To know what’s working and what isn’t on a company Web site, every business should gather essential data on customer purchasing patterns, demographics, site navigation, entry points, exit points, and much more. The easiest way to collect this data is by implementing Web analytic software into your site. There are countless providers ranging in price from free to thousands of dollars. The latter offer granular data, on-call support, and much more.
Web analytics, the study of online behavior that can be used to improve a company’s bottom line, is not a perfect science but it can give a company a great view into its customer base. It is a necessity for staying competitive online. When you’re able to tell, for example, that product A is getting a lot of traffic from source B but the bounce rate is really high and the duration of visits is low, you have the power to make changes to help close a sale. Your business can lower prices, lump together other highly searched products or services, or rewrite copy to make it more engaging. Remember, the data in your analytics report isn’t just numbers; it means customers.
Perhaps the most important information gathered from an analytics report is on the visitors to your Web site. This includes who is visiting, what they are clicking, and how long they are viewing the pages they land on.
Visitor duration or length of visit is very telling. This shows how engaging your content is and how extensively users interact with the content. If the duration is short, it might mean that your 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. To help resolve the problem of short visits, businesses should look at the number of page views and the bounce rate.
When someone visits the site, a single screen of content is referred to as a page view. For a business that’s involved in publishing, providing content, or even sales, the number of pages visited is extremely important. For example, a site that sells products can use page view counts as an indicator of traffic received on Mondays and compare them to traffic received on Fridays to determine what products to showcase on the given day their page view numbers are highest. In another example, if you can name the number of page views you receive per month you can base the price you charge for an ad on that number.
Another important visitor-oriented analytic is the bounce rate. A bounce rate is a percentage of how many people visit a site then leave without going any further. A high bounce rate is bad news for most companies because they want to keep visitors on the site for as long as possible. However, with analytics, a company can view the bounce rate over time and see where and why people are leaving, gaining important feedback on areas that may need a little sprucing up.
For both marketing and sales research, it’s important to know the different kinds of sources that send traffic to your site. With these numbers, a company can see traffic trends as well as the traffic sources driving those trends. A few things to keep an eye on are “direct traffic,” “referring sites,” and the “keywords” people are using to search and land on your site.
A site’s direct traffic refers to people who’ve either typed the company’s Web address directly into the browser or clicked a bookmark. The percentage of direct traffic a company receives is important because it shows that people know who you are and like what you offer. If you aren’t receiving a large percentage of direct traffic, it may be time to look at ways of marketing your company’s Web presence to reach more people and make it a household name.
Referring sites show visits from people who’ve clicked to your site from another Web site. Referral data is useful because not only will you be able to tell the number of visitors a link partner is generating, but you will be able to see the quality of the traffic those links are producing. It will also give you a good sense of where you should be placing your links on partnered Web sites and, if the percentage is low, where and who you should be looking to partner with. Lastly, referring traffic is a good way to monitor chatter about your company or product on the Web, especially blogs and news sources.
When it comes to keywords, there’s an entire industry dedicated to optimizing Web sites and purchasing the right keywords. Knowing what keywords consumers are using to find your site is extremely important. The analytic reporting of keywords can give you a greater knowledge of who your customers are and what they’re looking for; they may even surprise you. If you see that a certain keyword is hot, you can use that information to better place or promote certain products or content and even make special offers. Keywords can also be used to track trends on your site. For example, you may notice that a particular product search is hot around the holidays then drops off in other seasons. Mashing the various types of data together will help you close the sale.