Who visits your website? Analytics will help you discover | Support business growth
Having a website for your business is one thing, but have you checked if it actually does its job?
Who visits your site? Are they spending anything? Where do they come from? What time of day or night do they visit? Did you get more visitors after placing an ad in the local newspaper?
What many business owners may not realize is that the answers to these questions are at their fingertips thanks to analytics packages, some of which are free.
Web analytics software collects data and presents it in a format you can use to make business decisions. This gives you access to information such as the number of people who visited your site for the first time, the keywords they searched for when they found you, the links they clicked on and the “hit rate”. rebound” – how long they stayed before leaving.
One of the issues that deters small business owners from analytics is the word itself. The analysis conjures up an image of computer boffins sifting through complex data. And while it’s not uncommon, the basic features of these tools (the ones the everyday user is most likely to need) are easy to use.
The most well-known and widely used analysis package is that of Google, Google Analytics. It’s free and there’s even an official YouTube channel with easy-to-follow video tutorials.
Dr Aleksej Heinze, co-director of the Center for Digital Business at the University of Salford School of Business, says you should focus on gathering information about the ‘three Vs’ when looking at your site statistics . These are: visitor volume – how many people visit your site; the value of visitors – what are they spending; and visibility – how visible is your brand to search engines, social media and other traffic sources?
Heinze says, “Think strategically about how you use your website and what you would like to know to measure the success of your website’s performance.”
Liezl Hesketh runs The Room Link, a business that matches rooms in South Africa with potential tenants. She first experimented with Google Analytics on her personal blog, so when it was time to launch her business, she was ready.
“We hooked up the analytics from day one, and it was amazing to see the stats and metrics go from nothing to a pretty busy site,” Hesketh says. “It made us realize that we could change, test and tweak things on the site and then measure them to see what the impact was.
“Initially, we outsourced everything to a small digital agency. I’m so glad we did because there was so much going on at launch that we just didn’t have time to get to grips with learning analytics. My husband got involved and took one of Google’s courses. He is therefore more expert than me, but the more I use him, the more I learn. »
Using the data, Hesketh and her husband were able to make crucial business decisions.
She says, “People access the site from different devices at different times of the day. It’s primarily a desktop during the day, but after hours it transitions to mobile and tablet. When we started, around 80% of traffic came from desktop, but that dropped to around 50%, which meant we had to improve the mobile user experience on the site, as we didn’t have no separate application. »
Another important metric was traffic from social media. “We soon realized that we were getting very low click-through rates on Twitter, but very high click-through rates on Facebook, so we focused on Facebook advertising rather than Twitter advertising,” Hesketh explains.
Katrina Gallagher of web marketing company Digitangle helps her clients develop digital marketing strategies. She says, “Analytics tools allow you to be better informed about your business, your customers, your competitors and future opportunities, but data is useless if you don’t act.
Analytics packages could be particularly useful in helping customers understand why their web traffic is taking a dramatic turn, she adds.
“Google Analytics has made it easier to find important information about your business by adding ‘intelligence events’. These highlight anomalies in your data, for example, an abnormally high or low number of visitors from a certain location, on which you can then act or trace your marketing activity.
Jeremy Greenwood, director of Greenwood Magnetics, uses Google Analytics and LeadForensics, a paid tool that tracks who has visited the site.
“They say it’s hard to tell which half of an ad budget is working and which half is a waste of money. Analytics tools help reduce unnecessary ad spend,” he says.
But it’s not all about sales and visits. A crucial metric to help you develop your future strategy is how people visit your site. With the rapid rise of mobile, knowing how many people are visiting your site via mobile devices can provide valuable insight into whether you should invest in re-developing your site to make it mobile-friendly, if you haven’t already. .
Chris Brown, head of marketing at WorkMobile, says the use of analytics tools has made a huge difference to the company’s profits.
“Using Google Analytics and other tools has allowed the team to optimize our website and more than double online conversion rates (from 1.75 to 3.75%), converting more much of our paid and organic traffic into new signups,” he says. “This led to an increase in the number of high value accounts, contributing to six-figure revenue for our bottom line.”
CrazyEgg: Provides easy-to-read “maps” of user activity, like a heatmap of where people clicked on your site.
Clicky Analytics: Gives you access to real-time data, allowing you to react quickly to user activity.
Church Analytics: also provides real-time analytics and has a user-friendly interface that might be less intimidating for novices than other software.
Kissmetrics: offers a range of useful tools for merchant sites.
If you don’t have the budget for paid tools, there are free tools, such as:
Sign up to become a member of the Guardian Small Business Network here for more tips, insights and best practices straight to your inbox.