If you have ever owned or run a business you will, at some point, wish you could read the minds of your customers. Whether you realize it or not, you do have something at your disposal that would put any crystal ball to shame. I’m talking about the power of analytics, analyzing the data surrounding the usage of your website.
As a small business owners, analytics could be the most valuable intel at your fingertips. When you understand the behavior of your Internet visitors, along with what parts of your website are effective and what other parts are being ignored, you can anticipate what your audience wants and deliver it to them before they arrive.
Where Your Traffic is Coming From
First and foremost, you need to know the source(s) of your traffic. Properly set up analytics will let you see how your visitors are arriving to your site. You can see how many referrals you are receiving from search engines and what terms and keywords people are using to find you. If the most obvious search terms are missing as sources for referral, you probably need to find a way to bolster your SEO concerning those keywords.
Knowing your traffic sources also helps you better understand how many visitors you are getting through channels like newsletters, email blasts and social media. Then you can understand which posts or emails are are getting the best response and the best time of day to communicate out to your customers. You might also even discover that other websites are linking to you and talking about your business.
Legions of consumers are tethered to their smartphones - and to some degree their tablets - nearly every waking minute of the day. Even on the job, many find it safer and easier to browse and shop on their smartphone than their work computer. Over half of adult mobile users go online using their mobile devices, and 31 percent say they mostly use their smartphones to go online, rather than a laptop or desktop. Mobile browsing is growing by leaps and bounds so if your website isn’t attracting traffic coming from smartphones and tablets, you may be losing out on capturing a growing portion of the digital demographic.
What People Like Most/Least About Your Site
No matter what people tell you they like about your website, analytics don’t lie. Not only will analytics be able to identify the most popular pages and how much overall time people are spending on your site, it can also identify “exit” pages; the pages your customers last see before they choose to leave. This is important to know because the longer customers stay on your site, the greater the chance that they will transact business with you. Knowing which pages they are exiting on enables you to work to identify ways to enhance those pages to keep them on your site longer.
Knowing the ratio between visitors and sales can offer valuable insight into how well your pages are turning browsing visitors into customers. Even if the goal of a page is not to create a sale, but perhaps just to fill out a form or survey, knowing how many successful conversions you received can help you pinpoint efforts and products that are succeeding as they are and those that could benefit from rethinking or recalibrating the marketing efforts behind them. Not every page on your site can convert all the time, but knowing what works and what doesn’t is often the difference between success and failure.
Generally, the most effective website is one that is easy to navigate, attention-grabbing, and informative. Building your website on a trusted domain like a .com or .net (or even .tv if you primarily have video content) is always best as these are the most recognized by consumers and by SEO. But once you get them to your brand’s digital hub online, understanding what works and what doesn’t will greatly help you increase the effectiveness of your online efforts.
How To Get Started Analyzing Website Data?
As discussed, one of the great benefits of having a website is the ability to use analytics and reporting to inform you about what your customers want. There are several services that can give you details about your Web traffic and help you track activity on your site. From, simple tools offered through hosting providers, to custom tools like Site Catalyst and Radian 6, there are options for every price and level of sophistication. The key is to understand how and what you want to measure and what you plan to do with the data you collect.
A good place to start is to link your site to a no or low cost analytics tool, like Yahoo! Analytics or Google Analytics. These types of services can help to reveal valuable information about how many visitors came to your site in a given time period, how many times they clicked on your links, how much time they are spending on your site, and more. You can also glean data about where your traffic is coming from, what keywords are driving the most traffic and what traffic is driving the most conversions and revenue. All of this is great information to help you feel confident in developing a solid plan for how to optimize your website content, keywords and more.