In order to determine how well your organization is performing, setting goals is a crucial part of determining and measuring success. However, in the world of web metrics, there are thousands of metrics to choose from and to set goals for. Typically the most common metrics to measure are some variation of sessions, time on site, pages per session, bounce rate, newsletter or visitor guide signups, and partner referrals. These selected metrics will be referred to as Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs.

While these metrics are excellent measurements of overall website performance, we will illustrate why measuring several KPIs all at once can actually be detrimental to your organization’s success and how to ensure you’re measuring what matters.

The Trap of Competing KPIs

In this scenario, assume for your key performance indicators (KPIs) you have selected time on site, pages per session, partner referrals, and newsletter sign ups. You have also set goals you’d like to achieve for all of these metrics.

After reviewing your website reports for the previous month, you realize partner referrals are down on your website, so in order to increase this number, you change how you display your partners on your site and place a more noticeable “Visit Website” button on the partner listings. After making the change, you review the report for the following month and see your partner referrals have gone up.

However, you now notice that time on site and pages per session have now gone down. Now that it’s easier to get onto a partner website, website visitors are visiting fewer pages and spending less time on your site on average, lowering both of those KPIs. So in order to rectify this issue, you decide to remove the change you made last month, increasing the time on site and pages per visit, but lowering your partner referrals back to the baseline where you were unsatisfied with the results.

What’s a Composite Metric?

DMO websites have a variety of purposes to a variety of users. If you view a website visit from user who visits your website for an above-average amount of time and browses several pages on your site or completes a desired action (partner referral, travel guide request) both as a successful visit, you should have one metric that reflects the number of users who completes any of those actions, rather than pitting your metrics against one another This is where composite metrics come in.

Here is an example of a composite web metric:

Data and Insights-Composite Metrics Blog1- march 2021


With this metric, if a user who knows what they’re looking for comes to your site and goes immediately to a partner’s website, that is considered a successful website visit. If a user is just in the planning phase of travel and looks at three pages on your site and spends three minutes browsing around your site, that is also considered a successful website visit. Now no matter what website actions or activities you’ve been measuring in the past, you can now look at this single metric to measure your website’s success.

You will still measure the individual metrics of what makes up this composite metric individually (time on site, pages per visit, newsletter signups, partner referrals, etc.) so that when your overall composite metric goes up or down you can see why and act accordingly, but now instead of focusing on three or more, usually competing metrics, you have one KPI to quickly see how your website is performing and optimize towards one single goal.