The thing I love about online marketing is how accountable it is. Whether it is with a website, social media, email marketing, or pay-per-click advertising, you can track activity, measure performance, and determine Return On Investment (ROI).
Website analytics are very important in helping businesses determine the effectiveness of their online presence and their ROI. With more and more people using the web as a means to find out about businesses and their products and services, an effective website is vital to many businesses. Measuring the right things is important to determining effectiveness.
When the web first became important for businesses over a decade ago, it was common to see counters on websites and businesses talking about the number of hits they were getting on their websites. But it turns out that these measures really weren’t very useful in determining effectiveness.
A hit is not a visitor to the website; it is a hit on the web server – each graphic, java applet, the html file, etc. If a site has 19 small graphics on the page, every visitor to the site registers as 20 hits on the server (19 graphics plus the html file). In this case, 20,000 hits translates to just 1,000 visitors.
What we really want to measure is visitors, and specifically unique visitors. But there are several other things that we can and should measure, such as how the site was used, traffic sources (search engines, direct traffic, and referring sites), which pages were viewed and how many times, where visitors are located, and what keywords generated the visits.
There are several options for providing this analysis and many of the analytics programs are free. One popular one is Google Analytics which can be added to any website.
By reviewing the analytics data, website owners can make decisions on how to invest in or change their website. The pages that cost the most in terms of time and attention might not be yielding the expected benefits. Strategies to drive traffic to the website, or even a specific page, might not be effective. For example, visitors might find your website and immediately leave.
Measuring the right things, tracking changes over time, and setting goals and objectives will make your website more effective. This doesn’t just happen – it requires planning and commitment.
Email marketing and social media can also be measured and analyzed. I’ll dedicate a future column to this topic.