Web analytics allow businesses to know, track, and understand their customers in more detail than ever before. The trick is knowing what information to look for and how to interpret and use the data. In fact, using analytics can be compared to sending out a customer survey and getting a 100% response rate.
Paid services, such as Adobe Omniture, and free ones, such as Google Analytics, both provide marketers, retailers and web designers with a wealth of information about who is visiting their site, when, and why.
There are three basic categories of useful information that come from analytics: how visitors get to your site, the keywords they use to get there, and what they do once they’re there. Here’s an overview of each:
1. Linked Up
All web analytics programs give information about the links visitors click to access your site. Studying, tracking, and analyzing these links will let you know which of your link-building efforts are most effective.
Are visitors coming from a guest post you wrote on a blog? From an article about your business? From another one of your sites? Knowing where they come from lets you do more of what works.
2. Keyed In
Search terms, too, are valuable in analyzing your web visitors. These terms, and the relative frequency of their use, gives you hard data about what your customers are looking for, and how they’re searching for it. And once you know what they’re looking for, you can use these keywords in your marketing copy to enhance your SEO operations.
3. Following Them Around It’s almost like having a video camera in a store: web analytics data lets you track exactly where visitors go, how they navigate your site, and what they’re most interested in. Knowing the path your customers travel through your site can help you to see what products are most popular, what call to action buttons are most effective, and what you might be able to do to enhance your marketing efforts.
Web analytics data, when used well, is more valuable than information provided by a customer survey. The good news is that obtaining this data is quicker, more reliable, and less intrusive than sending out a survey.
So what are you waiting for? Open up your site's back door, take a look at your web analytics dashboard, and see what you can find. You might be surprised by the wealth of information that's right there for the taking.