Fact Checking for Website Metrics that Actually Matter

website metrics that matter

Election Day is right around the corner, and the rhetoric is intensifying. People love data, so it’s only natural that politicians use it to sway public opinion. The data points they provide — that are so easy to remember and regurgitate on a heated social media thread — don’t really tell the whole story. Sometimes they’re downright lies. Discerning voters will dig into the numbers and realize that the data has been tweaked and twisted to support a specific agenda.

Unfortunately, this is also common outside the political arena. From cell phones to education, companies spend a considerable amount of time cherry-picking the most favorable stats to increase their market share. The multifamily industry is no exception.

Our job as marketers is to dive deep and fact check data to identify what KPIs actually matter when we’re talking about driving results. We’ve listed some key multifamily metrics below so that you can decide for yourself what’s really relevant to proving ROI on your marketing investments.

Visits vs. unique visitors

The difference between these two metrics is as subtle as the difference in the names. Visits measure the number of times a site is visited regardless of the number of people who visit the site. Unique visitors measure the number of individual people who visit the site. For example, if Hillary is your only visitor but she visits the site 500 times, your data will show 500 visits but only one unique visitor.

The problem with counting total visits is it doesn’t give you an accurate view of your total audience. Think of it this way: Donald and Mike together visit your site 300 times. Add that to Hillary’s 500 visits, and your data will show that you have 800 website visits. But how many individual people are actually interested in your Washington, D.C., apartments? The answer lies in unique visitors, which shows that only three distinct people visited your site. There’s a big difference between three and 800.

Leads vs. visits or unique visitors

Visits and unique visitors are relevant when analyzing inbound traffic to your website. If you’re running expensive television campaigns or launching a new community website, these metrics can help you uncover the effectiveness of your efforts to drive traffic to a specific location online.

But you should never rest your laurels on visits or unique visitors. As your website matures, turn your focus to metrics tied to revenue. In our industry, that metric is leads. Just because you’re getting a lot of visits, doesn’t mean you’re getting a lot of leads. In fact, many sites garner a high volume of visits and unique visitors that never actually submit a lead.

Multifamily websites can substantially increase visits and unique visitors with expensive ad campaigns, but the majority of that traffic will be unqualified. Most everyone is interested in smartphone technology; not everyone is in the market to lease an apartment.

Let’s consider Super Bowl ads, which reach a large percentage of the population. Of those watching, more than 60 percent are homeowners, a quarter of the renters watching are stuck in a lease, another 20 percent are looking to buy a house and 5 percent are grabbing a snack during the commercial break. Suddenly, your audience has dwindled to a very small percentage of viewers who are actually interested in leasing an apartment. The vast majority of viewers don’t need an apartment, but they might check out the advertised site simply because the ad was funny, cool or intriguing. The result is inflated metrics from meaningless visits and unique visitors. Rather than relying on visits and unique visitors, ask your marketing partners how much lead growth they had as a result of their campaigns.

As you cull through the endless data streams from your community websites and marketing partners, keep these tips in mind. Data is easily manipulated but ultimately inconsequential if your marketing partners aren’t helping you reach your goals. Dig into the data to discover the metrics that matter to you. Then vote for a marketing partner that delivers.