Web analytics may seem extremely boring, dry, and the realm of bean counters and computer geeks only. Wrong! An understanding of web analytics is absolutely crucial for any web marketer. Knowing how to read web analytics will let you know if your efforts are actually working and where they are failing. Measuring the success of a campaign, just by how much sales increase from it, is not enough.
Today’s web analytics tools can harvest a host of demographic and technical data. They are also used to run tests between two different ad campaigns to see which variables cause an upswing in clicks and conversions. In this article, I'll cover the basics of web analytics and how it can help your marketing strategy.
Determining needs and goals
Every marketing campaign should have a measurable goal that it is trying to reach. This can be a broad goal such as “more sales in Q3 than Q4” or something web-specific like “Reduce my bounce rate by 50%.” You must know what it is that you’re trying to achieve. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time.
Strategize: Defining metrics
Web metrics fall into three broad categories:
- Visitor behavior metrics that tell you how visitors find and interact with your site
- Goal completion metrics, such as conversion rates and other metrics designed to measure customer actions on your website
- Backlink metrics, which measure who is linking to you, how they are doing it, and how that is affecting your website
Google Analytics can provide you with basic web analytics for free, but the juiciest metrics and analysis can only be gotten through a professional analytics company. Spend some time with Google Analytics’s help pages at https://support.google.com/analytics/?hl=en to familiarize yourself with some of the more common metrics such as visitor counts and bounce rates. This will help you be able to evaluate how well any company you’ll hire for internet marketing is actually doing.
Collecting data is a pretty simple process. At most, you may need to add a special tag to your web pages and configure any special reports that you wish to gather from your analytics tools. You should let your analytics program run for at least a month to get baseline data before you start to run any tests.
The true power of metrics comes in when you start implementing changes and testing them to see how they affect metrics. Testing methods such a A/B testing and multivariate testing let you measure two or more different versions of your site at the same time and run metrics on them both for direct comparisons.
Learn: Improve, rinse and repeat
Once you have testing data and you’ve analyzed it, then it’s time to implement any changes and see if they work. From there it’s just a process of repeating tests and improvements until your metrics reach the goals that you set for yourself. If you’re able to attain this, the campaign was a success!
If this sounds like too much work, or you want someone to help you out, we can help you find out which metrics are best for your purposes, what they mean, and how to make tests to improve the numbers.