With more and more companies advancing their digital transformation plans, online activity and website analytics have become more critical than ever to understand. Analysing online data can help you identify customer trends and make data-driven decisions, but with so many data points available, where should you focus your attention?

Besides the popular data points we are accustomed to, thanks to social media, like the number of clicks and engagement, what do the other terms mean and how can they help make decisions? In this edition of our Jargon Buster series, we simplify five analytics terms including 'benchmarking', 'bounce rate' and 'referrer source' to help you make sense of it all.




Benchmarking is a feature used in most analytics tools to compare sets of data. It allows you to compare your existing content against industry data and previous content from your website to provide context about what is doing well. You start by setting out which data point you want to compare; popular choices are unique visitors and time spent on a page, then view your numbers against the industry.

You can use this information to help you identify industry and customer trends and produce what your audience is after. For example, if you write on several different topics, set your benchmarking data point as the number of views and see which one has the highest. Also, you get the bonus of seeing how you measure up against your competition.

Bounce rate

The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that leave your site from the point at which they entered, without going anywhere else on the site. A high bounce rate is not always bad. It depends on the page in question. For example, it is normal to have a high percentage if you have a single page like an article or blog post because it is intended to be read.

If you want the user to click on other pages, for example on a landing page where your main information is displayed, but you also want users to interact with other pages, then a high bounce rate means you need to analyse the page. You can decrease the percentage by making your call-to-actions clearer and improving the journey for the user.

Page impressions

Page impressions are slightly different to page views, and they are mostly used in social media and search engine analytics. An impression is when your URL appears on a user's screen, not when they have clicked through. When making decisions, page impressions become more valuable when you compare them to other data points. They are also a great metric to monitor when running an online advert.

When running an advert, where the main purpose is to attract clicks through to your website if you have a high page impression count but comparatively low click-through rate, this may suggest you need to tweak your advert's content. People see your content, but they are not engaging with it.

Session duration

Session duration is an essential data point as it calculates how long a user is on your website. A session is classed as an entire visit rather than a single page view. It considers all interactions, including multiple page views, engagement with media and e-commerce activity. The session ends when the user leaves your website, so the longer the duration, the better.

Analysing the session duration tells you a lot about your website's user experience, is the website journey easy to follow? Are the calls-to-action clear? You want a nice, easy flow on your website. It should be easy for the user to understand where to go if they want to find out more information, purchase a product or look at other content on your site. This data point will give you a better understanding of how your website is performing as a whole.

Referrer source/referral traffic

Referrer source is another key data point to keep track of when monitoring online activity as it shows how a user found your website. Having strong referral traffic is a good indicator that your promotions and online activities are working efficiently. Sources include e-mails, social media, other websites, search engines and more.

Analysing this data can help inform important marketing decisions. Did your email campaign have the desired effect? Is your website optimised for search engines? Are your social media efforts bringing users to your website? Being found via external sources is essential to any digital transformation strategy. Monitoring this data point will help you determine how users are currently finding your site and improve areas which are not working for you.