Web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of web data for purposes of understanding and optimising web usage. However, web analytics is not just a process for measuring web traffic, but can be used as a tool to assess and improve the effectiveness of a website. Web analytics applications can help you to understand, for example, changes in traffic to a website after the launch of a new advertising campaign.
Your e-mail service provider can provide a number of metrics to help you track the success of your e-mail marketing campaigns. But Internet marketing is about more than just e-mail. Customers can reach your website through other numerous paths, including search engine results, banner ads, popup ads, and links from social media sites. To understand what’s effective and what’s not, you need to be able to track all this behaviour.
Fortunately, there are numerous service providers of web analytics and reporting to choose from. However, by far the largest is Google Analytics, which offers its basic service free. Whether you choose Google or another provider, you need have a sense of the types of reporting available.
On-site analytics refers to the behaviour of customers on your website. You want to know how users are navigating your website; are certain web pages viewed more often than others; do users frequently leave your site after viewing certain pages; how long do users stay on your site; do your calls to action give the desired results?
Heat maps or mouse flow software can be utilised to determine where people are and are not clicking on your website, or how people scroll down your pages and where they stop. We know that people’s eyes follow the path of their mouse so mouse flows are a good indicator of where users’ eyes are focused.
One of the more useful features offered by web analytic tools is the ability to focus on a particular customer’s behaviour. For example, you can generate reports that compare the page view behaviours for users that make a purchase versus those that do not.
Your ultimate business goal is to sell your product, after all, and not just drive web traffic. This type of analysis allows you to explore which features of your website are actually driving revenue and which are not.
Understanding where your website traffic is coming from is particularly important. A staple of web analytics is the ability to generate reports that show how much of your web traffic comes from which source — search engine hits versus banner ad clicks versus bookmarks, for example. Good web analytics tools enable you to view these reports with a fine level of detail. You can tell what search terms most often lead to a visit to your website and which social media site generates the most clicks on your banner ad.
A well-organised web analytics tool lets you track the effectiveness of your online marketing campaigns with great accuracy. What’s more, they let you do so quickly. Even the most rudimentary platforms provide information that’s less than a day old. In some cases, you can get these reports almost in real time.
Effective online marketing depends on good web analytics. The cost and effort of finding the right analytics package for you and configuring it to your particular business needs will be well worth the effort. After all, knowledge is power. And your website is a powerful, revenue-generating, customer-retaining, brand-building tool, if used correctly.