Marketers and business owners are typically keen to know how their website is performing. They may have Google Analytics as well as other tools set up, but find it difficult to know what to do with all the data at their fingertips.
In this article we will be going over three tips for using your website analytics data effectively to make decisions that will grow your business. We’ll also be looking at some of the most common mistakes that can happen with a limited understanding of web analytics.
First we’re going to focus on some key information about web analytics …
Web analytics is the tracking and recording of all visitors to your website, including what those visitors looked at page by page.
The most common use of web analytics are to:
People have a choice of engaging with your website, or the websites of your competitors.
Web analytics provide you with the opportunity to identify the reasons why people aren’t engaging enough with your business. This stimulates you to make the beneficial website and marketing changes that will gain you more business.
From the free Google Analytics through to the wide range of paid analytics systems, none of them are perfect – particularly if time hasn’t been invested in focusing on analysing the analytics data in detail.
Many people struggle with Google Analytics, mainly because it doesn’t make it easy for a non-analytics person to understand how to utilise the data.
People also struggle with other web analytics systems for similar reasons.
Most people would welcome hand-holding to show them where to start with the most important information within web analytics.
That’s what we’re going to try to help you with here, by focusing on what we see as the three most important web analytics data types that will help you focus on growing your business. These are just a tiny element of how you can benefit from web analytics but are good as a starting point that will get you interested in digging deeper into your website visitors statistics …
What do we mean by ‘top landing pages’?
We don’t mean the pages that have the most people land on them.
We mean the pages that are potentially most useful to you, that had people land on them.
For example, many websites will see their home page as being a top landing page, but that information is relatively meaningless.
Because people enter the website on the home page for many reasons, including:
Taking this example below, although the home page has the most people landing on it, the focus should be on the pages that offer CCTV drain camera hire and videoprobes & borescopes hire, because they are services pages that people are landing on:
In that example above, the company should be comparing the levels of enquiries gained to the numbers of people landing on those popular website pages.
It’s worth noting though that some of those who landed on that page will not be in the target market. For example, there may be visitors from countries that aren’t served by the business.
It’s recommended that you look at your top landing pages with this in mind:
Is it natural/expected for the person to move onto other pages of the website?
Here are some examples:
Are there images and video that effectively promote what’s on offer?
How does your landing page compare to the equivalent landing pages of competitors, and what can you do to improve your own?
If you have blog/article landing pages that have strong levels of visitors, what could you be doing to gain more from those visits?
This is similar to tip 1 but focuses on the pages that people visit within your website overall, because many of your website visitors will land on one page and navigate through to other pages, including products and services that you offer.
Your interest in pages viewed overall is so that you can compare that number to the levels of sales and enquiries you’ve received about that product or service.
This example below shows the overall levels of visitors who got to specific pages within a website over a 30 day period:
This example (taking from our A1WebStats website analytics system) goes deeper by showing someone from an identifiable company (The Aerospace Corporation) who landed on the home page from a Google organic search and navigated through to a specific type of equipment page:
Ideally, the person getting to that page would have found enough on the page to make them want to get in contact.
Unfortunately, most websites fail to achieve that.
All website analytics systems will show a basic view of how many people got to each page of the website, but may be limited in how much they allow you to refine that view. For example, you may only be interested in visitors who got to a specific product or service page in the past month, but who were only from the countries that you sell to.
Here’s why it’s important to refine the data that you are seeing.
Taking a hypothetical example, the view below shows that the Food & Drink page (of an A1WebStats customer) had 83 visitors within a 30 day period. If that website owner had five enquiries related to that service offering then that would imply a visitors to enquiry success rate of 6%
However, that thinking would be misleading because the company only sells to people in the UK.
This means that it’s beneficial for them to refine their data to only include UK visitors to that page, which gave them a number of 50 visitors. When they compared that number to their five enquiries, their enquiry success rate changed to 10%, which looks much more favourable than the 6% view.
Why is this important?
Unrefined data doesn’t allow for all the ‘noise’ website visitors who look at website pages. That noise would include:
When you remove that noise you will get a much clearer picture of how well (or not!) your website pages are converting useful visitors to enquiries and sales.
Unfortunately, most website analytics systems aren’t as detailed as A1WebStats and so comparing visited website pages to levels of sales and enquiries will always paint a worse picture than is actually the case.
However, even if you only have the basic view that Google Analytics provides, if you’re focusing on visited pages vs sales & enquiries, then you are ahead of some of your competitors who won’t be focusing on such useful information.
The third tip is one where Google Analytics can be useful, if not perfect.
Here’s an example showing the overall bounce rate of a website (over a 30 day period):
That’s an overall ‘bounce’ rate of 73.41%
This means that 73.41% of the website visitors went no further than the page they landed on.
The example above also shows (highlighted by the arrow) a product page that had 76% of the 25 visitors who landed on that page, also exited the website without looking at other pages.
Generally, a high bounce rate is a negative thing because it implies that people didn’t find enough on the landing page to encourage them to click further into the website.
Landing page data isn’t as simple as that though, because amongst those people who ‘bounced’ after landing on a website page, many will be:
What you’re looking out for are particularly high bounce rates because, even allowing for those four categories listed above, many of your website visitors would still have been potential customers but your website didn’t impress them enough to click onwards into other pages.
There are very few websites that can boast a very low (less than 20%) bounce rate because there will always be website visitors that fit into the categories listed above.
Here’s a question to ask yourself about the pages that people land on (and that you have a high bounce rate for):
Is there enough on the website landing page to ensure that people will take action, where the action is usually to click onto another website page?
Most websites don’t give people enough reason to continue looking at the website and so ‘bounce’ back (normally to Google to then click through to a competitors website that may serve them better).
Web analytics is far from perfect, but the business that analyses their website visitors will then be able to act on what the data is telling them, which generates strength when compared to competitors who aren’t using web analytics.
There is a lot of noise in web analytics though, so it’s always worth considering that some of your website visitors data will be irrelevant to your business and should ideally be filtered out of making any judgements about what to do next on your website.
Ideally, you would be looking at your website visitors data in this sequence:
We live and breathe the subject of analytics leading to positive changes to websites and marketing. If you would like a totally free discussion about your own website and how analytics can help you to gain more business, please do contact us.