Conversion rate, ROI, traffic, referral links – are just some of the countless terms that refer to the new art of measuring website effectiveness. This relatively new metric in the world of marketing, website analytics, has brought a new sense of accountability and oversight to the e-commerce world. But what does it really mean? What can web analytics really provide a website owner, and what are the basic rules any revenue-driving arm of a business should be aware of?
Website analytics: definition
Web analytics is a great tool for understanding who visits your web site and what they do while they are clicking from page to page. Much the way an in-store video camera is able to capture shopper behaviour, website analytics essentially tracks an online shopper or visitor throughout their movement of your online store. While e-commerce websites will rely heavily on website analytics, any web site can use these metrics to gain valuable insight into their visitor, lead, prospect or customer behaviour online.
Web analytics comes in two types:
1. Onsite reporting that is private data monitoring users on a specific web site
2. Offsite intelligence compiling visitor statistics about general internet usage
Website analytics: general information gathered
Onsite web analytics captures essential marketing intelligence like:
- Geographical locations of users
- Times and days a site is slack or busy
- Top content
- Keywords for searches that bring visitors to a site
- How long visitors stay on a site
- Where do your visitors go
Setting up web analytics: 4 steps to success
While you would be hard pressed to find a successful e-commerce store or website owner that does not utilize website analytics, it is arguable that many businesses fail to make the most from web analytics. Often time simple approaches offer the greatest results. If you are new to website analytics and marketing metrics you can utilize our simple four step strategy:
1. Define your business metrics
Consider your web site in the context of your entire business. Your online activity should not be created in a marketing vacuum. Understanding the role you want your website to play in terms of your business model is crucial. Realize that what occurs online is just a portion of your total business operations however, by utilizing feedback from your web analytics you can begin to understand how your web visitors are relating to your marketing messages. Ensure that you are defining marketing metrics that map directly to the purpose of your website and overall business position.
2. Set up your web analytics reports
Once your metrics are defined and you have a clear understanding of what you would like to know, it is fairly simple to generate a report form and required feedback. Create metrics that will gather the right information for your business model and create specifics as to how your business can leverage the data to improve.
A common pitfall is just to consider web analytics as the property of your online team when the statistics are really business analytics that the marketing team need as well. Prevent this mistake by simply gathering the input of both the marketing and technical arms of your business and make the creation of website analytics a cross-departmental initiative. Website analytics should ultimately be helping to drive your marketing strategy and provide valuable marketing data points.
3. Analyse the intelligence
While the process of gathering data is important, the analysis is where website analytics truly begins to contribute to business intelligence and marketing initiatives. The first part of the equation is obviously getting the web analytics or measurable information into the hands of the people who need to know what customers are doing, the second part is having them apply their intimate knowledge of the business and marketing strategy to the results. It is absolutely essential that the marketing arm of your organization understand the technical reports and are able to understand what results mean to the sales process. This is where metrics move into intelligence. By relying solely on the technical arms or webmaster of your business the true value is lost.
4. Take action
Once you have moved the metric to intelligence, the next step is to move the intelligence into action. Generating an action plan, a strategy, a tactical list or altering sales and marketing behaviour based on what your website analytics are revealing is the final crucial step. The true measure of value in all things is the actionable deliverables and the results these deliverables bring. Increasing your organizations ROI, decreasing operational costs, improving marketing messages, and increasing revenues are all possible if the intelligence is translated into actions that change the course of visitor behaviour and move it in a more profitable direction. Put your website analytics in motion and to work for your business.
Website analytics offer a valuable view of your business from one direction. While one can argue that website analytics is more of a solitary data point than it is a final analysis, there is no denying the importance of understanding the effectiveness of your marketing efforts through website analytics. When implemented strategically, and with marketing strategies and corporate business goals in mind, website analytics can be a powerful portion of your business intelligence that ultimately can drive significant changes in your organization and bottom line.