Having your website reach the performance levels you desire isn’t easy. It takes constant monitoring and measurement of visitor data to optimize web usage. This is where Web Analytics comes in. Not only is web analytics useful for measuring website traffic but it is also an effective tool for both business and market research.
By tracking user behavior, we can begin to see how they are interacting with our website and how we can begin to communicate more effectively to our audiences. In this article we’ll take a closer look at how Web Analytics can be utilized and what effect this has on the design process.
What is Web Analytics?
Every time a visitor reaches your site, the web server records this transaction. This data is then processed by Web Analytics software to produce detailed reports and charts. This software is most commonly available in web-based applications such as the popular Google Analytics, which allows you to see what’s going on with your website through cold hard data.
Web Measurement is the process by which Web Analytics is utilized. While hits were popular in the early days of the internet, analytics have become much more sophisticated over the years. Basic metrics – such as visits, bounce rate, referrers, and conversions can be measured after determining the outcome you want your website to accomplish.
2. Bounce Rates and Exit Rates
Bounce Rates and Exit Rates are two metrics to analyze in determining whether or not you’ve grabbed the attention of your users successfully. Exit rates will tell you how many people left the website through a particular page, while bounce rates tell you how many people left the website without visiting a second page.
The potential drawback to measuring user behavior using bounce rate is when your website is intended to find what they are looking for on the entry page, as opposed to sites with well-defined conversion steps requiring multiple page views. In the latter case, bounce rate is a good metric to use in indicating conversion success.
Where the visitor came from is a good metric in understanding why some visitors convert. A referrer is a website that sends you traffic. In addition to search engines, referrers send you traffic as well. Seek out those in your industry or network to build positive, meaningful relationships – whether it be through social network activity, blog conversations, or even writing articles in your niche. More conversions may end up coming from human referrals than search engines, as these individuals are likely in your industry and can see the need for your product or service moreso than the rest.
4. Call to Action Clicks
Your design should appeal and inspire your target audience to take action. Does the design make them feel like they are getting value from your services and, more importantly, are they clicking on the call to action buttons? Crazy Egg provides heat map reports to easily understand what users do on your site and where they are clicking. Heat Map reports let you see what’s hot and what’s not so you can make changes that increase conversion. Alternately, you can use A/B testing to help test different designs and determine which is the most effective.
If you’ve gotten this far, you know you’ve satisfied most of your visitors and gotten their attention. The crucial step now is to get them to convert. A conversion is a term used by marketers to describe the final outcome of a site visit. Don’t thwart your visitors from completed the intended action. This means optimizing your web forms for your users and making the form submission or checkout process as user-friendly as possible.
The metric for measuring conversions is Funnels and/or Paths taken. Kiss Metrics allows you to track funnels and paths to conversions. If you’re on a tight budget, Google Analytics’ goal and funnel-tracking can also be used
Many useful tools are available to help you monitor user behavior. Here are a few of the most popular:
Google Analytics is an enterprise class web analytics tool. It’ll give you insight into your website’s traffic and marketing effectiveness through user session metrics, including bounce rate and keyword frequency, amongst others.
KISS Insights is a tool that allows designers to place a small survey bar across the bottom of their websites. Curious visitors can take a peek and are then presented with a simple survey in which they can evaluate the experience design of your website.
Crazy Egg tells you where people are clicking on your site and which areas on a site page could use improvement. Crazy Eggs creates reports that allow you to visualize where people are clicking on site pages. This information is valuable for increasing conversions, for example, people purchasing your products and services or subscribing to your newsletter.
With Web 2.0 and Analytics, a culture of improvement has been laid before us. We can gauge more accurately how visitors are interacting with your content. With these tools, the ability to improve the experience your online customers have is at your fingertips. In some cases, you no longer have to guess or wonder why your site is getting the results it is. How is web analytics working for you?