A final step in building the foundation for your small business website is the leveraging of analytics data to improve your website results. Web analytics is data about your website visitors and their behavior in arriving at your site, while on your site and exiting from your site.
You can gain a basic understanding of web analytics through the StartupNation podcast, Startup Guide to Website Analytics as part of the Getting Efficient through Technology series.
Going beyond the basics, let's take a look at how analytics data can drive the business decisions you make.
Imagine you are a financial analyst, making major investment decisions. Clients rely on your assessments to make large amounts of money and to ensure that they do not lose the shirt on their backs.
That’s a lot of pressure. How do you know you are making the right decisions? One of your key weapons is to arm yourself with as much data as possible about the company you are analyzing, covering every aspect of the company’s financial health.
Similarly, as a small business owner you face a lot of pressure to make the right marketing decisions in order to grow your company. You can make effective decisions when you arm yourself with an ocean of data about the prospects and customers who visit your website.
To that end, web analytics is one of the prime tools at your fingertips that can help you uncover profound marketing insights, such as the following:
- How your site compares to industry averages.
- How your marketing campaigns perform comparatively.
- Your most productive online partnerships.
- Your most productive online ads.
- Seasonal website performance comparisons.
- Your most profitable site visitor segments (e.g., based on campaign, geography, source of visit, new vs. returning visitors, etc.).
- How your prospective customers search for services like yours online.
- The messaging they respond to.
- Their geographic location.
- What days of the week and times of day they are most likely to seek products/services online such as yours.
- The keywords driving the most sales.
- Your website’s ability to attract first-time visitors vs. repeat visitors.
- The pages of most interest within your website.
- The pages of least interest within your website.
- The success rate of your shopping cart and checkout process.
- The pages within your website that are driving prospects to your competition.
Popular analytics packages for small businesses include:
Check out the StartupNation article, How to Comparison Shop for Analytics Software for further details about web analytics product options.
If you would like to know where your site visitors are coming from, a web analytics package can tell you the specific websites from which they come to your site, the number of visitors from the different search engines through organic listings as well as paid search ads, and the number who type in your URL directly into the web browser. This enables you to know how effective links to your site are from other sites, how effective your ads on other websites are, and how you are performing on the search engines.
A great way to see inside the minds of your prospective customers is to understand how they search for your type of products and services online. Your analytics package provides you with the answers, revealing the exact search terms that they used when searching on Google, Yahoo! and other search engines.
And just as useful as the analytics data around traffic to your website is the data around activity on your website. You can see navigation paths through the site (how visitors move from page to page within your site). You can see their page views and time-on-site, bounce rates (one-page only visits) and exit pages (where they leave your site). This can be mapped back to the visit source, thus revealing:
- The quality of traffic from your marketing campaigns, ads and partnerships.
- The performance of individual pages within your site.
With all the good that web analytics provides, remember that it’s only data. What makes the data valuable is:
- Your analysis of the data on a regular basis.
- Leveraging of the learnings.
- The corresponding changes you make to your website and marketing campaigns.