Analytics are an invaluable tool for running a website, but what are Analytics and why should you put them on your website? A feature rich and effective analytics service provides many benefits, including the feedback and clarity you need to measure effectiveness of marketing campaigns while being able to ensure you are offering a great experience with relevant content to your sites visitors.
Analytics software performs the task of keeping a constant watch on your website and recording data which you as the owner of the website can then use to run reports or review. The information that Analytics software can capture generally includes information such as:
- Content - which pages or content on your site has been viewed (Duration of time spent, how many pages visited)
- Referrers - where has the visitor been referred from to find your website (Search Engine, Direct Traffic, Social Media, Backlink etc)
- Customer Demographics - Some general information about customers Country, Operating System, Browser Type.
Why Are Analytics Important?
Having analytics implemented on your website is a fantastic tool for feedback, in other forms of business you may get this feedback through a customer verbally expressing their opinions, a faulty product picked up through a high return rate and you can judge your peak periods of trade by looking at how much is sold at different times of day.
When running a website without some from of analytics it's like working blind, you are providing a service or information on your website and have no feedback channels or means of knowing how effective it is - you may not even know whether your website is getting any visitors!
This is why it is important to have an analytics program in place on your website, it will do all of the hard work for you by monitoring and recording how many visitors your website gets, when the customers visit, how many times they return, what content is viewed most and so on. By having this information at hand it allows you to easily review and use to optimise your offerings.
Using the Data
On the most basic level, analytics will allow you to see how many visitors you are getting - it's nice to know your site is being viewed, especially if it has cost you a lot of money! There is so much more to what it can do for you though. Here are some examples of how implementing an analytics service can provide you with added value:
- Advertising - Should you chose to deploy advertisements on your website, the first thing an advertiser will want to know is how much traffic your site gets to know if their money will be effectively spent.
- Demographics & Segmentation - Having data on which countries your visitors are from will allow you to tailor your offerings to ensure they are relevant to your visitor.
- Platforms - Analytics will give you information on what operating systems and devices are being used to access your site. If you have a large quantity of mobile devices being used to view your content - is your website set up with a mobile responsive design to make the most of this?
- Track Campaigns - You don't want to spend all of your marketing budget and not have a way to measure it's effectiveness. Utilise a specific landing page per campaign so you can track how much traffic you receive from it. Or see if the email newsletters you have been sending are actually effective?
These are a few points to highlight some of the things that can be done when you have access to data about your website. Your needs may and will most likely be different, however the once you have the data what you can do with it is completely up to you and what you need.
How to Implement Analytics
Implementing Analytics on your website will generally be a simple and straight forward process and if you are using a common content management system such as Squarespace or Wordpress for example they will integrate very easily. If you have a custom built website it may just be a matter of speaking with your website designer to implement this if you are not comfortable with adjusting the code on your website.
The most common and widespread analytics software is provided free of use by Google in the way of their Google Analytics software. When it comes time to launch a website, this is one check box I ensure is ticked before it goes live. Set up is typically a breeze, to begin navigate to Google Analytics and either create an account or sing in.
After adding and setting up a new account, you finalise the set up by clicking Getting Tracking ID, this will provide you with a screen that provides the tracking code. The information you are given will be similar to that in the image below, one is your Tracking ID - this is the UA##### number, the other is a piece of code to implement on your website.
Some content management systems (CMS) allow you to simply enter your Tracking ID and this sets up Google Analytics to communicate with your website and this is the easiest way to set it up.
Alternatively if you have a custom website or a CMS that doesn't allow you to use the tracking ID, you will need to copy and paste the tracking code into every page of your website that you want to track so Analytics can monitor activity on your website. If you are unsure about how to implement this you may need to speak with your website developer to help with setting it up.
While Google Analytics is a very adequate service and offered for free, there are also many other options available. Some offer a tiered pricing structure depending on traffic volumes while others are free. Another personal favourite of ours is offered by a company named Woopra. The beauty of Woopra over Google Analytics is the ability to access simple, beautifully presented real-time analytics. Real-time means that you get to see what is happening on your website, as it happens. The advantage here is that there is no delay between what is happening on your site and the time when you want to draw a report.
Regardless of which service you decide on implementing, the important thing is to use something. Having data available gives you information and a channel of feedback that allows you to cater to your visitors needs and wants as well as giving you customer demographic and segmentation information that can assist with building effective future marketing campaigns.
We would love to hear about what improvements you have been able to make or successes you have had with your website by using analytics software. Be sure to let us know in the comments below!