But whether you choose to develop a web site, send a regular email newsletter, write a blog or run a Pay Per Click campaign, you can (and should) measure the success of the online marketing campaign and your return on investment.
Google Analytics is one such tool that is free and hence widely used. But do you know how to make the most of all the data it provides?
For those newbies not using Google Analytics, you can visit www.google.com/analytics and set up a free account. When you add your website address as a profile you will be provided with some code to place within your home page so that analytics can track what is happening and generate a series of reports. These reports let you see how visitors are interacting with your site, set goals and make improvements to increase conversions and the overall effectiveness of your site and online marketing.
Here are just some of the useful features and data:
You can use a single analytics account to measure more than one website through adding multiple Website Profiles. This is useful if you have more than one domain name registered or you manage more than one website or blog.
Apart from just more traffic, you can set more specific online marketing goals and Google Analytics can help you measure these goals. For example: you may want to increase the number of visitors who complete a sale, subscribe to your newsletter, download your e-book or simply fill in the enquiry form on your site. Google Analytics lets you set these goals within your account, then provides the code to place on the relevant page to allow tracking and reporting of the results.
Apart from measuring the total number of visitors to your site you can also see how many pages each visitor is viewing, how long they are spending on your site and the number of new visitors versus returning visitors. If the main goal of your site is to attract new business then you’ll aim for the maximum number of new visitors but if you are trying to build a loyal subscriber base then you may want a higher percentage of returning visitors e.g. on a blog.
The bounce rate measures the number of single page only visitors. That means the number of visitors that left your site from the page they arrived on. If this percentage is high then your site doesn’t encourage people to look further, browse or take action. In this case, look at the most common entrance page visitors arrive on, tweak this page to make improvements and then check whether your bounce rate is reduced.
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The benchmarking feature allows you to get some idea of how your website data compares to other sites of a similar size or in a similar industry category.
If you are introducing large downloads such as video files to your site you might be interested to see the connection speeds of those visiting your site. For example: at the time of writing I was able to see that 4.41% of visitors to my website in the last month were on a dial-up Internet connection!
This group of reports can give you an overview of traffic to your site or more specific reports for Direct Traffic (that is someone who either typed in your web address or had it bookmarked), Search Engines, other Referring Sites or Adwords. This is particularly handy if you are working on your search engine optimisation, building up links with other websites or paying for online advertising.
The content reports show which pages on your site are the most visited as well as the top entrance and exit pages. A common website problem is a large percentage of visitors arriving on the Home page and leaving without going any further. One of your goals might be to improve this by tweaking your home page to make it load faster, look neater and have clearer calls to action. If you are launching a new product or service you might add a new page to your site and then work to increase its popularity and the number of people arriving on this page.
The Site Overlay feature opens a new window with your website shown inside and overlays data about the percentage of people that click on each active hyperlink. You can navigate your site as you normally would and see data for each page on your site. This is a really handy feature to see where you visitors are clicking.
This new feature allows you to split your data into segments to do more meaningful analysis. For example: you may be running an online marketing campaign to increase sales from outside Australia. You can segment out all visits that resulted in a sale and were from outside Australia. You can also view data side by side on the same screen and compare it. So in this example we would be comparing conversions outside Australia against conversions inside Australia.
This is just a sample of the data provided by Google Analytics and what you might use it for. How do you use Analytics?