A lot has been said, written, and posted about Web analytics in recent years. Every website owner seems to understand that he or she needs to have web analytics in place—it’s part of practically every web-related sales pitch or digital marketing plan going—but there’s a big difference between knowing you need something and knowing how to make use of it.
Before I go on, let’s take a moment to define web analytics. Essentially, it’s the practice of collecting, measuring, analyzing, and reporting website traffic and usage. I’m talking about things like . . .
- How many visitors did your website have last month, last week, or on any given day?
- What web page did visitors access most?
- How long did they stay there?
- What kind of browsers and operating systems were they using?
- Were they using a mobile or desktop device to visit your site?
- What website were visitors on before they visited your site?
- What search terms did they use to find you?
You get the picture. If you can ask it, there’s probably a way to measure it.
Tools of the Trade
The kinds of web metrics outlined above (and many more) are typically tracked and reported using software.
One of the most popular and widely used tools is Google Analytics, which also happens to be free. Google Analytics is used by tens of millions of websites, so it’s a proven, reliable tool and a favorite of most small businesses.
GoSquared and Clicky are other analytics tools that offer real-time data collection, analysis, and reporting. Like Google, each offers a free level of service, which is great for beginners and small businesses, as well as paid levels of service depending on volume and the level of desired sophistication.
The point is, there’s no shortage of ways to track and analyze your online presence, and most solutions are easy to implement and easy to monitor. So what’s stopping you?
Clicks Are Off the Charts!
Using What You Learn
Now that you’ve got data, what’s next?
I routinely encounter business owners and marketing leaders excitedly pouring over their web analytics data, thrilled to discover their volume of visitors and delighted to know where they came from, only to then wonder, “Now that I have this information, what can I do with it?”
Let’s pretend for a moment that you’re in the business of producing and selling active gear and action sports products. Your customers are athletes and people with active lifestyles:
- What do you think knowing the volume of visitors, where they are coming from, and the pages they frequent on your website can do for you?
- What can you glean from how long they stay on a certain page and the actions they take there (or don’t take)?
Knowing this information helps you make decisions on where you should be advertising, which social media platforms are creating the most buzz, what types of content and messages people react to, and so on. You’ll be able to plan new product or service offerings, or refine existing ones. You’ll know which business relationships are beneficial to your business, and which underperform.
You’ll know whether your branding efforts are spot on or need retooling. You’ll know whether your sales message is converting visitors to customers, or if your messaging is missing the mark.
In a nutshell, the data collected will lead to better, more well-informed decision making. You will be operating with eyes wide open and you’ll be able to refine you web, marketing, communications, and product development strategies. Otherwise, you’re really just shooting in the dark—guessing at what your target buyers want, what they’ll respond to, and what the most effective way to get your message out to them is.
Today’s marketplace is ultra-competitive. Can you afford to be operating so blindly? Hardly.
Not a One and Done Proposition
As the Owner, CEO, or marketing guru for your company, you’re expected to wear a lot of hats. Chances are you are quite good at filling multiple roles—otherwise you and your company would not be where you are today. That said, even the most successful often feel overwhelmed at the prospect of having to manage their online presence. Technology and best practices seem to change almost daily. How can you be expected to keep up when you have so many other responsibilities?
That’s where savvy technology and marketing partners like Barrel O’ Monkeyz come in. It’s our job to keep at the forefront of all things web-related and digital so you don’t have to.
First and foremost is the realization that when it comes to monitoring the performance of your online presence, it’s not a one-and-done proposition. You cannot just launch your website, take a baseline measure, and hope it performs the way you want it to.
Using analytics tools, you’ll want real-time monitoring on an ongoing basis so you can constantly track how visitors use your website and how your social media performs across multiple channels. In addition, you’ll want to understand how your non-web activities impact your operations and marketing (direct mail, point-of-service promotions, etc.).
Such knowledge is critical for maintaining and refining your online presence and activities over time . . . which is vital to your company’s overall success.
12 Steps to a Better Web Development Experience
Whether your already online or you’re thinking of launching a new website, the Barrel O’ Monkeyz “12 Steps to a Better Web Development Experience” White Paper (PDF format) is full of ideas and resources you can use right away to begin developing a successful web strategy. Click here to download.
Paul June is King Monkey of BARREL O’ MONKEYZ, a full-service digital media and marketing group specializing in more creativity, ideas, and fun for action sports marketing, sportswear marketing, sports product marketing, active lifestyle consumer products, health product marketing, and brands in San Diego and Southern California.