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You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure

An introduction to website analytics.

A website is one of the most considerable investments a business will make. Your site may perform customer service, drive sales, or your entire business may be reliant on your website. So are you monitoring and measuring the performance of this investment the same way you would for sales and customer service staff?
With the fierce competition on the World Wide Web it is simply not enough to have a website built and forget about it. You must ensure that it is performing well and make ongoing improvements and adjustments based on data at your disposal.

How do I collect and view this data?

There are a wide range of website analytics packages available, however, the most commonly used and most affordable (carrying a price tag of $0) is Google Analytics – www.google.com/analytics.

If you’re comfortable with code, it is possible to install Google Analytics yourself, just go to the website listed above, copy the code snippet provided and paste it into the template of your website where indicated. If you’re not so technically inclined, never fear, anyone comfortable with HTML should be able to assist you in the installation. After it’s installed you just login with the email address and password used during installation at the address provided above.

What does it all mean?

Once you have Google Analytics installed, you’ll have more data at your fingertips than you know what to do with. Google Analytics can tell you where your visitors are from, how they found your site, how they interacted with your website, what device they were using and so much more. This can be a little overwhelming at first, so to make things easy, here’s the numbers to focus on when you’re just starting out.

Unique Visitors – This is the number of individual customers that came to your website and does not count them again if they visit your site multiple times (this is what ‘visits’ indicates). This is the number of potential customers that visited your website within your designated time frame.

Avg. Visit Duration – Have a look at how long your customers are staying on your website, does this seem like long enough to make a purchasing decision or move to the next step in your sales cycle? Short visit duration may be an indication that you don’t have enough content, or your content is not engaging enough. Generally your website visits should be fetching at least two minutes a session, but this will vary per industry and market.

Bounce Rate – This is one of those rare instances where a lower number is better. A bounce is how many times a visitor enters your website and then leaves immediately without navigating to another page on your website; it is essentially a one page visit. This can be an indicator of a number of things including:

  • Your website isn’t what they were looking for, in which case your description may need updating or you may need to communicate your offer more clearly;
  • the design of your site is confusing and the visitor isn’t clear what to do next, in which case you may need to have your site assessed by a professional; or
  • the visitor may have been expecting new content on the site but it looks the same as last time, in which case some fresh content may improve this figure.

What next?

Once you’ve mastered the basics, there are many advanced features at your disposal such as segmenting the analytics to measure certain groups of visitors, setting up goals to measure conversion and return on investment and the ability to run split testing to see which version of a page your visitors like better.

Google have an online help section to move you through these features, just visit https://support.google.com/analytics/. Otherwise, consider speaking to a professional about setting up regular custom reports to be delivered straight to your inbox, giving you more time to think of ways of improving your website and your business.

This article is written by Luke Hodges, Senior Marketing Consultant, Australian Business Consulting & Solutions and Trainer and Coach for the Digital Enterprise Program - www.depgreatersydney.com.au

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