Getting Started with Analytics

Successful marketing campaigns and effective websites not only rely on basic analytics data, such as referrers and number of visitors, but also on user intent, search terms and what people are actually doing on your website. One of the best ways to improve your website is through measuring and monitoring via an effective analytics strategy. A good analytics program, such as Google Analytics, will help you discover where your website is succeeding and areas where you can improve. In this article I discuss some important things you need to to determine about your website and to make the most of your analytics program.

What’s Your Website’s Purpose?

I never cease to be amazed at how few websites can define their purpose in a simple sentence. They provide long answers. Include lots of useless information. And sort of stumble through the response.

Your website should have a single purpose that you can articulate in one sentence. That might be selling products, lead generation (capturing leads through a lead generation form), singing up users for an online service, increasing awareness about your products or services, and a number of other purposes.

Without one primary purpose, you have nothing to measure the success of your website against. Analytics programs are just tools. To make them work, you need to know the right questions to ask. That starts with your website’s purpose.

It also helps to be specific. Let’s say your website is about selling widgets. Your website’s primary purpose would be “selling X number of widgets in July.” Yeah, the monthly goal can change with market conditions business goals, but the overall purpose remains selling widgets.

Who’s Your Audience?

Analytics programs provide you with a great deal of information about your website and the people that visit it. Many websites just use the data to find out the basics, like the amount of traffic to the site, then focus on increasing that traffic. If you are only focused on improving your website for search engines to increase search traffic and page rank, you will not be as successful as you could.

It’s not the number of visitors to your website that matters, but what they do on your website. If you have 1000 visitors a day, but none of them buys your widgets, what good is that? If you have 10 visitors a day, but one of them makes a purchase then you are sitting pretty. The quality of the traffic matters, not just the amount.

To capture quality traffic, you need to focus on improving the user experience. To do that, you need to target the correct audience. Check out our post about blogging for more information about targeting the correct audience. The tactics you apply to writing an effective blog post apply to your overall website as well.

Optimizing your website for users not only improves quality of traffic to your website, but the flow of traffic as well. Properly targeted users are those interested in what you have to offer.

What Do You Want to Track?

Once you’ve nailed down your website’s purpose and your target audience, you need to determine what you are going to track through your analytics program. Analytics programs can provide you with a wealth of information. So much, in fact, that you can face information overload. That’s why it’s important to ask yourself a few more questions about your website.

  • What keywords and keyword phrases do you want to track?
  • What goal does each page on your website have (every page should have one specific goal)?
  • Which pages are successful and which pages aren’t?
  • What is the value of a successful page (e.g., if a page is a conversation page, what is the value of a user that signs up?)? If there is no specific monetary value, can you apply some other value to the page?

Use the answers to these questions to develop a baseline from which your measure your performance and return on investment. Knowing the value of a successful page, for example, tells you how much you might spend on pay per click advertising to drive visitors to that page. Using your analytics package, you can then track if you pay per click is paying off or not.

If you are just getting started with analytics, there are some basic metrics that are valuable to track that will help you create your baseline. Google Analytics makes it easy to track this information.

  • How many visitors does your website receive each day?
  • Where are those visitors coming from (geographic distribution)?
  • What are the top pages that your visitors view?
  • How long do they stay on the website?
  • How long to they stay on each page?
  • How many visitors return to your website?
  • What is your conversation rate (for sales, downloads, lead capture, etc.)?

Once you have these basic metrics, you can start to ask more complicated questions in conjunctions with the answers to the questions we started with in this section. I include some examples below. Google Analytics includes reports for all of these and more.

  • How do your conversations vary by geographic location, referrer, campaign source, etc.?
  • How does bounce rate (exits from the website) vary by geographic location, referrer, campaign source, etc.?
  • How many times does a user visit my website before they by a product, sing up for service, etc.?
  • What is the value of each conversation page?
  • How do new users use the your website versus existing users?

Breaking this information down by referrer provides highly valuable insight into the success of your website and your marketing expenditures. A referrer is simply the website that brought a user to your website. This could be Google, Facebook, an affiliate, a review website, and so on.

This the referring and how the visitors from that referrer behave on your website will help you determine where to focus your marketing efforts. If, for example, an affiliate if sending you a lot of traffic that converts well, you may want to incentivize that affiliate and help them promote your products even more. If you receive your traffic through Google, then search engine optimization may be an area to focus on. Are visitors coming from Facebook? Consider increasing your social media efforts there.

Analytics data can help determine where to focus your ad spend, if you should change your marketing efforts and how to improve your overall online marketing strategy. Google Analytics makes it easy to set up goals to track the effectiveness of your campaigns so you can see the effect of your efforts over time.

Take Action

All of this analytics data is useless and a waste of time if you don’t take any action on what you learn. Your website is an ongoing process that requires constant change, optimization and improvement. The questions you ask and the data you use to find the answers help you determine where to focus your efforts.

As you get more comfortable working with analytics data, you can start to ask more complex questions. You might consider A/B testing and multivariate testing to further improve your website optimization efforts‚Äö√Ñ√Æeven small changes can have a big impact on conversations and sales. Always keep in mind what your website’s purpose is and the audience so you continue to improve the user experience of your website.

Amprewave can help your small business be successful online with an effective analytics strategy. Our services include installing Google Analytics, setting-up goals, providing regularly reports with actionable recommendations, and more. We include this service as part of our Campaign Packages as well. If you have any questions about how we can help you with your analytics, please reach out to us.

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