If your business has a website it’s probably recording valuable information that could be helping you to grow your sales – but you may not be doing anything with it. In fact you may not even be aware of it. Ten years ago the number of ‘hits’ on a website was the basic measurement of success; today’s metrics are much more sophisticated and consequently much more valuable.
There are no standard metrics that apply to all websites. Each company needs to gain specific information from analysing its website statistics and this can only be obtained by having the right equipment and software in place. Smaller firms may even be better off using a hosted web service that can collect and analyse this data for them.
But when you have details on the levels of activity on your website you can answer questions like these:
· How many people are visiting the website?
· Which pages are viewed most?
· What kinds of search phrases do people use to find your website?
· From which other websites do visitors come to your website?
· Which countries, regions and cities do your visitors come from?
· How long do visitors spend at your website?
· How do visitors navigate within your website?
· What are the peak times for visitors to access your website? What times are the quietest?
· What kind of browser do they use when they visit your website?
This is the raw information that can be collected. The value of some of it is immediately obvious – if you aren’t getting many visitors then you need to be looking at how well you are marketing the site for instance. But further analysis can yield even more actionable results.
Business to consumer (B2C) websites
If your website is designed primarily to interest consumers in buying your product or service then website activity analysis, or ‘clickstream’ analysis, can provide information about your customers that enables you to proactively meet their needs. You can analyse the behaviour of your customers when they visit your website including where they enter and leave it and what areas hold the most interest for them. You can find out which products customers relate to one another and what kinds of information they want to learn about each product. Clickstream analysis will also determine the website’s drop-off rate – how many customers abandon the purchasing process once they’ve started to buy something. And that can indicate a need to simplify or clarify the buying process so as to take customers through to the sale.
Business to business (B2B) websites
Because time is so important to everyone in business it’s essential to collect data on such metrics as how long it takes to place an order and how much time is spent searching for particular products. ‘Stickiness’, or holding visitors on the site, was once considered a measurement of success. But when the time spent is because the customer can’t easily find what they are looking for and it’s costing them money then it’s a definite disadvantage. The website’s server files can be analysed for user patterns and trends that can provide feedback about the site’s ability to meet customer needs. For example, if users are searching for something too often it can indicate that the product is too difficult to locate or is so popular it should have a more prominent link.
Content based websites
Sites that are content based need to track the number of unique visitors as well as total visits and page views; these are important metrics that can be used to promote your site to advertisers – they indicate how widely the advertiser’s product is likely to be seen. Analysing in detail how your visitors navigate on the website will tell you whether they are able to find the content they want and help to improve site navigation. Search function reports can show every keyword searched for on the website and identify gaps in content.
How this information can be used to grow sales
Website analysis technology lets you to get to know your customers through their online behaviour and this information enables your sales team to respond to the unique interests of a potential customer. Innovative software can alert your sales team when a particular prospect is online and tell them what page the prospect is viewing. The sales team can follow up this visit to the website shortly afterwards, knowing that the information is fresh in the prospect’s mind.
You can even tell which visitors are ‘hot’ prospects and identify those that are probably ready to make a purchase, as well as knowing which ones are interested in a particular product or service. Content based sites will record which whitepapers a visitor has downloaded and which subjects they’ve searched for. To get the best result from any website monitoring it is best that all data is tracked and analysed to show longer term trends. The longer the time over which data has been collected, the more likely it is that the conclusions drawn will be actionable and effective in growing sales.