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Looking Into Time On-Site via Analytics

While this post is about an analytics method that occurred to me intuitively (nearly a year ago) the writing and posting is related to Avinash Kaushik’s post about focusing on profitability.

I have no formal training in analytics. I got started because I had built a site and I was figuring out how to market it and I learned that I could set up a Google Analytics account for free; so I did.

One of my first clients was a friend in need of help. The vast majority of their marketing budget was dedicated to AdWords, and (in the off-season) a payment to the company managing the campaign had bounced.

They asked me to look into the account. I did, only to realize it was being completely mismanaged; I quickly started working on it.

Before long, I realized that they had serious bounce rate problems, which I suspect stemmed from page load time (site/page speed) problems. What do I mean by that?

After I had fixed other issues, their AdWords campaigns averaged a 90%-ish bounce rate (with a site average of over 85% bounce rate).

One day, I decided to take all their ‘conversions’ (only AdWords) and add together their cumulative ‘time on site.’ I then took all visitors and multiplied their average time on site. I then subtracted the cumulative time on site of their conversions from the cumulative time on site of all visitors and divided by the number of non-converted visitors (conversions were miniscule—in my eyes—Avinash says that 2% is the industry average and they were probably in line with that).

What I learned was that for the vast majority of visitors (likely, the ones who weren’t absolutely certain that this service was right for them), the time it took pages to load was longer than the average time on site.

Ouch.

I advised my clients/friends of this promptly. They opted not to do anything about it (website controlled by corporate), but it was eye-opening.

I didn’t know of anyway to do this automatically (perhaps a segment or custom report would do so), so I just did it with a calculator and a sheet of scrap paper. And it gave me supremely useful information—just by using a bit of common sense and simple math.

Amazing!

Your thoughts?