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Getting Started With Online Marketing – Web Analytics – Part I

In continuation of my last post about Getting Started with Online Marketing, this post will start you on your way with web analytics. First of all, what are “web analytics?” In simple terms, web analytics represent a methodology and a set of associated tools you employ to understand how your web site impacts your business. When used properly, web analytics can help optimize your web site to improve business performance.

In continuation of my last post about Getting Started with
Online Marketing, this post will start you on your way with web analytics.

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First of all, what are “web analytics?” In simple terms, web
analytics represent a methodology and a set of associated tools you employ to understand
how your web site impacts your business. When used properly, web analytics can help
optimize your web site to improve business performance.

Performing web analytics can be quite complex and for big
ecommerce sites, it is. But two things you must know, even if you are a
relatively small or new company, is that today, you have to have a basic
understanding about how web analytics work, and there are some easy and
free things you can do today…so that is where I will focus.

First of all, you need a tool to measure you web site’s
performance. While there are many tools available, I suggest you start with
either Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics/)
or Yahoo Web Analytics http://web.analytics.yahoo.com/.
 (If you do keyword advertising, it makes
sense to use the tool provided by your ad platform provider.) Both are free and
both are very simple to deploy. Also, both companies provide a set of tutorials
to get you started. While you are installing the tool, let’s get started with
the actual process.

Analyzing your web site’s performance is a 5 step process; as
follows:

  1. Define
    goals for what you want you web site to do (easier said than done)
  2. Define
    metrics for measuring these goals
  3. Collect
    data to understand the current situation
  4. Analyze
    the data
  5. Make
    changes and go back to Step 3 (Collect Data)

In this post, I will cover steps 1 and 2; the next post will
look at how at collecting and analyzing data, as well as making changes to
improve performance:

Step 1 – Defining Goals

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Like every other marketing activity/tool/channel, your web
site must demonstrably support the business or it is wasting valuable time and
money. The only way to know how your web site is performing is to define goals
and measure them.  Defining goals for a
web site may seem like a new idea for many companies, so I suggest you start
with simple ones. Goals will necessarily differ depending on your market, but
here are some examples that can be translated into metrics and then measured:

  • Generate
    20% of total revenue from online sales this year.
  • Reduce
    the amount customers spend on support sites by 15% this year (through
    better help, search, and content, not by making them call the help
    line…).
  • Sign
    up 20,000 volunteers for a non-profit campaign within 6 months
  • Get
    5,000 people to download a demo product within the next 6 months
  • Find
    250 qualified beta testers in the next 6 months for a next generation
    product.

Step 2 – Metrics

In this step, you break down web site performance to get an
indication of whether you are on track to achieve your goals. I will use a “sales
goal” as an example to show how this can be done. Like many things in
marketing, there are many ways to “skin a cat” and this is just one example.

To achieve a level of sales, you need to create a sales
funnel, which begins with a number of leads. 
Let’s assume you already know the conversion figures for turning a lead
into a sale. (If not, this would be a good starting exercise as well.).  What you need to do is to create a good set
of qualified leads. Some relevant sales metrics that measure “lead interest,” include
the following:

·        
Bounce rate – how many
people left your site after viewing the first page – a high bounce rate usually
means one of two things – the landing page is not effective or that there is a
mismatch between the message on the landing page and the link that sent the
person to your site. In either case, a high bounce rate means that you need to
take action. A 20% bounce rate is pretty good; a 70% rate means you have
trouble. More on that later.

·        
Visitor Acquisition – this
tells you how people reached your site; for example, how many people came
directly to your site, reached you via a search engine, or were referred to you
from a partner site. Knowing where visitors come from helps you figure out which
marketing activities are effective.

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·        
Trends of basic parameters
– presents trends of how many new visitors you had, how long they spent on your
site, and how many pages they viewed per visit. Looking at these values over
time gives you an idea about whether your online activity is improving or not. These
metrics are particularly powerful when correlated with changes you made to your
marketing program.

·        
Search Analytics – if you
run Search ads, you need to look at how your ads are performing. While Search
ads analysis is not really “web analytics,” I include it because it is very
important.  You need to check your ad
performance frequently, and evaluate the benefit vs. cost of each keyword.
Also, one thing I caution is to measure how “search” vs. “content” ads stack
up. You may be paying for ads that aren’t providing much value.

There is obviously a lot more than can be measured, but this
is a good start.  Next post, we will look
at what you can do with these metrics to improve your business.

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About the author

A technology strategist for an enterprise software company in the collaboration and social business space. I am particularly interested in studying how people, organizations, and technology interact, with a focus on why particular technologies are successfully adopted while others fail in their mission. In my 'spare' time, I am pursuing an advanced degree in STS (Science, Technology, and Society), focusing on how social collaboration tools impact our perceptions of being overloaded by information. I am an international scholar for the Society for the History of Technology.

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