Performance tracking is an aspect of web analysis. Data on user behaviour and website performance are collected and evaluated and analysed with regard to previously defined performance criteria or KPIs. Objectives of performance tracking can be an increase of conversions or an improved OnPage optimization for search engines and users. At the same time, performance tracking is also used in affiliate marketing for performance measurement and calculation.
When webmasters in the early years of the commercial Internet of the 1990s began to evaluate log files on their websites, web analysis was still in its infancy. By looking at these access figures, it has been possible and still is possible to determine with which browser and from which source a user accesses a website, but this basic data is no longer sufficient for a modern, marketing-oriented analysis.
With the advent of powerful, free analysis tools such as Google Analytics and Piwik or paid-for programs such as Trekken, the possibilities for comprehensive web analytics for webmasters are greatly expanded. The tools provide extensive data on the origin of visitors as well as on the performance of individual sub-pages or categories of a website. This creates the basis for performance tracking.
For a long time, access to relevant keywords as tangible performance criteria, especially in the SEO area, has seen a fundamental change in the view of marketing experts in the 2010s. Today, a more comprehensive set of analyses is chosen to assess the performance of a website. In many cases, the length of time spent on the website or interaction rates count more than the optimization of a specific keyword or keyword combination. This is mainly due to the Google updates Panda and Penguin, which focus on the quality of a website. At the same time, it is obvious that the "User Engagement" has become an important ranking factor, which puts the fight for keywords into the background.
More than ever, performance tracking is in demand for all aspects of search engine optimization.
Performance tracking is also important in affiliate marketing. This is the only way that purchases or leads can actually be assigned to individual publishers. At the same time, publishers can increase the success of advertising materials themselves if they evaluate their performance in a targeted manner. Performance criteria are easier to define here than in search engine optimization. Ultimately, interactions that lead to leads as well as conversions and ultimately to revenues are the most important factors here.
In the advertising industry, there are many players in the area of performance marketing. In this case, the agency is not charged according to fixed hourly or daily rates, but is remunerated solely on the basis of a previously defined service. Typically, this type of billing is usually used in affiliate marketing. Performance tracking, which is usually based on KPIs such as sales or leads, also forms the basis for a correct allocation of performance data.
Performance tracking is usually carried out as part of the web analysis. The usual tracking methods are used here.
The respective parameters indicate both the source of the link (source), the medium (medium) and the campaign (campaign). This data can then be evaluated directly via Google Analytics or other programs. This method is suitable for the analysis of individual campaigns such as newsletters or temporary marketing campaigns whose performance is to be evaluated in a targeted manner.
Cookies: These small pieces of code allow us to analyze user behavior over a specified period of time. In addition, cookies can also be used for retargeting campaigns. User ID: This method marks users so that cross device tracking is also possible. Performance tracking measures the performance of a website in relation to certain user groups and their devices. The performance of apps can also be determined and analyzed with regard to previously defined users using the user ID.
The performance of a website or of marketing activities can never be defined as a lump sum. Ultimately, it depends on individual marketing goals. These goals, in turn, can be divided into individual phases. If a campaign is aimed at building brand reach, one performance criterion could be to achieve as many page views as possible within a certain period of time, while an established online shop wants to achieve as many sales for a certain product as possible. In the area of search engine optimization, important KPIs for performance tracking could be the retention time or various interactions. In a performance report, advertisers can thus see how often something was downloaded on a particular page, or how long a user has scrolled until they have found the desired product. In addition, technical aspects of the website are playing an increasingly important role in measuring performance. It is also important to know how the website performs on mobile devices, or how long it takes to load individual websites.
An important aspect of performance tracking is segmentation. This allows individual analysis groups to be grouped together. For example, the performance of a website can be measured for a particular category or product group, or it can be used to make statements about the purchase performance of a previously defined customer group. It is also conceivable to measure and evaluate the performance of a campaign in a certain season such as Christmas.
For a long time, it was common for search engine optimizers and webmasters to see access via keywords as a performance criterion for the website. For example, fixed keyword sets were usually defined beforehand and the page was measured on the basis of the accesses via the defined keywords. This may be practical for a website that can only be defined for a keyword and related keywords. However, if a web project needs to target hundreds or even thousands of different keywords, the performance for individual keywords is not as relevant. Rather, the performance criterion "user behavior" or "user engagement" comes into play, as they say more about the page's performance. There are indications regarding how long a user stays on the site, and to what extent he/she interacts with the content. As a consequence of performance tracking, this means that nowadays the focus is no longer solely on looking at individual keyword groups, but far more criteria are used for performance analysis.
A sustainable web analysis without performance tracking is hardly conceivable today. Because of constantly increasing demands on a good website, webmasters and SEOs have to do everything they can to clearly satisfy the user's expectations in terms of technology and content. Performance Tracking offers a good opportunity to constantly and precisely check previously defined performance criteria within the framework of web analysis and to always adapt them to the latest state of development.