I’m a big web analytics person. In fact, most of the work I do for others is to analyze web analytics and help them understand what it means for their businesses.
Web analytics is a powerful tool that can help you slice and dice numbers to understand your customers: what they want, what they don’t want, who are bringing you traffic, who are bringing you the best source of traffic, etc. I’ve worked with softwares such as the insanely expensive HBX (now Omniture), WebTrends, Urchin before it was purchased by Google, and the best free stats of all — Google Analytics.
Traffic analysis goes beyond looking at visits, uniques and pageviews. Your objective is to be able to provide a website that addresses the needs of your target audience, and in by ensuring a positive user experience, they will reward you with their loyalty to your site.
The first step is to clarify your goals. Afterall, without goals, how would you know how to get to where you want to go. These conversion goal can be sales, newsletter sign up, advertising purchase, ebook download, etc.
So what information can web analytics give you?
- Who are referring traffic to you? The traffic referrals data can help shape your marketing plan. Is Yahoo bringing you so little traffic; and if so, how can you optimize your site for Yahoo? Are social bookmarking sites such as Stumbleupon or Digg bringing you a lot of visitors; then is it worth your time to focus on them? How about your PPC campaigns?
- Going deeper to the referral numbers, what is the quality of visitors your traffic referrers are giving you? Look at the bounce rates. Are Yahoo Answers visitors staying longer in your site, perusing more pages and have a low bounce rate (percent of visitors who only visit one page of your site and leave immediately)? Are you getting a lot of Stumbleupon visitors, yet bounce rate is a high 90% which means that 9 out 10 leave your site immediately?
- Who among your traffic sources are bringing you the sales? Set a conversion goal, if your web analytics allow for it (if not, then change to a software that offers this functionality such as Google Analytics). Look at where these visitors who buy or subscribe to your newsletter come from.
- Of those who buy from you or perform your conversion goals, what else differentiates them aside from where they come from? What pages did they go first? Are there particular pages that act as bottlenecks?
- What content do visitors like? If you are running an information based site, what type of content do your visitors read the most? The create more of those pages. Or market the pages they are not going to at this point and give them more exposure in your pages as well as in your marketing activities. If you are earning via Adsense, for example, analyze which pages bring you the most revenues, and build more of those pages as well.
- If you are running pay per click or banner advertising, which creative actually brings you your goal?
- If you have an email newsletter, what types of subject lines get the most open rates, most clicks, and most forwarding to friends?
There is so much more to learn about web analytics. You can read more about using web analytics to improve your site in our Web Metrics and Site Performance Analysis