Web Analytics is defined as “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of Internet data for the purposes of understanding and optimizing Web usage.”~ Wikipedia
Once upon a time, life online was very simple. Type a URL and a file with text and links would be delivered and you were happy. But sometimes, when you typed a URL, the file was not delivered or the links had problems. When this kept happening, it bothered people.
Someone used his or her brain to set things right and came up with a solution: “server error logs.” These error logs provided information about hits (requests for a file). They told you that someone hit the website, the filename they requested, time, from where they were making that request, IP address, operating system, browser etc.
That was just the beginning. With such smart people working on them over the years, these logs started getting better and better until one fine day you had all the detailed information. Check out this summary by Clicktale.
Web analytics was born!
It tells you what’s happening on your site. When you visit your site, all you can see is what you’ve created – the design, the content, the call to action etc. Analytics tells you what goes on behind your back.
Your site is your creation but you’ve no way of seeing what happens there. Did one of the visitors enter the page on affiliate marketing? Or did they click on the free eBook link? There are no footprints on the website to show you where they went and you have no idea how much time they spent on your site.
Web Analytics shows you in minute detail, your visitors’ footprints. Where did they enter from and how did they exit?
Research tells us that visitor behavior and conversion rates are solely dependent on the experience your website offers. A wrong design, site sluggishness, bad content or something else can tick off visitors and make them exit as fast as they’ve landed there.
As marketers, one of the biggest advantages conferred to us is the sheer amount of data generated about visitor and customer behavior. There are many companies that have built their businesses around providing online marketers data pertaining to their websites.
What use is all this data, you might ask?
How much better can it get? You can change things for the better based on what people did on your site.
If a first time visitor buys something you’re selling on your website, you know you got it right.
If most of your leads are coming to your website by clicking on a link on another site, you know your guest posts there are effective.
If leads coming from your Facebook fan page are converting better, you know you should be focusing more on Facebook.
Such crucial information can change the course of your business. Analytics tools can be powerful and one of the best and free tools is Google Analytics.
You will see in the image that Google Analytics is used by 66% of the top 500 websites today.
Google is always in the forefront to provide a great user experience, and Google analytics has been and continues to be one of the most popular analytical tools online. So much so that, Yahoo had to close down its analytics.
Out of all these analytics solutions, Google is the only one that offers both free and enterprise versions. Most marketers manage fine with the free version, and the premium version is used only by a small number of companies around the globe.
I look at it as a great gesture on the part of Google, of not going commercial like so many others who don’t offer free versions. Google could have made a fortune but they decided to offer it free.
There is an overwhelming amount of data you can get from Google Analytics.
But the following are the most important:
Site Speed: Google analytics lets you see how many visitors are checking into different parts of your site as well as the speed at which those pages are loading. I’m sure you’ve experienced slow sites and understand how frustrating that can be. This helps you rectify the problems and bring back traffic.
Site Search: The idea is for your visitors to spend more time on your site, which is an indication that they’re engrossed in what you have there. If they find it disinteresting, they exit right away. The site search function gives you every single detail of how visitors are engaging themselves on your site. It will also give you the keywords and phrases they are searching for. With this data in hand, you can perhaps design your website better, change the navigation or create relevant content.
Multi-Channel Funnels: You know everything there is to know about traffic; where each lead came from, search engines or social media or RSS etc. You can set up multi-channel funnels to see which channel is bringing you the most leads. It also shows you the path they take to reach your site. Imagine how crucial this information can prove to be.
They install analytics on their websites or blogs and get their hands on a lot of important data. What do they do with this data? Nothing!
Knowledge is not power. Acting on that knowledge is power!
Fact-based decision-making is the only way to succeed. Take the important information from the analytics and use it to your benefit. If you find that Facebook is sending you more leads, spend more time there. If you find that visitors don’t like a certain page on your website, change that. Do what it takes, but work on every single bit of information you have.
Success in marketing comes from putting in an effort and getting things right. We’re lucky to have data that tells us where we’re going wrong. It’s up to us to take advantage of that data and act upon it.
It would be interesting to know what you’re doing with the data from Analytics and which analytics tool you’re using. Do get in touch or leave a comment also if you have any questions on analytics.
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