chapter 12

Learn from Web Analytics

Knowing why visitors on your site are purchasing or not purchasing your products could literally mean the difference between staying alive as a business and growing, or dying an early death with no sales to your name. Analytics (for short) will show you what your customers are doing on your site, on which web pages they leave your site, and in some cases how long they have been a customer. 

Measuring Website Traffic

The most common “barometer” that analytics provides is that it can measure how much daily, monthly or yearly traffic your website has. Many website owners tend to focus on this macroscopic metric to determine how well their site is performing. This can be a deceptive metric to focus on because it doesn’t necessarily tell you if your site is increasing revenue, average order size, or returning customers – which tend to be more important metrics to watch when running an ecommerce business.

You can easily build more website traffic simply by paying for Google AdWords traffic and send it to your home page, or by posting lots of engaging blog posts. This doesn’t necessarily mean it will translate into sales. The beauty of good website analytics is that it can clue you into what does and does not work in terms of growing your online business.

Basic Analytics and Web Stat Software

Almost all websites will come with a default “website statistic” software package that is already installed. Usually you can access these statistics through your website control panel. The two most common web statistics packages are Webalizer and AWStats.

Both of these web statistic packages are pretty bare bones. They will tell you the number of visits and what the top entry pages are. They also go into some basic geographic demographics and what websites are your top referring sources. 

The one major advantage of both Webalizer and AWStats is that is reads your website’s log file - so it counts every visit. Other analytics packages use a JavaScript snippet that you place on your webpages to detect traffic. These programs only detect traffic of visitors that have JavaScript enabled – which is approximately 95% of the internet browsing population.

Google Analytics is the most popular free JavaScript based web analytics solutions. It provides a lot more depth and clarity as to what visitors are doing on your website. It can detect:

  • What city your visitors are from.
  • Virtually unlimited amount of entry pages and exit pages.
  • The average duration visitors spend on your site. How many people “bounce” away without ever looking at another page of your site. 
  • You can find out where nearly all your website traffic comes from. There is no limit on the number of referring websites, search engines or social media sources.

Landing Pages

A very useful report to look at in Google Analytics is your top landing pages. For ecommerce it’s a great way to see your most popular entry pages and also to learn how visitors found those pages. For your top landing pages, ask yourself:

  • Was it because the webpage naturally ranks high on Google?
  • Are you driving most of your PPC (pay-per-click) traffic to that page?
  • Is another website linking to it?

To find out this information go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages and be sure to click on the “Secondary Dimension” button and select “Source”.

With this information, you can make decisions like:

  • Improving the SEO of pages that create more profit per order.
  • Reaching out to other websites to link to certain webpages.
  • Change the page copy to “sell” better – assuming they are not performing up to your expectations.

Be sure to also check your top content to simply see what pages on your website get the most views. They may not necessarily be your top landing pages.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate measures how many visitors come to your site and immediately leave. If you have a high bounce rate, that usually means visitors are not finding what they are looking for or your offer just isn’t for them. 

For ecommerce this can be a tricky metric to understand. A high bounce rate may mean that you have a lot of shoppers comparing prices and leaving, or perhaps you’re not providing enough information for the visitors to purchase. However, if you have an enormous inventory, then chances are you’re naturally going to have a high bounce rate since you might be attracting a lot of visits from search engines.

One trick you can try is to employ live chat software to ask visitors if there is anything they need help with during their visit. This may clue you into what is causing visitors to bounce.

Customer Tracking and Advanced Metrics

There are analytics packages available that do more comprehensive customer analytics for ecommerce retailers. For example, KISSmetrics provides special ecommerce tracking that can help you with:

  • Conversion Funnel Analysis – For instance your checkout process can be seen as a conversion funnel. Customers enter the first checkout page with their shopping cart full and a certain percentage of them leave your site as paying customers. Conversion funnels help you identify which step of the checkout process seems to cause the most friction for your customers. By knowing this, you can fix possible issues that hopefully make checkout easier or less confusing for your customers, thus yielding more sales.
  • Average Order Value – Being able to quickly see how your average order value varies over time is very helpful for etailers. Ideally, you want to increase your average order value as you continue to grow your business.
  • Lifetime Value Calculations – As you grow and you become more invested in retaining customers, it’s very helpful to calculate the lifetime value of your customers. That is: how much does the average customer spend with your business during the entire lifetime they are a customer? Knowing this value helps you calculate how much you can spend on marketing and advertising.
  • Real Time Analytics – Having a viewport to see how individual customers navigate and take actions on your site in real time is an extremely helpful tool. This bird’s eye view helps you quickly identify any trouble zones visitors may have navigating your site or during checkout.

Spend Time with Your Analytics Software

Analytics gives you a record of what’s going on your site 24 hours a day. By spending time in your analytics account you can make great gains in terms of how to fix your website and grow your business. So the more time you devote to digging into your analytics, the more insights you’ll come to. In the analytics world there is a saying that says without analytics, “You’re driving blind”. So don’t crash, do your due diligence and keep at it, who knows how quickly those insights will translate into real-time sales to get your business off the ground.

Next chapter

13. Be Accessible on Mobile Devices

2 min

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