How to Benefit from Web Traffic Analysis

Understanding how users navigate, purchase from, and make use of a Web site helps e-commerce decisions. Here, Matt Greene form explains how to benefit from Web analytics.

Understanding how users navigate, purchase from, and make use of a Web site is an important task. Web sites reach viewers through returns from a search engine, site ads, links in an e-mail, and word of mouth. To more fully understand whether a Web site is serving its goals, it helps to know the site’s traffic patterns. In this article, I explore how to use Web analytics and benefit from usable data.

Web analytics software can tell you a lot about the use of a Web site. It tracks the page views, measuring how many pages were viewed during a certain time frame, the number of visits, session data, keywords, geography, referrals, individual visitors, and hits.

Web Analytics Data is Revealing

Here is a question to consider: First, is the site effective? Make sure that the site is achieving three specific goals: acquiring new visitors, converting visitors to customers, and retaining customers through top service. Draw the data together, including Web traffic reports, demographic data, psychographic data, customer feedback, direct customer data, transaction data, affiliate data, and industry research.

Measure the site views by time: by time of day, by season, during different weather events and patterns, and on specific holidays. Develop benchmarks to evaluate effective use of the site. Match the benchmarks to the analytics solution. Some analytics programs will give the view of a dashboard – these dashboards can include the top-line or total sales revenue versus net sales, sales call quality, and the sales cycle, or the time that it takes to close a sale from your site.

Here are key some questions to ask:

Is the Web analytics program measuring more than just site hits?
Does the Web hosting solution support the need for specific data?
Can Web traffic reports be viewed anytime?
Is it real-time, or near real-time information?

Make sure that the solution keeps track of relevant, useful data. Some products, like WebTrendsLive, are designed for real-time outputs. Some analytics solutions can make personalized product recommendations on the site, and some can cross-sell products to the user based upon a user’s search trend results. Analytics providers have even begun to track mobile data trends. If the intent is to integrate mobile payment into the Web business, then mobile data trends may be useful.

Further, see how finely-grained is the analytics. Does it have the ability to measure visits to a white paper, a marketing brochure, or other promotional content? Can it track conversion rate versus abandonment rate? As Sulemana Braimah notes, “Conversion rates indicate the relationship between ad clicks and consumer action” (Online Marketing Campaigns). Think carefully about the needs for this site.

Types of Analytics Software

If the Web site is brand new, you can try out some of the free Web analytics tools, like W3Counter, 4Q, and CrazyEgg. Other leading industry Web analytics providers include Coremetrics, Google Analytics, and Omniture. The industry now has its own professional association, the Web Analytics Association, which tracks industry trends. These are resources that can help with making procurement decisions and to learn about Internet marketing techniques for a Web business.
Forecasting for Site Edits

Finally, analysis of the Web traffic patterns can help make forecasts for the business. For example, the analysis can identify prospects, people who have responded to marketing, but have not yet bought a product or service, customers who did indeed purchase a product or service, and advocates, or people who promoted your product or service. Review the order rate, or average number of orders per buyer of your product or service.

Web traffic pattern analysis can help with the design and create Web pages that serve specific objectives for a Web site. Whether creating an e-commerce page, a non-profit site, or an informational resource, Web analytics is a technique that can optimize the use, navigation, and development of your Web site.