Forrester Research recently published an article about the growth of web analytics stating that 74% of websites have some type of web analytics software installed on them. However, they also reported that (only!) slightly more than half of websites have customized their analytics software to track specific activities. This indicates a significant opportunity for many firms to improve their online marketing success.
As big fans of Google Analytics, a very sophisticated web analytics package provided free, we’re excited about the potential success of our clients by just defining online marketing objectives and configuring analytics to track performance against those objectives. We see all too often a basic web analytics installation without much thought put into specific goals or tactics to be tracked.
Lack of specific goals and tracking can lead to wrong decisions and wasted money, especially for those clients investing heavily in online marketing activities.
So, what to do?
First decide what you want to accomplish online? I don't mean just the final outcome – online sales. Sure, that’s important but you also want to understand the ingredients that result in an online sale.
Identify those important ingredients.
Maybe it is amount of time on a product page. Or, how many people who visit a product page put that product into the Shopping Cart. You may also want to simply speculate about what you think the critical ingredients are for online conversions (Be careful, here. Only speculate as a means to begin collecting data so you can begin making real decisions). Once you’ve determined your specific goals or steps, configure your web analytics to track performance of those goals and steps. By doing so, you can begin to identify what to test and how to improve your online conversion rate.
Take for example a brick-mortar retailer with hundreds, maybe thousands of products. They are making meaningful investments online doing search marketing, email marketing, some affiliate marketing and working the social media sites. Naturally, the online goal for this retailer is to maximize sales while minimizing marketing costs. But first decide what to measure. This retailer will want to measure online activity by traffic source including navigation through the sales funnel. They might also want to track activity by product or product category. This could be some valuable data to improve the efficiency of their search marketing investments. Configure analytics to measure those things and begin documenting performance each week. After accumulating some data, this retailer can begin to identify opportunities for improvement and then begin a series of tests to determine how to improve online conversions.
In summary, make sure you have a good analytics package on your website – we recommend Google Analytics. It’s very configurable and it’s free. Then, determine the ingredients you think contribute to online conversions. Configure your analytics package to track those ingredients and begin documenting results. Once you have accumulated valid data, start testing. With this approach you’ll make very solid decisions about how to improve your online marketing.