web analytics
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One of the most important steps in any marketing campaign is measuring the results.  Using web analytics allows you to measure the results of your online marketing and your website’s effectiveness. Sound intimidating? It isn’t. Google Analytics is free and is a good place for most small-business owners to get started. Google also provides a lot of guidance on how to use it.

Here are tips for using web analytics to measure your online marketing results:

Set up your analytics based on the goals for your website. Those might include generating leads, actually making sales, educating customers about your product or getting customers to fill out a contact form. You may have different goals for different website pages. Be sure to measure data that’s tied to your goals. For example, if your goal is to educate customers, pay attention to the amount of time customers spend on the site and how many pages they view. Those numbers will show if they’re interested enough to keep digging for more information.

Understanding analytics terms

Here are some things you can measure using Google Analytics.

  • Visit: Any session in which a visitor interacts with your website
  • Unique visitors: the number of individuals who visit a website during a specified time period. (If the same person visits more than once in that time period, he or she still counts as one unique visitor.)
  • Page views: Each time a visitor views a page of your site, it counts as a page view. One visit may contain dozens of page views.
  • New visitors
  • Returning visitors
  • Bounce rate: This refers to the number of users who exit your site after only viewing one page.
  • Pages per visit: How many pages users view in one visit
  • Average time on site: The average time a user spends on the site
  • Exit page: An exit page is the last page of your website that a visitor views before leaving your site. If certain pages keep showing up as exit pages, it could be a sign something is wrong with those pages. Perhaps it’s too hard to find the information visitors are looking for, so they get frustrated and leave. On the other hand, if your most common exit page is your contact form and visitors leave after filling it out, that’s a positive result.
  • Traffic sources: There are three kinds of traffic sources. Direct Traffic (people who literally type in your URL), Referring Sites (people who come to your site by clicking a link on another site), and Search Engines (people who visit your site because it showed up in their search results). Direct traffic can indicate customer awareness of your website and show the effectiveness of advertising. For example, if your cable TV ads repeat a custom URL and lots of people type in that URL, that means it’s working. Measuring search engine traffic shows you how SEO effective your SEO is, and measuring referral site traffic indicates how strong your online presence is.
  • Keywords: The keywords you use in your marketing, advertising and your website may be different than the words people are actually using when they search for what you sell. Web analytics can provide these keywords, which you can then use to improve your search engine rankings.
  • Conversion rate: This is the percentage of people who did what you wanted them to do (“converted”), whether that’s registering to download a free e-book or buying a sofa.

What do these numbers mean?

The most important measurements for your website will vary depending on your business and your website goals. For example, if you want to expand your business nationally, measuring how many people visit your website from out of state, and which states they come from, could be important.

Whether your measurements indicate success or failure will also vary. If your goal is to get customers to your website to fill out a contact form, a high bounce rate isn’t a bad thing as long as the one page most visitors go to is the contact form. On the other hand, if your goal is to sell products, a high bounce rate is bad, because it means few visitors are buying.

With web analytics information at your disposal, make adjustments to your website and your digital marketing efforts to improve results. For instance, if most of your visitors come from your email newsletter and very few come from search engine results, find out why. Maybe you’re not posting on Facebook® often enough or aren’t including enough calls-to-action in your posts.

Remember, web analytics display trends over time. Review your analytics at least once a month to get a better overview of what’s happening. Then, make changes as needed, and use your analytics to see how well they succeed.