For most of us, the term web analytics is synonymous with the free Google Analytics tool that many small businesses use to track site traffic.
If you’re using analytics of any type to gloat (or mourn) over your page views and unique visitors, you could be missing a powerful opportunity to use web analytics to improve your marketing.
Pierre DeBois of Web analytics firm Zimana, who happens to be a friend, is an analytics expert who has crafted seven ways you can start using web analytics today. Try them to improve your marketing and grow your business:
1. Measure the cost effectiveness of offline advertising
Your business might spend hundreds of dollars on a flier but you are not sure if people will check out the website for more information. Why not include a URL to a tagged landing page that provides more specific information and a link to the main page. Another way is a specific URL with special tags that enables you to more easily track the traffic to the URL.
Either way, you now have a means to see how effective an offline method is and can compare against other marketing efforts.
2. Funnel analysis to know if some visitor segments are leaving
Yahoo! Web Analytics and Google Analytics have different names for this feature, but the purpose is the same in each. A traffic funnel shows where visitors are exiting from a site -- think of it as a map to find the source of a pipe leak. This visual helps website owners understand what offerings should be tweaked to retain visitors and lead to more conversions. It can also show where a pop up page (Did you not find what you were looking for) or a survey would be potentially placed.
3. Use event tracking to count white paper downloads or video plays
4. Study real- time analytics to know when visitors are arriving
Real time analytics tools such as Piwik and Woopra can indicate which time of the day traffic arrives to the site. This information can be a more granular way of seeing if the timing of an event triggered more views on a site and potentially more downloads or purchases.
5. Use customer segmentation to know which kinds of customers are responding
The benefit of segmentation is to help identify visitor segments that best match the site goals and develop some answers as to how the segment relates to the business objectives of the site. Measuring only “hits” instead of kinds of visits is not real analysis.
6. Check site functionality to know if your site is performing well
Examining funnel diagrams, bounce rates can indicate a functional problem with the site -- the inability to call up a page, for example. Many analytics tools also consider the OS and browser of visitors -- this helps show if there are problems affecting one browser that could prevent visitors from arriving onto the site. The OS measures can also be effective way to determine if sire traffic is arriving via an iPad or mobile device, an indication of a mobile audience and if developing offering for this audience has potential.
7. Use a Map Overlay to know where your efforts are working
In Google Analytics the map overlay feature can show which regions you traffic is coming from. This may help you understand if a targeted region is yielding interest, or if there are intended regions are not being reached. Other analytics tools offer variations of the map overlay.
There are more potential uses, and even more tools to make the work relatively easy:There are now applications like Hootsuite, Twitterlyzer and Mailchimp that allow some overlap of analytics data from different properties and make analysis more integrated. The point is to make any business’ online properties a working asset by understanding how visitors are receiving what is being offered and to undertake action that can improve customer experience.