Website ROI 101: What It Is and How to Track It

Paying attention to your website ROI is among the top things you can do to get an idea of how effective your website has been as a business venture.

Today, we’ll learn all about website ROI, what it is, and how to best track it.

What is ROI, and why is it important?

As you probably know, ROI stands for return on investment. It’s a metric that focuses on how successful a given investment is in relation to how much it costs.

For a website, the ROI is a relation of the cost of the website to the gains that the website generates. More specifically, we can calculate website ROI the following way:

ROI = (Gain generated from the site - Cost) / Cost

In this calculation, Cost is an aggregate of all the costs associated with building, running, and managing the website over a given time period.

Knowing your site’s ROI is crucial when reviewing your progress with the website and deciding if it’s worth continuing into the future.

How can you track website ROI?

If your website runs on WordPress.com, tracking your ROI is straightforward.

The main tool we are going to use is called Google Analytics. It’s the leader among online analytics tools; it’s also free, which is the perfect mix. Note that you need a WordPress.com Business plan to integrate Google Analytics.

Getting started with Google Analytics is relatively simple, but the exact sign-up process tends to change slightly every now and then. Check out our up-to-date walk-through on setting up your WordPress.com website with Google Analytics.

In short, what you need to do is:

  1. Sign up to Google Analytics.
  2. Add your website to your profile.
  3. Get the tracking code.
  4. Go to your WordPress.com dashboard and add that code in Settings → Traffic.

Adding your Google Analytics tracking tag to WordPress.com

With Google Analytics hooked up, now it’s time to configure ROI tracking.

Which metrics should you track?

Tracking your website ROI is all about paying attention to specific events that are being triggered on your website.

If you really want to get deep into tracking various website performance metrics, read more on KPIs and their role when analyzing your site’s business results.

In most cases, what you want to be tracking is either of the following:

  • Your conversions: a conversion happens when a visitor performs an action that’s desirable from the business owner’s point of view
  • Sales
  • Leads: people signing up to receive something from you
  • Clicks on affiliate links or referral links if you have those on your site

Every such action that you want to track can be connected to what’s called a goal in Google Analytics. You can define goals in various ways. You’ll find guides on how to do this in Google’s own documentation.

Creating a new goal in Google Analytics

What’s your ROI?

With the goals tracked, the last thing to do is to assign a monetary value to each event that’s being triggered, and then add up the total gain generated by your website.

Assuming you know the cost of running the website, you can now calculate the final ROI of the whole project. Again, it is:

ROI = (Gain - Cost) / Cost

To make sure your business stays afloat, you should examine your website ROI regularly — every six months or so. In some cases, a website can indeed produce a negative ROI, so it’s important to have your finger on the pulse. You can do just that by following the steps above.

Here are some things you can do that will help you generate a positive ROI:

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