We choose to look at what we call "quality" visits in marketing terms, even if the headline website traffic might be slashed by 90%.
Those of you who use us to run Google AdWords campaigns and who run Google Analytics will be familiar with the format which we like to report on your website traffic. The first thing we do is to gloss over the total number of visits you get to your website, because that's just the equivalent of counting the people who walk past your exhibition stand. The only thing which should be of interest is "how many people actually do something?"
For that reason, we choose to look at what we call "quality" visits in marketing terms, defined in most cases as engaged visits (the visit lasted more than a few seconds and/or included looking at more than one page), from first-time visitors, located in the area where the company does business.
Once you've done this, your headline website traffic might be slashed by 90%. But at an exhibition, you're primarily interested in the people who actually come on to your stand and who you haven't met before, aren't you? It should be the same with your website.
Of course, it's a brave marketing manager who says: "I know we've been reporting on how we've grown our weekly website visits from 750 to 1,000 in the last year, but now we're changing the measurement criteria and I'm pleased to announce our website visits have gone up from 65 to 90." But seriously, that's what you should be doing. What we find is that the visits recorded from some external websites and advertising initiatives fall to zero when you do this. They might have looked good at first glance, but everyone they sent was useless.
We set up our measurements of "quality" visits using the "segments" function in Google Analytics. It's not too hard. But an alternative – and cruder – approach used by some companies is just to investigate quality by looking at the "bounce rate". It's up to you. If that's a preferred approach, you may like to see how you can now tweak the bounce rate metric in this article from the Google Analytics blog.