Web Analytics for Beginners – 12 Steps To Use Web Analytics to Improve Your Online Business (in making data-driven decisions)

Written By Clint Published April 17th, 2010

by P. Clint Rogers, Ph.D.

There has been a saying in marketing for decades that “Half of marketing works, you just don’t know what half”.

The beautiful thing about web analytics is that it allows you to have more precise data and metrics which give insights into what is working and what is not with marketing and conversion on your website.

For beginners, it can be a bit overwhelming – but once you start making data driven decisions using web analytics, it is hard to imagine life any other way. I had a friend ask me how to use web analytics to improve the website for his business. Here are some very rough thoughts I had this morning.

Ten steps to use web analytics can improve your website’s business, in making data-driven decisions [keep in mind that certain web analytics vendors provide more on some of these features than others]:

Step 1 * Determine if you have budget for a paid web analytics provider (e.g. Omniture), of if you can only afford a free version (e.g. Google Analytics). Whatever you can afford is usually worth it in how it pays for itself in the additional insights it can give you – ONLY if you are using it well.

Step 2 * If you are tech savvy, you can install basic analytics, like Google Analytics on your own by simply inserting some basic code into each page of your website. Web analytics providers give detailed instructions on this.

Step 3 * Determine of all the data which you could monitor, what are the most important elements that you want to monitor on a regular basis. What is the ultimate goal of your website? (this will be very different if you are a merchandise store vs a news outlet) Determine what metrics will best indicate if you are reaching closer to your goals or not? Make sure you have accurately tagged the action points in the code that indicate if your site is accomplishing these objectives

Step 4 * Once you are live and collecting data, and have decided which data points are most important for your overall goals, you are ready to monitor, test, and improve your website to increase the quality of traffic, the length of stay, the ease of use, and the percent of conversions. Create a “dashboard” that allows you to easily see these most critical data points.
Here are some specific examples steps to improve insights into your website traffic and business.

Step 5 * Utilize exit page and fall-out reports to identify what parts of your conversion process are difficult or uninviting

Step 6 * Increase knowledge of where visitors are coming from (what search term, web-site, bookmarked, etc) – as an indication of what they are looking for and how to increase the relevance of your messaging.

Step 7 * In addition to monitoring who visits the site, also track and improve your understanding of when they come and what they do while they are there (time spent on page, pathing traveled, etc.). Also distinguish between first time and returning customer behavior

Step 8 * Maximize available data on marketing ROI – conversion rates from different referral strategies (natural and paid search engine key-words, affiliate marketing, viral marketing, banner adds, email campaigns, etc..)

Step 9 * Easily find broken links – increase usability

Step 10 * Increase sophistication of segmentation and targeted messages – increase relevance

Step 11 * Use A/B and Multivariate Testing to derive data on hypotheses of how to improve any aspect of your site

Step 12 * Supplement the data of what is happening on your site (web analytics) with metrics that indicate your overall web presence. PageMass.com can give you a quick score in 6 vital areas of overall web presence which can tell you why traffic is or is not coming to your site in the first place. For a free score, visit http://www.PageMass.com

[Bonus: Steps for advanced users]

Step 13 * When using Flash – gauge other usability issues through more nuanced data (e.g. how many times did users scroll over an item with their mouse before clicking it, how much of the video did they listen to, how long did they wait before realizing they needed to click on something, etc…)

Step 14 * Leverage the power of the computer algorithms in taking into account wide variety of information about the user and predicting what is the best “creative” to serve (e.g. see Touch Clarity’s services – now acquired by Omniture)

Roger Due

Investing in Your Destiny® & Coaching Program - Wealth Building Summit Dallas, Texas

My name is Roger Due and I am from Albuquerque, New Mexico and I am the owner of the Monsano software company. This has been an absolutely fantastic conference. This is the best I have ever been to.