Next Generation Trade Intelligence Portal

Your online guide

Step 8: Monitoring and evaluation

Learning points:

  • Different methods and tools to measure the success of your portal.
  • Added value of measuring conversion vis-a-vis visitor statistics.
  • Relationship of the monitoring and evaluation plan with your portal strategy, incl objectives and priority client groups.
  • Importance of key performance indicators.
  • Practical tips to make effective of Google Analytics and focus groups.
  • Integration of monitoring and evluation of your portal with related marketing efforts.

“We attract 20 thousands visitors per month. Our website is a big success!”

Many trade promotion organizations make such (or similar) statements, regardless the geographical origin of the visitor, background, objectives and behaviour on the portal. Obviously there are more effective ways to measure the success of your portal. This Step guides you in compiling an effective Monitoring and Evaluation Plan for your Trade Intelligence Portal.

Trade Intelligence Portal monitoring and evaluation

Off course it is nice to know how many visitors your portal attracts. However, in theory, a visitor may visit your homepage and leave it within 1 second. Not really a qualified visitor, is it?

It is all about conversion… 

The profile of your visitors and their completed actions on the portal are more important than their numbers. For example, ten international buyers who visit your portal to get in direct contact with your exporters, are likely to have a bigger impact on trade enhancement than 500 students looking for information. So, on your portal you want your visitors to complete a certain action. It is all about conversion, for instance:

  • Contact us
  • Download report
  • Register for newsletter
  • Apply for event
  • Complete assessment checker

Please refer to Step 4 for more details about calls to action and conversion of visitors.

Video: Good Practice(

CBI – Monitoring and evaluation

CBI provides you with useful insights into its Monitoring & Evaluation strategy. You will learn that CBI uses a range of different of monitoring and evaluation methods to assess the effectiveness of the portal, such as Google Analytics, online questionnaires, interviews and eye-tracking.

– Janneke Vereijken, CBI, the Netherlands

related to your strategy…

In addition, it is interesting to know how visitors relate to your strategy and objectives (see Step 2). If your portal targets, for instance, importers of fruits in the UK, The Netherlands and Sweden, it is interesting to analyse to what extent your visitors are indeed from these countries, and how they perform compared to your objectives.


Tim Parkman, Director Channels, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise“We prioritise for our online portal based on usage, webstats, customer empathy sessions, enquiries and search data. Using these data we continually look to improve and refine our performance against all audiences”

- Tim Parkman, Director Channels, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise

and your objectives…

Your portal plan includes specific objectives, in line with your strategy (see Step 2). Such as e.g. enhancing the member base, increasing the number of online applications or downloads and to obtain an even more positive qualitative opinion from your clients.

This is exactly what you will monitor in your Monitoring & Evaluation plan! The level of achievement of these objectives tells you the success ratio of your portal.

Key Performance Indicators

So called ‘Key Performance Indicators’ are directly related to your portal’s objectives. If possible, make them as specific and measurable as possible. Some guidelines for effective performance indicators:

  • Direct: measure closely the result it is intended to.
  • Objective: no ambiguity and one-dimensional. 
  • Adequate: avoid using too many indicators.
  • Quantitative: numerical indicators preferably.
  • Disaggregated: e.g. by gender, industry sector, location. 
  • Practical: data obtained in a timely way/reasonable cost.
  • Reliable: quality data for confident decision making.

Applied to your Trade Intelligence Portal, some examples of indicators can be:

  • Enhancing member base to xx thousand by the end of 20xx
  • Increase the number of online applications for events and seminars to xxx thousand per year
  • Have at least xx thousands of downloads by the end of the year
  • Grow the number of subscriptions to e-newsletters to xx thousand by August 20xx
  • Obtain at least 25 online enquiries from Germany by April 20xx
  • Increased customer satisfaction rate about our online performance by at least 5% per year. 
  • Increase in the time spent on the portal by 10% in one year
  • At least 10% of website traffic is generated by Twitter by December 20xx
  • Uptime of the portal at least 99.x%
  • Responsiveness of the portal to mobile devices achieved by December 20xx



Tim Parkman, Director Channels, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise“We’re trialling a Google Analytics evaluation model where we give content a value and therefore we can get a $$$ for each user based on the amount of interaction and content reviewed”.

- Tim Parkman, Director Channels, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise

Video: Good Practice(

CBI – Indicators & Targets

CBI uses indicators and targets for its Monitoring and Evaluation policy. Also, the video shows that user feedback has resulted in concrete usability improvements for CBI’s portal.

– Janneke Vereijken, CBI, the Netherlands

How to measure?

Two must-have tools to evaluate your portal’s success include Google Analytics and focus groups.

Optimizing online analytics

Google Analytics is a free tool that allows for full web analytics:

  • Number of visitors and their origin (country, city).
  • Keyword analysis (allowing for optimization of your SEO strategy).
  • Visitor flow (popular and exit pages).
  • Technology (usage of browsers, mobile, screen width).
  • Traffic sources (traffic from search engines, inbound links or direct traffic).
  • Social reports (traffic from your social channels).


Getting started with Google Analytics

For an introduction to Google Analytics, to understand the various functionalities and metrics, watch the video introduction ‘Getting started with Google Analytics’.

Google Analytics also offers quite interesting advanced features such as:

  • Content experiments (usability testing)
  • Tailored reporting
  • Linkages to Adwords campaigns
  • Heat maps of pages
  • And much more.

Google Analytics offers a range of video’s and tutorials to get you started and to make you full aware of all the insights. See below for related resources and links.

More info

IBCE, Bolivia: Increased success rate e-subscriptions through Funnels

With the help of Google Analytics the Bolivian Foreign Trade Institute (IBCE) dramatically increased the success rate of its subscription forms to its e-newsletter. Through the so called ‘IBCE mail’, IBCE offers its clients a bi-weekly e-mail newsletter service with alerts to events, publications, market studies and more. Since it is one of their core services, it has optimized the registration procedure that consists off four steps:

  1. Visit Publications page
  2. Go to registration link 
  3. Submit e-mail address
  4. Complete form and
  5. Send.

Through Google Funnels, a conversion functionality in Google Analytics’, IBCE learned that more than half of the visitors did not complete the procedure, and quit the 5 steps too early. Through the Funnel analysis, IBCE learned that almost all of the early-leavers did so in step 1. They changed the lay-out of this page and re-designed the call to action ‘subscribe’. The position and the colour of the button were changed, to get more attention. It was a success, since the conversion went up significantly after the change.

Optimizing focus groups

Focus groups allow for qualitative feedback to your portal. Focus groups provide you with opinions, browse behaviour and suggestions for improvement that plain statistics cannot give you. You are advised to apply focus group research (opinions) in combination with Analytics. Together, such quantitative and qualitative analysis provide very instrumental feedback.

Some suggestions when organizing focus groups:

  • Composition of focus groups should be in line with your strategy.
  • Have separate sessions for each target group since objectives are fully different (separate exporters from buyers for instance).
  • Guideline: five to eight persons in one focus group.
  • Apply a blend of methods (online assignments and tasks, individual and plenary discussions, open questions and suggestions)
  • Use measurable indicators for measurement of opinions (1 – 5 scale for instance)
  • Have a professional moderator who is trusted
  • Anonymous answers can sometimes increase response quality. 
  • Reward focus group members (financially, or through other ways) in order to secure their cooperation for the longer run. 
  • Recruit candidates who have a ‘positive critic’ attitude towards your organization. They should be willing to share their honest opinions. 
  • Half a day length is more than enough.

Other evaluation options

In addition, you may want to consider the following evaluation tools:

  • Usability testing (see Step 1).
  • Individual interviews or usability tests with representatives of your group of core clients. The focus should be here on obtaining feedback regarding completion of main website actions and objectives. 
  • Eye-tracking research.
  • Online surveys. 
  • Analysis of keyword searches of your portal’s internal search engine.
  • Benchmarking.
  • A combination of two or more methods.

Monitoring and evaluation of your social media performance

You also should monitor the success of your social media efforts. As with the number of your portal’s visitors; the number of Twitter followers or Facebook likes give only an indication of success. Some more advanced social metrics may include:

  • Traffic generation: visits from your social channels to your portal (the links to your landing pages).
  • Engagement; interaction following your posts. Retweets, favorites, likes, comments, shares, mentioning. 
  • Social status: through e.g. Klout or Sprout Social. 
  • Mentioning: what are they saying to and about you and the trade intelligence service? The more positive the buzz, the better. 
  • Customer service levels: response time to enquiries made via social media.

You are invited to read more in Step 5 about social media integration.

Evaluating your promotion efforts

In Step 9 on promotion, you find suggestions to develop and implement a promotion activities for your portal. You can evaluate your promotion efforts through the following indicators:

  • SEO performance, following your objectives, target groups and keyword strategy.
  • Click-to-open rate of e-newsletters.
  • Advertisement return on investment.
  • Link popularity.
  • Increase of traffic (to specific landing pages).
  • Conversion of website visitors (as discussed already).
  • Generated leads / conversion vis-à-vis total cost (cost per lead).
  • (Mobile) traffic conversion rates.
  • Decreased bounce rate.
  • Opinions of stakeholders about quality of brochures, newsletters and the like.

Highlights Step 8 – Monitoring and Evaluation

  • It is more appropriate to monitor conversion than the number of visitors on your portal. 
  • Benchmark the profile of your visitors against your portal’s objectives and priority client groups. 
  • Use key performance indicators. 
  • Google Analytics is a must-have tool to measure visitor statistics and their behaviour. 
  • Focus groups give you in-depth qualitative feedback. 
  • In addition to your portal, also your social media and the other promotion instruments should be part of the monitoring and evaluation plan.

Make use of ITC expertise

Want to know more about this step or how ITC can support you with your trade intelligence portal?

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