You want to know how to calculate website traffic. That’s smart since your website’s value is both the traffic AND the revenue it can bring in.
Making sure your site works? Check your web traffic. Reacting to changes in your industry? Your website traffic data can help you see how you’re doing.
Measuring web traffic can help you build realistic goals and strategies that lead to increased revenue for your business.
To get started, keep reading, or jump to the section you’re looking for.
Why measure website traffic?
Measuring website traffic can help you pinpoint the performance of specific strategies and campaigns. This data can also help you see if leads are dropping off because of a drop in traffic, forecast annual trends, and notice when a page or link breaks on your site.
Your website traffic tool is like the thermometer in your house. You might think it feels cold, but that tool tells you exactly how cold it is. This helps you decide whether it’s worth turning the heater on.
So, maybe you think your website traffic is lower than it should be. Website traffic data can give you:
- Page views
- Referral sources
- Time on-page
This information can help you figure out where your website needs work and how to make it perform better.
It helps you answer both big-picture and granular questions about your marketing, sales, and growth strategies.
Before You Start Collecting Web Traffic Data
Many businesses claim to be data-driven. But 27% of surveyed small businesses don’t have a documented business strategy.
Without a clear strategy, you can’t use data to help your business grow. And if you’re not measuring current website performance, it will be difficult to set realistic goals.
Comparing your website traffic with competitive benchmarks is one place to start. But even if you know how many visitors you think your website should be getting, this data won’t help you understand where your numbers are now. It also won’t help your team work together to reach your goals.
These three steps will help you create a useful web traffic strategy. They can help you make sure that your data analysis is meaningful to your lead, sales, and revenue goals.
1. Decide what questions you want to answer with your data.
Businesses often fail because they’re asking the wrong questions. So, before you start gathering data, it’s important to think about the questions your business wants answers to.
Keep in mind that your questions may change over time. A startup with a month-old website may have questions like:
- Why is the bounce rate so high?
- What sources will bring the most qualified leads?
- Why is blog traffic rising in May, but dropping in July?
- Where is most referral traffic coming from?
But once your site has been live for five years or more, you may have different questions. These might include:
- How accurate is this data?
- Why does this page generate so many conversions?
- Why have visits gone down on some pages but not others?
- Why are visitors exiting from the home page?
- Is the website getting good ROI?
These questions mostly point to one big question:
How much traffic does your site need for you to reach your revenue goals?
Your questions should be specific to your website, business, and your unique goals. While it may be tempting to jump to the next step, spend some time thinking about questions for your site.
You might want to speak to stakeholders across your organization to see if they have ideas too. A SMART goal-setting template can also simplify your goal-setting.
2. Choose the right key performance indicators (KPIs).
Website analytics tools can give you a lot of data, and quickly. A single tool may offer over a hundred different ways of measuring your website data.
So, before you get lost in all the options, it’s best to start with the KPIs that align with your business goals.
For example, say you want to increase pricing for your top tier of products. KPIs that could help you track how this decision has an impact include:
- Page views for product pages
- Traffic by source
- Bounce rates from pricing pages
- Sessions for returning customers
It’s a good idea to focus on a handful of key metrics. Measuring and tracking too much data can create a situation where you spend more time watching your data than acting on it.
If you’re not sure which data is right for your business goals, this post goes into more detail on choosing KPIs.
3. Figure out how often you will collect and analyze your data.
Before you begin collecting data, it’s a good idea to set a time frame for data collection.
Checking data can sometimes feel like checking your social media feed. If you check too often, you may be spending more time watching your data than acting on the insights it offers. If you check it infrequently, you may misinterpret the ups and downs of your website traffic.
So, set a consistent cadence for monitoring your web traffic. This can help you make sure that you have an accurate picture of what’s working and what’s not.
If you’re in a fast-moving industry or recently launched a new website or product, daily checks may be useful. But if you can’t act on insights quickly, a weekly schedule for checking website traffic may be a better fit.
It’s also smart to set aside time to do more detailed analysis of your site traffic. Many businesses will do this monthly or quarterly. Depending on the scale of your organization, you may want to create a separate data schedule for partnerships or campaigns. This can make it easier to isolate this specific data for review.
Once you set a schedule, stick to it. Then, create clear documentation for other members of your team so they can fill in or take over when it’s needed.
For example, if you’re compiling weekly reports, choose a set date for the week to begin and end. If your reporting for each business week starts on Saturday, then shifts to Sunday a few months later, you’ll end up with unreliable data.
How to Calculate Website Traffic
- Choose an analytics tool.
- Install the software’s tracking code.
- Use the software to track website sessions.
- Calculate change over time.
- Dive deeper on your traffic sources.
1. Choose an analytics tool.
There are many great tools to analyze web traffic. These three tools are popular favorites.
Analytics Tool 1: HubSpot CMS
This tool collects website traffic information including:
- Page views
- Time on page
- Exit and entrance rates
- Bounce rates
Reporting in HubSpot connects to platform features including sales, marketing, and service software. This means that you can easily track data through the entire customer journey in one single tool.
Analytics Tool 2: Google Analytics
This popular analytics tool is a helpful tool for collecting website traffic data. It’s free to use and offers many different ways to organize and analyze website data.
This tool offers a range of detailed reports including:
- Real-time traffic reports
- Acquisition reports
- Engagement reports
- Monetization reporting
Analytics Tool 3: Mixpanel
Besides tracking web traffic, Mixpanel offers product usage and customer behavior data. This is an advanced tool that can give users real-time data across websites and apps.
Features for Mixpanel analytics include:
- Interactive reports
- Team dashboards
- Segmentation options
- Group analytics
If you’re just starting your research and want to dig deeper into your options, check out this list of top analytics tools.
2. Install the software’s tracking code.
While tracking code installation is different for each tracking tool, most use a special script to collect data. It’s simple to add this script to your site to start analyzing your traffic.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to adding the reporting tracking code with HubSpot. If you’re not a HubSpot customer, you can get started with HubSpot here.
Step 1: Click the gear icon to access Settings after you’ve logged into HubSpot.
Step 2: Navigate to Tracking & Analytics in the left-hand menu.
If you’re using Marketing Starter or HubSpot’s free tools, navigate to Tracking Code in the left sidebar menu.
For all other subscriptions, navigate to Tracking & Analytics > Tracking code in the left sidebar menu.
Step 3: Under the Tracking Code tab, in the Embed code section, click Copy.
You can also click Email to my web developer to send the tracking code to the team member who will be installing it on your site.
Step 4: Install the tracking code on your website.
To install the tracking code, paste the code before the closing </body> tag in the HTML code on each page of your site.
Step 5: After you install the tracking code, learn how to verify installation and troubleshoot the code.
You may want to check with someone else on your team before adding and troubleshooting your tracking code. While this process is simple, these steps will vary based on how your business manages your website.
3. Use the software to track website sessions.
Once you add your tracking code to your site, it may take up to 24 hours for data to appear. Once data starts populating in your dashboard, it’s time to start analyzing.
Every tool will have different reporting options, but this is a quick overview for analyzing your data with HubSpot.
Step 1: In your HubSpot account, navigate to Reports > Analytics Tools.
Step 2: Click Traffic Analytics.
Step 3: The tabs at the top let you analyze different types of data.
Step 4: Filter your data by time range or frequency.
Step 5: Review the types of data and metrics that answer your questions.
Step 6: Export the report to save your data.
4. Calculate change over time.
While most analytics tools are easy to use, data analysis can be tough. There are countless ways to parse web traffic data.
There are many ways that you can calculate change on your website. You might be a little overwhelmed by all the options, and that’s normal. If you’re new to web traffic analysis, this guide to commonly used website tracking terms can help.
The formula below is a great place to start as you begin to measure your website performance over time.
Let’s say we’re calculating traffic growth from February to March. A simple formula to calculate this change is:
(March sessions – February sessions) / February sessions
Here’s a numerical example: (1,530-1090)/1,090 = 0.4036
Percentages are easier to read at a glance than decimals, so you may want to convert this number to a percentage by multiplying your result by 100.
For example, .4036 x 100 = 40.36%
5. Dive deeper on your traffic sources.
Once you have a clear picture of growth and other key KPIs, you may have already found some issues you want to work on.
One common question for sites with low visit and session numbers is where website traffic is coming from. There are many different sources that can contribute to your website traffic.
These four sources are the most common:
Direct traffic usually comes to a web page through other pages on your website. Traffic might also show up as “Direct” when a user types your URL directly into the browser. Direct can also act as a catch-all source for many analytics tools.
This website traffic comes from search engines like Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo. These sources usually show up in your analytics reports automatically.
That said, it’s a good idea to take a look at your settings to make sure that you understand the automatic settings in your tool. For example, DuckDuckGo shows up in organic search sources on some platforms, and in direct sources on others.
Referrals are site visits that come to you from other websites through backlinks. You can learn more about backlinks in this free lesson.
These sources show you how much traffic is coming from social media. Some tools will also separate paid and organic social media sources.
As you begin using your analytics to solve problems and troubleshoot to improve your strategies, you may want to learn more. To get you started, check out this guide to website traffic sources.
Now that you’ve learned the basics of measuring your website traffic, it’s time to talk goals.
How to Calculate Traffic Goals to Increase Website Revenue
You may already be familiar with revenue marketing. It’s a strategy that many of HubSpot’s prospects, customers, and partners use.
But it’s also complex and it takes a lot of work to put into action. Marketing analytics tools make it easier to get the data to run the model. But if you’re just learning how to predict and measure ROI from inbound marketing, you may want something simple.
These are the basics:
Revenue Goals Determine Sales Goals
Sales Goals Determine Lead Goals
Lead Goals Determine Traffic Goals
Let’s talk about how to convert website traffic to revenue step-by-step.
1. Calculate the number of new customers you need in a month.
Most companies have monthly or quarterly revenue goals. If you’re a small business owner or startup and you don’t have these goals, set your goals today. If you’re in marketing and you don’t know what the plans are, sit down with your leadership team and ask, “How can I better support the monthly revenue targets?”
Once you have that number, use this goal to calculate the number of new customers you need each month. The formula is simple:
Monthly revenue goal / Average revenue per new customer = Goal for number of new customers per month
2. Calculate the number of leads you need to hit your new customer goal.
Now that you have a rough number of customers you’re looking for, it’s time to calculate how many leads you need.
To calculate this number you’ll need the average website lead to customer conversion rate for your business. Your conversion rate is the number of leads that take the action you want them to take.
If your business relies on cold calling, this could be tough to figure out. But most businesses will have an appointment to customer close ratio.
If your business doesn’t have a process for calculating your conversion rate, there are also tools that can help. This sales conversion calculator makes it easier for your team to decide conversion and drop-off rates for your sales leads.
Once you have this number, use the formula below to calculate your goal for leads.
New customer goal / Lead to customer conversion rate = Lead generation goal
3. Calculate the traffic you need to meet your lead goal.
To calculate how much traffic you need, you’ll want to figure out your website visitor to lead conversion rate. If you just started tracking your website traffic it may be difficult to calculate this number.
That said, some businesses have lead tracking set up. With lead tracking you can automatically see:
- Lead sources
- Where leads are in the sales and marketing process
- Who is working with each lead
If you’re keeping track of the number of leads you’re getting from your website per month, you should be able to combine this figure with your most recent website traffic numbers.
If you’re not able to calculate your visitor to lead conversion rate, do an online search for averages in your industry. Companies that do online lead generation right can get a visitor to lead conversion rate that’s 10% or more in some industries.
Once you have this number, use the formula below to calculate how much website traffic you will need to meet your revenue goals.
Lead generation goal / Website visitor to lead conversion rate = Website traffic goal
What Comes Next: How Do You Improve Your Website Traffic?
Calculating website traffic comes after you’ve built your website and started posting content. But this process isn’t an end, it’s a beginning. As you continue to check your site traffic, you’ll develop a better understanding of your customers and how they use your site. These insights will help you build better marketing, products, and strategies.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed once you start looking at your website data every month, but stay open. If you keep learning, your traffic, leads, sales, and revenue have nowhere to go but up.
This post was originally published in April 2010 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.