Your web site is your connecting point with your customers, and you can learn a lot by analyzing the traffic that comes through it. According to John Marshall, CEO of web analytics company ClickTracks.com, “Web analytics is the process of measuring various aspects of your web site in order to understand how you can improve your customers’ experience.”
Quantifiable Goals: What Analytics Actually Measure
Before you run out and purchase a web analytics tool, take a good look at your web site and figure out what area you’re looking to improve. Analytics provides a tremendous amount of feedback, but the data you need to zero in on is dependent upon your goals:
If you’re tracking an ad campaign, such as PPC, SEO, email, or print, you might be very interested in the following data results:
• Keywords: Web analytics tools measure the visitors you gain from various keywords. It’s important to separate the results from your PPC ads versus your SEO results, so you understand where your traffic is coming from.
• Click activity: Some of the more advanced web analytics tools monitor suspicious PPC activity, to help you guard against click fraud.
• Coupon Codes: When you place advertisements in print ads, coupon codes can help you gauge their effectiveness. You simply provide a coupon in the ad that gives your customers a code to enter in order to activate the coupon. Your shopping cart system can pick up that coupon, and every time someone uses one, you know they found you through that ad.
• Bounce rate: This is the percentage of people who click through one of your ads, and leave within a few seconds of arriving at your landing page. A high bounce rate may indicate that you need to be examining how well your landing page correlates to your ads.
• Visitor segmentation: Analytics tools can compare the behavior of one group of visitors against that of another. Groups are usually broken down by factors such as whether they came through a pay per click ad or an organic ad, or whether they found you through your search campaign versus your email campaign, etc.
If you’re trying to understand how your users experience your web site, or tracking your sales process to determine how well your site is converting, you might be more concerned with these measurements:
• Unique visitors: This refers to individual computer users, as opposed to the number of times that users come to your site. It’s a measure of how many people are spending quality time on your web site.
• Conversion rate: This number tells you what percentage of your users actually make purchases on your site. If your conversion rate is low, that usually indicates a problem somewhere in your sales process.
• Funnel report: This measures conceptually how deep visitors progress into your site. Web analytics track visitors through the checkout process stages to see at which stage you’re losing them, so you know what pages you need to modify.
The fundamental thing that web analytics can achieve for you is performance improvement. It enables you to observe your customers’ behavior and understand which elements of your site are working, and where adjustments are needed, to deliver the best possible customer experience. Advises Marshall, “Tracking your traffic lets you recognize what your buyers want and give it to them. Start by defining what you’re trying to improve, focus on the relevant data, and make your decisions based on what that data is telling you.”