What a terrifying phrase. For most former students it conjures up horrifying memories of a college professor and an endless chalkboard filled with numbers and formulas. If that sentence hasn’t sent you spiraling into a boredom-induced coma please bear with me.
I’m going to demonstrate how analyzing your web statistics can enhance your company’s marketing strategies, both online and offline. With only minimal effort, your company can use web statistic analysis to gauge the effectiveness of its marketing campaigns and understand the demographics of its customers, leading to a more appealing bottom line.. The best part is that this can be done without going anywhere near one of those gut-wrenching formulas.
Luckily for those of us who slacked off during statistics class, there are a plethora of great programs to help us cheat our way to e-business euphoria. For this article, I will be focusing on the use of Google Analytics. Google offers an excellent full-featured web statistics program. It’s safe, easy to use, scalable and, best of all, free. Adding Google Analytics to your website is surprisingly straightforward: there’s no software required, and detailed instructions are available on the Google Analytics website.
Anyone wishing to dip into company funds for a program with a similar feature set can find dozens of great statistic programs currently on the market. One of my favorites is ClickTracks.
Modern Web statistics software has come a long way from the hit-counters that were a fixture on the early homepages. Today an astonishing amount of information can be gathered from the behavior of your site visitors. This data can reveal how customers are finding your site, determine what products or services they seek, understand the individual, and track how and from where they enter and exit your website. If you’re wondering how this information is useful, here is a quick scenario that demonstrates an effective way to utilize this information:
Scenario: Let’s say that your company just purchased a print advertisement in a local business publication and you would like to measure its effectiveness. Historically this has been a difficult task because, short of polling your customers, you don’t know how many calls you received from the advertisement and how many customers responded to your other forms of marketing. With the Internet and Web statistics software, we can solve this problem.
How it works: What you need to do is create a tracking URL. A tracking URL is a separate web address, something like (www.yoursite.com/inlandcatalyst). This URL will point either to your homepage or to advertisement-specific sales data. The tracking URL should be unique to the advertisement. This allows your company to distinguish between visitors who read the advertisement from your general online surfers. This easily allows you to determine what percentage of referrals you received directly from the advertisement. Google Analytics can take your analysis one step further. Google offers a tool called Site Overlay, which will visually show you what those visitors did once they arrived. You can quickly find out what percentage that looked for more information, what percentage left immediately, and what percentage clicked the contact button generating a lead.
How this data is useful
I’m sure you are already well aware of the high cost of advertising. The ability to separate the effective methods from the less effective is invaluable to any businessperson. This helps your organization cut the fat and focus its budget on the most effective advertising solutions. The Site Overlay tool data can also easily determine what products or services are of interest to the site’s new visitors. This lets you target your advertisements and track URLs to convert those visitors into customers by tailoring the advertising scheme to focus on popular areas of your site. This simple strategy will enhance the effectiveness of your advertisements and maximize the return on your advertising investment.
The same strategy we just discussed works well with both online and offline advertisements. For the moment, however, let’s say advertising isn’t in your budget. How can you use Web analytics to improve the effectiveness of your Web site? The following scenario will show you how Web analytics can increase your current sales with no additional advertising.
Scenario: Let’s pretend your company sells three products/services: apples, oranges, and watermelons. Your Web site garners about 500 hits a day but sales have been stagnated for the past few weeks. How can you use web analytics to increase sales among your current Web visitors?
How it works
The key is in understanding your visitors and their demands. As in any market, the demand for online products and services is constantly shifting. What we need to do is understand which products or services visitors seek and ensure that the most relevant information is easily accessible. To do this we will use two tools offered by Google Analytics. The first is Overall Keyword Conversion, which lists what search terms people used to arrive at your site. The second is my personal favorite: the Site Overlay tool. As previously discussed, the Site Overlay tool illustrates how visitors navigate your website.
How this data is useful: Here is a quick example of how this data can be useful: As summer approaches you may notice a spike in the demand for watermelons. The Overall Keyword Conversion tool will most likely show an upward trend in visitors reaching your website by searching for watermelon-related keywords. The Site Overlay tool can reconstruct the path taken by the average visitor to reach your Web site, demonstrating how adept the company is at taking advantage of this trend.
If a high percentage of users exit without clicking the watermelon sales link, the visitors are probably having difficulty navigating your site. In this case, it may be necessary to simplify the navigation of the site.
If you find a lot of visitors arrive at the watermelon page but exit without making a purchase it may be a good time to examine your features, pricing, and product benefits to ensure they are in line with the competition. If watermelon sales are up, you may able to increase sales even further by featuring watermelons prominently on the homepage of your Web site to take advantage of the current trend.
These are just a few different ways that web statistic data can enhance your marketing efforts. There is no one-size-fits-all way to utilize Google Analytics data; these examples are just the tip of the information iceberg. There is a multitude of options for tracking and analyzing Web visitors. Web analytics strategies can be applied to non-profit organizations and service businesses to increase donations or service inquiries and do not apply solely to e-commerce Web sites. Web analytics can aid your organization in understanding its customers and their preferences on a very basic level.
Now, if you are still awake and want to learn more about using Google Analytics to energize your marketing efforts, a wealth of information is at your fingertips on the Google Analytics website (http://www.google.com/analytics).