Getting started with Web analytics software can be a simple and straightforward task, usually involving not much more than adding some script to your site, usually in a header or footer that appears on every page. But getting the most out of analytics can mean a lot more than firing up reports and looking at how much traffic the site gets. Here are a few best practices.
More Internet Insights
Metrics such as bounce rate and page views seem simple enough, but look past the easy conclusions. A high bounce rate--meaning how quickly people leave a site--may look like an indicator of a failed site or product page. Yet if that product page results in good sales numbers, it may be a very well-designed page that lets visitors achieve their goals very quickly. Or it might be a fine site with a flawed marketing effort--attracting the wrong type of shopper for the content. Likewise, a page with low views may be unpopular, or it may be an effective jumping-off point to connect with more valuable content for a small-but-important audience.
Dig Deep And Test
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Modern analytics products make it possible to regularly test the performance of a site or page, trying out different designs and campaigns. Use an A-versus-B testing approach to serve different site designs or product campaigns and quickly find out if new designs or content are delivering results.
Also, remember that there are multiple ways to segment visitors and see how different types of users react to your site. Aside from e-mail campaigns and unique marketing referral links, visitors can be segmented by when they visit, where they are coming from, and what they do on the site.
Learn From The Past
With modern real-time analytics tools, it's easy to become obsessed with what's happening right now on your site. But historical data is vital as well. Regularly dig through older site data to spot visitor trends and see how content and products perform over time. Much like a movie that does poorly on opening weekend but turns into a sleeper hit over successive weeks, some site content may seem like an initial failure but turn out to be valuable over a long period of time.
Analytics is a valuable tool for evaluating online properties, but it's strictly quantitative. All sites should also be looking for qualitative input, and the best source of this data is your visitors. Use real-time survey tools or e-mails to registered users to get feedback from actual visitors.