You host a party at your home but spend the entire evening sitting in a corner blindfolded and with earplugs in. Was your event a success? How many people came to the party? Did they stay for long, meaning they probably enjoyed themselves? Did they wander around your house and yard or hang out in just a few rooms? (One of them being the kitchen, of course!) The answers to these and similar questions are what you might call “party analytics.”
For businesses, the party takes place on their website—or, at least, they hope it does. That’s why having a good understanding of the visitor data you need to collect and how you should go about evaluating it is vital. If you’re doing the digital equivalent of sitting in a corner seeing and hearing nothing about your visitors, you have no idea if your website is valuable to customers and prospects or if it’s just taking up space out there on the web.
How the Data You Collect Can Benefit Your Company
It would be hard to argue that knowing more about your website visitors would be a bad thing. But how, specifically, can that knowledge help your business? There are several ways that accurate web analytics can benefit your company. Here are just a few:
- You discover that a page you think is key to understanding your offerings is only visited for a few seconds by most visitors. The likely reason is that the page isn’t giving people what they’re looking for. With a little experimentation, you might find that changing large blocks of text to bullet points attracts and keeps the attention of your prospective customers.
- You learn that one of the most frequently downloaded pieces of content on your website is the only customer success story that you’ve ever created. Maybe it’s time to produce a few more.
- You determine that the keywords people type when searching for products and services like yours are rarely used on your website. By making some changes to the language you use when talking about your company and your offerings, you can move up in the search rankings and help people find your site more easily.
Ultimately, web analytics help you optimize your website so that it’s most visible and most valuable to your audience.
10 Types of Data You Should Track
Every business, and every business website, is unique. Consequently, the web analytics you should track and the importance you give to each of your chosen metrics will be unique to your company, as well. However, at a minimum, you should track these 10 types of web and app data:
- Users. These are visitors to your website—in other words, people who use your site. A large number of users alone doesn’t guarantee success. You need to attract the right kinds of users, get them to take the right actions on your site, etc. But if you’re doing things that continue to increase the number of users on your site, that’s typically a good thing.
- New Users. A new user is someone who hasn’t visited your website before. Getting more new users to visit you online is very helpful. Not all new users will become customers, but the more traffic your site gets, the more opportunities you have to make sales.
- Sessions. Google defines “sessions” as “a group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame.” The definition goes on to note that “a single session can contain multiple page views, events, social interactions, and ecommerce transactions.”
- Number of Sessions per User. This is a measure of how many times a specific user has visited your website. This information might be helpful if, for example, you learn that the average number of visits before someone makes a purchase is four. This can help you define a marketing strategy that gets prospects to your site at least four times. It might also make it clear that focusing on getting business from people who’ve only visited your site twice isn’t a good use of your sales team’s time.
- Pageviews. Pageviews refers to the number of pages someone visits as they navigate around your website. Trending upward in the average number of pageviews is a sign that you’re making your website more informative and interesting for users.
- Average Session Length. Another indicator of user interest, if your average session length is increasing, it means people are taking more time to review the information on your website.
- Bounce Rate. The lower your bounce rate, the better. A visitor is considered to have “bounced” if they arrive at your website and leave almost immediately. A high bounce rate can be caused by many things, from having an unappealing website to using advertisements and outreach that mischaracterize your offerings and are attracting people who quickly see that you don’t have what they need.
- Conversion Rate. Someone “converts” when they take an action you are encouraging them to take. For instance, they provide their contact information to get on our e-newsletter distribution list. Or, better yet, they make an online purchase. Needless to say, any changes you can make to your website to increase your conversion rate are good ones.
- Keywords. Other metrics may be showing you that people are finding your website, but knowing how they’re finding you can be very useful, as well. For example, if you offer products that fall into three different categories but most of the keywords that are leading people to your site relate to only one of those categories, it tells you that there’s room for improvement and that you should do more to promote the other two categories.
- Top Pages. What are the pages that are most interesting to your website visitors? Having that information can help you make smarter decisions about site updates. For instance, you might put additional calls to action (CTAs) on each of your five most visited pages to encourage people to make a purchase.
How to Collect and Assess Web Analytics
There are countless tools available for monitoring your website, gathering user data, and assessing it. Many companies use Google Analytics, Google Adwords, Google Webmaster, and Google Optimize as their primary sources of analytics data. However, there are many other third party tools that can provide powerful insight such as HotJar, Adobe Analytics, and Salesforce. Many social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are another source of information on your audience.
The key to success is finding the solutions that are right for your business, deciding what metrics you’re going to track, and doing so consistently as you make carefully considered enhancements to your website. The insights of web development experts who understand web analytics and can help you create a site to meet your specific needs is essential here. In collaborating with a digital solutions provider, you can maximize your website’s value to your audience and its impact on your revenue.