5 easy steps to truly understanding your website analytics

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First of all let’s answer this question, ‘what is website analytics?”  A good definition I often use for web analytics is “The qualitative and quantitative analysis of your website and your competitor’s websites for the continuous optimization of business outcomes for all channels, both online and offline”.  Web analytics are direct, specific and measurable.  Do not use faith in what you believe in but instead use data to measure the things that will drive revenue for your business. The benefits of performing robust website analytics are that we will increase accountability in our organization, fail faster when we are trying new things and delivering better business outcomes based on concrete data.

To begin to understand your website analytics you first need start tracking the most basic elements of activity on your sight. To do so you simply need to place a javascript code on your website provided by a free service like google analytics or yahoo analytics.  75% of the data you need are gathered just by placing this into the footer.  Typically these services help you answer the what. What are the top 10 pages visited? What are the top 10 sold products? What are the most popular downloads? To drive real improvement in revenue performance however we must answer the why.  Why did they go to those 10 pages?  Should those have been the top 10 pages? Which ones should have been and why weren’t they?  This is so important to your business and it is a must have for every marketer out there. To find out “the why” of your website’s performance you must endeavor to perform 5 key best practices and here they are:

  1. Clickstream analysis – As we mentioned above, this will tell you what is happening on your website and can be provided to you quite easily with tools such as Google, Yahoo, WebTrends, and CoreMetrics.  This will serve as the basis for your analysis, but is only the beginning.
  2. Multiple Outcomes Analysis - Ecommerce conversions - How much happened and more importantly, how much revenue did you generate? 
  3. Voice of the customer – This is typically done with a survey for about 2-3% of visitors and there are two types. 
    1. Site level surveys for measuring session experience. These are done upon entrance or exit and are usually a popup.  These are very good at understanding macro issues, big things that might be wrong such as experience, impression, navigation elements and overall effectiveness of site. 
    2. Page level surveys for measuring micro issues. These are usually part of specific pages and can be opened with a plus sign.  In page level surveys you gain information about micro conversions, transaction efficiency and overall satisfactions with individual pages on your website.
  4. Experimentation and testing – This is a key step to understanding you website in terms of what is working and what is not.  This will also give your customers a say as to how you website will work going forward, because the results will be based precisely on their behavior!  Only through experimentation and testing can you determine how to improve and optimize your website.  Typical types of testing are A/B and multi variate testing.
  5. What else? - Competitive Intelligence.  Understanding how your competitors are faring in the market place will provide bountiful insights for your business.  For example, do you know who their customers are, their demographics, and their lead sources?  The ability to understanding your competitor’s performance on the web is key to your success on the web.  A tool like Compete.com can provide just such information to you, most of which at no charge.