Small business owners generally don’t have the time or need to completely understand everything about their website and its performance. They have bigger things to worry about like stock, payroll, accounting and serving customers! Usually the least of their worries is the website. However, a basic understanding of how customers are getting to their websites, and what they are doing when they get there can open the door to some significant and profitable opportunities!
Unfortunately, many small business websites do not have even basic website tracking installed. This means that they are “flying blind” and missing out on valuable, detailed information about their customers. Simply adding analytics tracking code to a website will reveal more about a website in a day than….well…anything! Before we get into that, let’s have a look at what analytics reveal about a website.
What analytics tell you about your website
Fortunately, you don’t need to be an expert online marketer to understand what your analytics tell you! Below is a screen grab of a typical analytics dashboard page – this one is taken from Google Analytics. What does all these mean?
Visits are the sum of all the individual user sessions on your site – more simply put – this is the number of times that people have come to your website.
Pageviews refers to the total number of pages that have been seen by people whilst on your site. The pages / visit metric shows how many pages were viewed for every visit to the website.
Avg Time on site shows how long people viewing your site stayed there for.
% New Visits shows what percentage of visits to your website were from people visiting the website for the very first time.
A more detailed explanation of website analytics can be found at Kaushiks web analytics demystified post.
All analytics packages give information about what keywords people are typing into search engines to reach your website. This is extremely useful for identifying trends which can help with your search engine optimisation (SEO) research. Without analytics, it is very difficult to get this type of information!
Understanding which websites drive people to your website is extremely valuable. It can show whether your social media activity has been effective in sending people to your website – or whether the coupon or deals website that you signed up for is referring visitors back to the website.
Have a sign-up form or the ability to buy product or services through your site? Setting up goals in your analytics package is an easy way to monitor how many people have completed this desired action on your website. Setting up funnels also works well to see where visitors may be dropping off during the sign up or purchasing sequence.
Which Analytics Package is best for me?
“That all sounds great but where do I get one of these website analytics packages you speak of?!” There are many different analytics tools out there but these are the most useful for a local business (we know you have a small budget don’t worry!):
The *free* (if you don’t mind Google having your competitive data), very easy to install analytics package from the Google Adwords platform. It has tonnes of features and easy to integrate with any Google Adwords campaigns or Google Webmaster account. It is probably the best option for a small business in a not highly competitive online market.
Is a paid analytics service that delivers analytics in real time and has very detailed reporting capability. There are a number of different pricing plans that can be signed up to dependent on feature set. This analytics tool is good for small businesses who want their data in real time, and who are a little more protective over their information.
Is another self hosted paid analytics tool (only $30 for one site) that has a great feature set. Definitely worth a look once you are comfortable with interpreting your analytics.
Analytics = awesome
All small businesses should have some kind of analytics package installed on their website. It is an extremely inexpensive – but valuable part of having a website. I’ve seen a local business discover that it was ranking very well in Google for a local service that they were not currently offering. It was a complementary service to what they currently offered, and related keywords were driving a lot of traffic to the website. However, these visitors were leaving dissatisfied as they couldn’t find the service anywhere on there (because they didn’t offer it!). So they decided that they would add this as a new part of their business – which has turned out to be very profitable!
It would never have happened if they hadn’t been actively checking their analytics and identified a trend in certain keywords driving traffic to their website. The moral of the story is, if your business isn’t familiar with it’s website analytics, or if you don’t have any installed – get onto it! You never know what you might discover.