by Toby Ward — Why are unique visitors more valuable than visits or page views? Well it all depends on your perspective and what measures resonate best within your organization (particularly with management).
I have decried on more than one occasion those who would flaunt
HITS as a measure of success. How Idiots Track Success – my tongue in
cheek definition of HITS (though I was not the first to use it when I
first heard it about 9 years ago, I’ve certainly used this in enough
speeches, workshops and articles to help popularize it) is certainly
appropriate given the lack of proper business metrics for measuring
So without being too cute, here are some worthwhile metrics for
measuring the performance of your intranet, portal or website:
Cost per visit
Return on investment
If I visit the intranet and view 20 pages, registering 140 hits,
my visit counts as a single visit regardless of the page views or hits.
If I leave the site and return that’s a second visit – but I still am
only counted as one unique visitor for the period in question (most
companies track statistics monthly or weekly).
Why are unique visitors more valuable than visits or page views?
Well it all depends on your perspective and what measures resonate best
within your organization (particularly with management). The reason I
like unique visitors is because it is easiest to determine your reach
(% of total employees that access the intranet within a given period).
If in one month you have 4,400 unique visitors and you have 5,000
employees then your reach is 88% (very good).
Divide the total number of visits by the number of unique visitors
and you get another valuable metric: average number of visits per
Cost per visit
Cost per visit, like ROI, sells well with management. Most
executives still view the intranet as a cost center. As such, it is
incumbent on us managers and consultants to help change that mindset.
While ROI packs more punch, cost per visit helps soften the blow. What
resonates better if your CFO asks you how much the intranet costs to
- Answer A: $300,000 per year
- Answer B: 3 cents per visit
Solid intranets firing at above average value for employees garner
three to four visits per day per employee. Multiplied by 10,000
employees and you’re looking at about 10 million visits per year or 3
cents per visit.
The answer to my question as to what resonates best with your
CFO...? Well, it depends on how tight his suspenders or her shoulder
pads are but I wager that nine out of 10 are far more likely to smile
when you say “only 3 cents per user!”
Don’t just track what your users do. Find out what they want and
prefer. Log analysis metrics don’t any qualitative insight into what
employees ‘want’ and ‘expect’.
I like to measure employee user satisfaction on a scale of 1-10
because people intuitively are more use to ranking movies, etc. on a
scale of 1-10. However, many professional researchers would decry this
approach and point out the inefficiencies versus a 5-point scale with
Good and Very Good being the optimal scores. You need to find out what
employees will respond to best, and what ‘sells’ best to those decision
makers funding the intranet.
For an example of other user satisfaction data you might glean
from your employees, here are some sample results from a recent
intranet client survey (online survey by invitation to 3,000 employees
with a 25% response rate):
How often do you use the intranet?
The following is a list of the major content categories currently
available on the intranet. In your opinion, please rate the IMPORTANCE
of each on a scale of 1-10 (10=Extremely Important; 1=Completely
The most important content categories in order include:
Return on investment
While few organizations are spending significant time accurately
measuring ROI, it is important to 76% of the respondent companies in
the Prescient Digital Media Intranet ROI Survey (see ROI
Remains Guesswork At Most Companies
Those that have measured ROI are finding significant value. Of
those that measure or offer ‘rough estimates’ of their organization’s
intranet, answers varied from $0 to $20M. The average annual ROI of
respondent intranets fell just shy of $1 million ($979,775.58). The
average company size had between 4,000 to 5,000 employee users.
However, 40% of respondents had less than 1000 employees while 20% had
more than 10,000 employees.
I’ve identified more than 130 line item benefits that can be
measured for dollar value ROI (see my white paper Finding ROI
) so there really is no excuse – there’s
plenty to be measured.
Measurable ROI from hard benefits including cost savings and
Soft benefits include:
increased employee productivity
better customer satisfaction
faster time to market
improved employee retention
IBM, Oracle and Cisco all measure the impact and benefits of their
intranet. And all of them have measured the value to be greater than
US$1 billion. In fact, IBM has realized benefits from e-learning via
the intranet to alone be more than US$284 million.
Of all the above measurements, perhaps the single most important
is ROI. To maximize the intranet’s value and potential, you must secure
the support of senior management. If you want their attention and
support, you better talk their talk. Nothing gets their attention more
than ROI. If executives view the intranet as a cost center, then it’s
incumbent of the managers to prove and measure the value. Only through
measurement will the intranet become a measured quantity and a proven
This article was original posted as an intranet
blog February 22, 2006.
Toby Ward, a former journalist and a regular e-business
columnist and speaker, is the President and Founder of Prescient Digital Media. For
more information on Prescient’s CMS Blueprint service, or for a free
copy of the white paper “Finding ROI”,
please contact us.