excluded.

Figures for returning visitors are often not very precise, as users sometimes delete cookies or use another computer to access pages that they have previously visited. Hence, what counts is not the exact figures, but the overall trend.

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Offer high-quality, unique content: High-quality content can be very comprehensive or short and sweet — you will need to measure which option offers the best performance. New content (above all blog posts) should be shared via newsletters and social media.


Referral traffic / Acquisition / Traffic sources

The referred traffic describes the percentage of users who do not access the website by directly entering the domain. A distinction is usually made between search engines, social media, and other websites.

There is no specific referred traffic metric, other than the fact that the volume of referred traffic should be higher than for direct access, and that this trend should be increasing.

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SEO, advertising, content marketing, PR and influencer marketing can be used to improve valuable references and rankings, thereby also increasing the volume of referred traffic. Also helpful: Quotes from customers and influencers and partner badges in order to be linked by them.



Because there are an infinite number of online marketing metrics, I recommend prioritization according to the customer journey: A funnel like the one on the cover image which describes the states of the target group from “unaware” to conversion (e.g. the purchase) to enthusiastic customers. I have labeled this funnel with the corresponding metrics.

Online Marketing KPI Funnel

Based on this logic and with the help of Google Data Studio, I have developed an online marketing dashboard which constantly provides me with insight into the most important KPIs. You are welcome to copy and modify it. By the way, the data which I have included via Facebook does not come from the existing free Google interfaces, but from the paid tool Supermetrics (prices currently start at € 16.95). To find out how to integrate Supermetrics, click here.

Online Marketing Dashboard
Screenshot from Google Data Studio


Ultimately, all online marketing measures aim to acquire customers via the internet. Conversion refers to this process of customer acquisition. However, conversions also describe those visitors who e.g. send contact inquiries, are converted into (newsletter) subscribers, recommendation-givers, and commentators. By improving all the measures listed here, we can optimize the conversion rate.

The number of conversions divided by the visitors gives the conversion rate. The total number of conversions and the marketing costs gives the cost per acquisition (abbreviated as CPA), i.e. the amount that has to be invested per new customer. The CPA should be smaller than the profit per customer. The profit per customer is the difference between the customer lifetime value (all revenue per customer) and the costs.

Measuring the conversion rate

All forms on your website should be outfitted with conversion tracking: Contact forms, newsletters, store ordering process. Google explains here how exactly this works with Analytics. For other tools, you need to find out separately how success measurements are configured. For conversion tracking, it is also important that direct E-mail inquiries (i.e. outside of forms), social media contacts, and calls are also included in the statistics.