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Holiday Analytics – Five KPIs to Watch This Season

Posted on 12.05.2010

The record-setting online sales during Thanksgiving week have the e-commerce industry poised for its best holiday season in years. For individual retailers, how they react to the events of Black Friday and Cyber Monday will go a long way in determining just how good it can be.

Whether your own business lived up to expectations or not, you now have some rich analytical data with which to work. To make the quickest and most effective business decisions throughout the remainder of the holidays, focus your attention on these five important areas.

Referral sources
Perhaps the most important analytical data during the holidays is that which tells you how visitors are arriving at your site. It may be encouraging to learn that your traffic was the highest it’s ever been over the Thanksgiving weekend, but determining exactly what referral sources it all came from will be far more useful in the next two weeks. Conversely, if the volume of traffic was a disappointment during the Thanksgiving rush, finding out the hottest and coldest referral sources will prove invaluable to improving your strategy while there is still time. With this data, you can target your campaigns to the very search engines, social networks and even geographical locations that will deliver the highest rewards.

Keyword referrals
Determining exactly which holiday keywords are bringing visitors to your website is as important as knowing from which search engines and social networks the traffic is originating. Just like the above, this data allows merchants to focus their energies on the campaigns that are working to get the absolute maximum performance from them, and to make some simple fixes to the campaigns that are not working to get them into the mix. This is a good metric to help you determine if your advertising, landing pages and pricing all match up with each other and how they compare to those of your competitors.

Bounce rates
The holidays are not the time to be contending with high bounce rates on any page on your website. Since time is short, take a look at the bounce rates affecting your best-selling items and search for clues as to why visitors are leaving those pages unfulfilled. There could be a misdirected ad, a mismatched keyword group, a faulty landing page or even a bad shopping cart functionality, but determine at what point and why visitors are leaving your site and try to correct the issues as soon as possible. The use of heat maps in conjunction with your bounce rate analytics is an excellent way to find and repair the most egregious leaks during the holiday home stretch.

Site search terms
It’s one thing to determine how visitors are coming to your site, but it’s completely another to find out what they are looking for once they arrive. Examine all of the terms typed into your website’s internal search since the start of the holidays, and you might get a clear indication of what shoppers are hoping to find from your business. Deeper analysis may help you uncover a pricing issue or even a gap in your inventory if those shoppers are leaving the site without converting. Not only will this help to avert the disaster of running out of your hottest product on December 21, but you can continually create new promotional campaigns around your products and their individual performances.

Returning visitors
Most analytics programs will tell you something about your visitor loyalty, giving you an indication of what percentage of visitors are returning to your site. This can be extremely valuable information during the holidays when it is more important than ever to create an environment of trust and community for your customers. You can identify these visitors and reward them with promotional incentives, as well as gain a deeper insight into the makeup of your most loyal customer base.


Web analytics can be overwhelming for online retailers, and the holidays can feel like the perfect opportunity to put them off to the side until things calm down. In reality, there is no more important time of year to take advantage of this valuable data at your disposal – if you know what to look for.


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