Web Analytics For The Uninitiated
Web analytics tools are meant for collecting, measuring and analyzing data to understand web usage and trends. However, web analytics goes beyond telling you how many people visited your site or where they came from. It can be a powerful market research tool that can tell you a great deal about your consumers, your website as well as your product. How does it work and what is web analytics? We spill the beans.
Web analytics can be mainly categorized as onsite and offsite web analytics.
On-site Web Analytics:
In on-site web analytics, you map the journey of a visitor through your website. Right from which page they came on (landing page) through to what they visit thereafter. You can find out the amount of time spent on each page and the total amount of time spent on the website. If you run a commercial website, web analytics can help figure out which pages generated more income for you.
Off-Site Web Analytics:
Off-site web analytics, as the term suggests, is about measuring how much your brand, your industry, your company, etc., are discussed across the web. This includes monitoring blogs, social media, forums, etc. It is the key to understand what is being said about your company, where it's being said, and why. The idea is to figure if there is opportunity, what is your visibility and is your website generating a buzz. There are many online tools that can be used to do social media keyword research. Many new tools have also come up to meet business specific needs of various users.
Now that you know a bit about the different kinds of web analytics and what it can do for you, it's time to figure out how to go about the research.
How to get started:
1. Understand what you want to know:
Before you start collecting the data, it is important to identify the questions you want the data to answer. Some examples are: Where are my users coming from? How many visitors does the website get in a stipulated period of time? Are the visitors doing what they're supposed to do on the website? From which page are my visitors leaving my website? This is also a good stage to decide how deep you want your research to go and in which areas. If you plan right at this stage, you will be able to make the best use of your time as the research results are vast and analyzing the research can be painstakingly tedious.
2. Choose your web analytics solution:
Google Analytics is a good way to start. It's free and over the years has come to become a key player in the industry. StatCounter is another good one. You can also opt for various paid solutions. The data you will be gathering through these tools will be the foundation for big decisions you might be making in the future.
3. Hire a consultant:
If you are not technically inclined, it's best to let professionals scan through the data and work on the insights and reports with you. The data can be vast and overwhelming to look at. A professional can read the data with a different perspective and hence give you better insights. This can help you make decisions that can enhance the user experience on your website which will eventually lead to your website being more efficient. You don't need to hire full-time resource for this job. A virtual web analytics consultant can be a good investment in the long term.
So there you have it. The basics on web analytics and what you need to know to get started. Track away...