Websites are pretty much a prerequisite for marketing a business these days but are the dollars you are investing in it delivering enough sales to make it a worthwhile investment? Is it bringing new visitors? Are they buying? Could it be performing better? It can be hard figuring out just how successful your site is. To begin to answer these questions you need to take an in-depth look at what visitors are doing on your website - you need web analytics.
What web analytics can tell you – and why you need to know
Web analytics is the study of visitor’s behaviour on a website. Marketers can learn a lot by utilising web analytics. Here is a list of the main reasons why any business with a website should be using the analytic data it is capable of gathering:
Identify and invest in the best lead sources:Three analytics in particular are worth tracking for this purpose: direct traffic, referring sites, and the keywords people are using to search for your site.
Direct traffic refers to visitors who have either typed the business’ web address or name directly into their browser or clicked on a bookmark. The percentage of direct traffic you receive is an indicator of how well your brand is known. If few of your visitors come direct it may be time to increase marketing of your products to make them more familiar and to promote your website more widely.
Referring sites are those that have a link to you on their pages. Link analytics will tell you how many visitors came to you from each source plus the quality of the lead – whether visitors from one source were more likely to buy than those from another. If only a few websites are sending you good traffic, you probably want to build up a good relationship with those sites and extend link partnering relationships to similar sites. If they are ad placement sites you pay for, then you’ll know which ones to spend with and which ones to drop – they may be sending you a lot of traffic but if it’s not converting there’s no point in paying for their service.
You can track which keywords visitors have used in search engines looking for your site. Cross reference this data with conversion rates and you have the information to tweak your marketing text and keywords for search engine optimisation and attracting the most likely prospects. Analysing referring keywords and conversion rates is especially important when running paid ad campaigns. Why pay for clicks that don't convert?
Conversely if you’re getting a lot of search engine traffic on particular terms that you don’t necessarily want to show up for, maybe because they are peripheral or irrelevant to your business and the visitors just click away again anyway, you might want to spend some time on de-emphasising them in your content and marketing.
Track campaigns channel effectiveness and buying patterns:How successful was your last e-mail marketing campaign? Could you determine if a particular sale came from your initial e-mail or from a follow up? Did the second follow up bring in any business at all? If you track each campaign using the web analytics data they generate you can establish answers to questions like these and plan future campaigns more precisely.
If you take a look at the analytics on sales by day of the month - you can even drill down to times during a day - you’ll know when to launch a new product, promotion or project. You want to launch before traffic peaks so the information gets seen by the most visitors.
Identify under performing webpages:In the world of online marketing many site visitors are likely to leave again immediately after landing. That’s a bounce – an exit by a new visitor before going any deeper than the page they landed on. Bounce rate is an indication of how well a webpage is delivering its marketing message in terms of how long people stay on it and if they perform the desired action e.g. go on to make a purchase. If you're selling pool salt and, even though people are finding you using those words, they still bounce away, then it suggests there is something wrong - the content isn't very good, you're attracting the wrong audience, or your customers couldn't quickly and easily find what they were looking for. Establish the reason and tweak the text, the navigation or whatever so it does hold them.
Web analytics is another area where the saying ‘what you can measure you can manage’ holds true and the better the information you have about your website, the better the decisions you can make to get the most sales out of it.