5 tips to improve your site using analytics

Apr. 21, 2011 | by Doug Platts

Driving the right type of traffic to your website, by whatever channel, is only half the battle for most brands. The only way to understand your customers behaviour is through looking at the analytics of your site.

5 tips to using analytics for a better customer experience on your site:

1.       Make sure your website analytics is installed correctly

This may sound obvious but you will find that a lot of sites still don’t have all pages tagged up correctly with the right analytics tag. This could be from new pages being created on an ad hoc basis without going via the correct Q&A process, it could be that you have recently launched a new site design and didn’t transfer across the right tags or maybe you have changed your tracking tags and this has not been applied to all pages. A quick way to be able to spot pages without the right track tags on them is by reviewing the referral pages within your analytics to see what referrals are coming from your own domain, review these pages to ensure the correct tags are in place.

Also make sure that all conversion points are tagged up correctly and trigger the right information, e.g. customer data, commercial values. There is nothing more frustrating than building traffic to a website and not feeling confident that the conversion points are sending the right values or triggering at all. This is essential in order to effectively show the value of the work you are doing and it is worth checking, double checking and checking again!

2.       Set benchmarks in order to know what to measure yourself against

By setting benchmarks you can then know, and communicate, what works and what doesn’t with data to back you up. Of course you need to be confident that all relevant tracking has been installed correctly (see point 1). Benchmarks can be set around traffic, the type of traffic (e.g. by channel, brand or non-brand keywords), user behaviour onsite, as well as conversions points and their data.

A benchmark can be over a week or month depending on the seasonality of your website and the data that it gathers. To be able to get a better growth measure, year on year data can paint a better picture – however if you have just recently installed your analytics then this won’t be possible but something to bear in mind in the future.

Review the impact of your activity against these benchmarks to understand what is having the most positive impact on your site and take those learnings to continue to develop your marketing efforts. Also make sure that you take into account other external factors such as seasonality and customer trends to put your insights into context. For example you may have strong visibility in Search (Paid or Organic) but be getting less traffic than a previous month but this could be down to factors out of your control affecting customer behaviour, check out Google Insights, Google Trends or the news to see what has been happening that may affect online behaviour.

3.       Set up conversion paths to understand the good and bad elements that contribute to conversion

By reviewing which conversion points have pinch points or conversely which conversion paths convert highly you can take these learnings and review the design of the pages involved in your conversion paths, down to:

  • the type of content that is displayed
  • the ordering of the links, placement of conversion points
  • required information on a page, and the amount of required information on a page
  • the amount of pages to final conversion point

4.       Look at internal search data to see what your customers can’t easily find

In an ideal world you would present the correct page to your target audience, with the right information, whether they arrived at your site via Organic or Paid search, external links or via email or display marketing. This is not always the case and your visitors may look for further information via your internal search box. By reviewing this data you can look for search term trends that may require you to focus some of your marketing efforts to increase their visibility, within your site, within search engines or relevant 3rd party sites.

5.       Set up and review data from your Google Webmaster Tools account

Don’t forget that your website analytics is not the only way to understand consumer behaviour. Set up a Google Webmaster Tools account to be able to get a different view, for example looking at the speed of your site or click-through rate from SERPs. By speeding up the load time of your pages/site visitors will get less frustrated with waiting for pages to load and will hopefully increase conversions onsite. By looking at click-through rates from SERPs you can see how attractive your site is to your target audience even before they have visited your site. More information about this can be found here.

One final point to bear in mind, if you are looking at multiple analytics packages don’t drive yourself mad looking to make all packages report exactly the same numbers. Analytics packages have different ways of measuring visitors and their behaviour, whether they are new or returning to your site. If you are using multiple tracking packages then compare them against each other by reviewing the trend of the data rather than the exact numbers.

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    Comments (5)

    • Diane Corriette

      Great tips. Benchmarks are so important - especially if you want to measure the impact of changes made on a site.May 9, 2011 07:42 pm

    • DesignSuccessU

      Analytics give you a second opinion. What you might think people like can be a lot different than what actually interests people. It is easy to see which articles are popular with analytics and this can then help us to produce more just the same.
      May 6, 2011 04:02 pm

    • Doug Platts

      Thanks Charlotte for your comments, and retweetMay 3, 2011 09:48 am

    • 5 consejos para el uso de análisis para una mejor experiencia del cliente en su sitio: | yesselylopez

      [...] Fuente: iCrossing [...]Apr 28, 2011 10:16 pm

    • Charlotte

      Some great ideas and suggestions, a lot of people use analytics without actually using it. Often only as a tool to track visitors but when used correctly, as you say, to set targets etc it can become a powerful tool. I'm retweeting :-)Apr 21, 2011 11:28 am

    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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