Why Web Analytics is Vital: Back to Basics (Part 2 of 2)

In the previous post we started to delve into web analytics and considered web site purpose, determining if your online business objectives have been met, and how to measure web based income looking at a number of options.

15 Strategic Opportunities Identified by Effective Measurement of Web Based Income

  1. Concentrate more efforts on online and offline marketing which utilize the converting keywords in tag lines and copy.
  2. Pay strict attention to the landing pages associated with each of these keywords and make them more usable, more relevant and more motivating.
  3. Target the converting landing pages via other search marketing efforts and ensure they are as optimized for usability as possible.
  4. It is unlikely that you have too many landing pages that are not useful to your business, but if they are not converting then work with marketing, SEO, copy and design to make them more appealing to the visitors who are looking for the information they contain. If they are simply information pages for support, or which provide other contact or about us information, discount them from your area of concern. If they are old, update them. If they are no longer relevant, .301 them to the most relevant page that is converting and work the driving keywords into the copy of that page if it is relevant to do so.
  5. When you identify specific visitor paths that are converting, focus on them and make them more appealing, more usable, and more optimized for the human users via relevant content, ease of navigation and appropriate calls to action.
  6. If you identify specific visitor paths that are not converting, reassess the path based on the analytics data and work with marketing, content, development, design and SEO to provide a better user experience throughout the path. Provide alternate paths if that seems to make the most sense based on what you know of the conversion paths that are working.
  7. When you have determined what landing pages have a high bounce rate, analyze the keywords that are driving the traffic to those landing pages. A few simple content and design tweaks can enhance the user experience on those landing pages and get the visitor into one of the optimal conversion paths.
  8. If you have specific product or service portal pages that are not working, attempt to understand why based on the knowledge you have on performing keywords, landing pages and paths. Again, a few tweaks to the pages can make an enormous difference.
  9. For product and service portal pages that are converting, review and enhance usability and relevance.
  10. If you have individual product or service pages that are doing very well in terms of driving revenue, enhance and consider appropriate online offers.
  11. For individual product or service pages that are not performing, assess, refine, tweak and view them in conjunction with what you know about keyword search frequency as well as converting keyword data. If they are underperforming as a proportion of converting hits when compared to more popular products, consider offering online coupons, discounts and other motivating basic sales tactics. If they are underperforming in terms of gross numbers, but are proportionally inline with the more popular products and services, then it’s up to you if you want them to be ‘more popular’ and if their actual (not related) performance is appropriate.
  12. If you have geographic areas that are converting well, consider targeting them via paid search marketing including the best converting landing pages.
  13. If you have geographic areas that are underperforming assess if they are areas you are actively targeting. If they are, then the design and development of more geographically targeted landing pages and investment in associated geotargeted paid search might be a great option.
  14. The issue of new visitors vs. returning visitors is a two-sided coin. You want new visitors to be driving revenue as it illustrates increased online brand exposure. You also want to ensure that you have a good level of customer loyalty. A few months worth of data should give you a feel for what is happening on your site, and where you should focus your efforts.
  15. Looking at the length of time on your site for users who do not convert is an interesting study determining the optimal level of user engagement for your site. You may find that users looking for a specific product spend less time than someone coming in via a more generic based term, or vice versa. Again, a few months worth of data will highlight where there are possible opportunities, and where you are doing well and need to consolidate your web presence.

When taken as a whole, this web analytics data can provide you with a wealth of insight regarding the level of user engagement your site enjoys, and the level of user engagement your users themselves experience during a conversion.

There is also a lot of information that I have excluded that needs to be considered including shipping cost management, customer acquisition cost in relation to new design and development costs and paid search costs (remember, we made all previously done web work a fixed cost ate beginning of this illustration). We have tantalizingly touched on how web analytics data can provide you with new R&D or product line opportunities, new pricing strategies, and alternative promotion strategies. We’ll leave it as it is for now and move on to how you can get the best web analytics program for you.

How you can get this data.
All web analytics programs require the entry of some source code to the web pages. You will need to ensure that either you can handle that code entry in house, or that your web development provider of choice can do it for you. Most code insertions are very easy. The sophistication of each package can usually be determined by the cost of the package itself. In some cases the same can be said for the difficulty level of the integration of the software to your web site.

The Best Analytics Program for You?

In a nut shell, Google Analytics is a great tool, and it’s free and easy to utilize. It provides data on:

Visitors including:

  • Total visits
  • New visitors
  • Returning visitors
  • Page views
  • Bounce rates

Traffic sources including:

  • Search engines
  • Direct referrals
  • Referring sites
  • Keywords
  • Landing pages
  • Geographic areas

…and much more. It can also track offline initiatives.

For more advanced or revenue based web analytics data there are so many web site packages out there that offer great data. Not all provide keyword based revenue data. One of my personal favorites that provides data for every analytics requirement I mentioned in my illustration is Omniture. If it is financially feasible for you to integrate it, it comes highly recommended.

Ballard Vale has a list of web analytics programs that is a bit outdated, but will give you an indication of how many options there are. Research each one carefully, and then check for reviews on blogs and forums in your industry. User generated content (UGC) is, most definitely, a great break-though in so many ways. :)

How do I integrate my chosen web analytics package?

  • Speak to your in-house team and assess their level of understanding of web analytics in general.
  • If they do not appear to be entirely capable of providing you with the set-up and required levels of data gathering and interpretation you need, you have four options:
  1. Hire-in a consultant
  2. Hire-in permanent
  3. Outsource
  4. Rely on the support of your chosen web analytics provider

In the first case, check out their credentials carefully, and tell them exactly what you expect your team to be able to accomplish at the end of their tenure. Ensure you get post in-house consultative follow-up time for issues or concerns.

In the second case, make very sure you know what you need. You may need to hire a consultant to ensure you get the best bang for your buck in terms of hiring.

In the third, make sure you are outsourcing to an agency that specializes in ether web analytics itself, or in search marketing. Check their credentials and case studies. Ask them for actual examples, and make sure you clearly explain what you need and expect verbally and in writing.

If you choose the fourth and final option, you are pretty covered in terms of expense incurred, but if you are not entirely sure of their support, I would suggest extreme caution. Most programs that you pay for offer pretty good support.

That is one problem with Google Analytics. There is very little training as it is assumed that folks will understand exactly what they can do on every screen. That is not true. A bit of fiddling, practice and work on the forums can set you straight, but it would be better to get a Google Analytics expert to walk you through what you can do, how to do it and how to interpret it. If you do, you’re running from the gate.

Don’t leap into web analytics. It’s not that easy, it does require expertise, and it can result in utter confusion if you don’t get what you want the way you want it.

[End note: I was actually looking for a list of web analytics programs on - in my opinion - the best web analytics blog on the planet when I got totally side tracked by their online video analytics post… Check it out – this site is a must for web analytic nuts!]


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