Archive for the ‘web analytics’ Category

4 Tools To Measure The Effectiveness of Your Web Site

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

If you’re new to web marketing then you may not be aware of the different options you have for measuring the effectiveness of your web site. There are many different tools out there that measure everything from the pages that people visit all the way down to what sections of a page visitors are focusing on.

Each of these four tools provides different insight into what is happening on your web site. The first two tools should be part of every site. For those looking for deeper information then I highly recommend integrating heat map and A/B testing tools into your site.

Web Analytics

Analytics software tells you how many visitors come to your site, what pages they are viewing, and where are they going. You can view the paths that people follow through your site, see which pages are causing your visitors to leave, and measure the performance of your campaigns. If you have a web site, you need to have a web analytics tool setup.

Google Analytics is a great free option and one of the best web analytics tools on the market. Setting up an account is simple and adding the necessary code to your site requires little to no coding knowledge depending on how your pages are built.

Webmaster Tools

Adding Google Webmaster Tools will give you insight into how Google views your site. With Webmaster Tools you can diagnose problems on your site to ensure your pages are being crawled and that there are no errors with any of your pages. Webmaster Tools also shows you which search queries your site is showing for and how many click throughs your search results receive. Google allows you to optimize what is being crawled by submitting a site map listing. This is something every site owner should do to ensure all of their pages are being crawled. To get started visit Google Webmaster Central.

Heat Maps

Heat map software tells you where a visitors attention is focused on a page. It measures the mouse movement of individuals visiting your site. The combined mouse movements from as little as 50 visits can give an amazing amount of insight into how a page is performing. Heat maps that rely on mouse movement aren’t as accurate as eye tracking but it can give a close approximation of the most important areas of a page.

There are several heat map tools available. Two of my favorite are:

Crazy Egg: For as little as $9 per month, Crazy Egg allows you to measure up to 10 pages on your site for up to 10,000 visits. Crazy Egg was the first heat map tool that I used and have found it to be very effective.

ClickTale: Depending on the type of site that you run and the amount of data you want, you will want to give ClickTale a try. ClickTale is similar to Crazy Egg but where they differ is that ClickTale allows you to view individual visitor sessions. You can go back to a recorded visit and see exactly how individual users are browsing your site. This can be a very effective learning process but it can also be overkill for the average person managing a web site. ClickTale offers a free plan which records up to 400 page views per month.

A/B Testing

Testing applications allow you to setup A/B tests on your site to measure how changes on a page impact visitor actions. Testing is a more advanced practice but it’s one that can have significant results especially if you run an eCommerce site or a site where form completion is important.

Some example of test that you could run:

  • Long form vs. Short Form
  • Text Ad vs. Image Ad
  • Different link text to see what gets more click-throughs
  • Positioning of calls-to-action on a page

To get started, I recommend setting up Google Content Experiments. If you have a Google Analytics account in place then there is no additional code setup required. If you don’t have a Google Analytics account, then you will need to set one up.

Why Content Management Systems Need a Brain

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

If I Only Had a Brain…

Web analytics is the brain behind your web site. It knows exactly what people are doing.

So why is it that web analytics isn’t built into every content management system? I’ve worked with several different CMS – large and small – over the years and none of them included statistical tracking and visitor analysis. CMS’ are missing their brain!

Why Do Content Management Systems need Web Analytics?

CMS’ are great at managing and publishing content for static web sites. But static web sites are like your body without a brain, they just exist. Instead, they should be dynamic and by dynamic I mean, personalized to each person visiting your site. If someone comes to your site 5 times, they shouldn’t see the same home page banner each time. The CMS should be smart enough to show a home page based on the information it learned from the person’s previous visits. This goes for all of your web pages.

Completing the Web Content – Visitor Loop

To accomplish this, a CMS should include analytics data – a brain – that it uses to control content. This would allow it to discover visitor trends and display related content and promotions based on this data.

A continuous feed back loop should be created between the CMS and the visitor. This can be done by packaging web analytics within the CMS. The CMS pushes content to the visitor and the web analytics feature reports back to the CMS on the results. Now it knows what the visitor clicked on and the next page they visit is personalize based on the their previous history and the CMS’ knowledge of what content and promotions past users in the same situation responded to.

Closed Loop, Found Brain

The loop between the CMS and the visitor is now closed and several new opportunities have opened. Your site is now engaging to your visitors. It’s personalized based on their needs and it’s easier for them to find what they want. New content is recommended based on an intelligent CMS that is constantly learning with each new visitor.

Removing Bias from Your Web Statistics

Friday, September 4th, 2009

The State of Web Analytics

Web analytics applications are great at helping internet marketers and executives understand how their web site and online campaigns are performing. But there’s a huge problem. They overload us with too much information and, worse, they provide no context to the data leaving the statistics open to interpretations.

Less is More. It’s True for Statistics Too.

First, we don’t need more information. We need the right information analyzed in an unbiased context.

If you have a seasoned web analytics person on your team then this isn’t a problem. But most of us don’t have this luxury. In the age of downsizing and the growth in number of small businesses, internet marketers are performing multiple jobs. This includes sending emails, building Adwords campaigns, publishing content, updating social networks, and analyzing statistics.

With all of these tasks to perform, who has time to go through the mountain statistics that analytics applications provide?

In addition to this, having the same person or people working on campaigns and analyzing statistics creates a conflict of interest. This isn’t deliberate but we all want to perform our jobs well and this usually means that we’re overly optimistic about the results we think we see.

How People Interpret Statistical Reports

When people look at statistics they put it into their own context which is biased based on their experience and their relationship to the data. If the data coincides with projects they’re responsible for then you can image how they’re going to interpret the results.

I’ve seen this happen over and over again. It’s human nature to try to reason that the email campaign that bombed didn’t really bomb because the open rate was fantastic – hint, open rates mean nothing. Again there are too many statistics and it’s far too easy to steer the eye toward the data that looks good. So how do we find a baseline to work from that minimizes our biases?

Putting Statistics into Unbiased Context

To prevent biased reports, it’s important that rules and/or goals are established. These should be unique to each of your web sites and marketing campaigns. For example, your Google Adwords campaign is measured against conversions, your email campaign measured against new registrations, and your blog posts measured against the number of comments received. Choose the rules that match your business goals and stick to them.

Now it’s easy to determine the success of your campaigns and you’ve removed the bias from your reports. Everyone knows¬† which campaigns performed well and which ones need improvement. Plus, there are fewer statistics to interpret because you know exactly what you’re looking for and everyone is working from the same set of rules.

Rules leave nothing to biased interpretation. They provide a baseline for comparing your online campaigns. Best of all, they allow you to focus on what matters most to your business and your visitors.

What Are People Looking for on Your Site?

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Do you know what pages people are visiting? Do you know what your most popular content is?

One basic but important statistic that every web site owner should be aware of is what pages are receiving the most traffic. You need to know what people are looking for on your web site and you should never assume that you already know.

When people come to your site, they are driven by different motives. They have their own agendas and there are several reasons why one page is receiving more page views then another. You need to take into consideration what pages are linking to your high ranking pages. If you have a great page that is relevant to your audience and it’s not performing well, it could be because it is too many levels deep within your site. Page location is important along with other criteria such as how long the page has been live, has it been indexed by search engines, are there other site linking directly to this page.

Top page tracking is a simple statistic but it increases in complexity as you start to look inside the numbers. Take your time when analyzing this stat and don’t assume that the first numbers you see tell the whole story.

Referrer Tracking: How do people find your site?

Friday, August 14th, 2009

One question that every web site owner wants to know is “how do people find my web site”? Luckily there is a simple solution if you’re using a web analytics tool to track your site statistics.

The referrer stat tells you what web sites referred the most people to your site. This stat will list the URL’s of the sites who are sending you traffic. This gives you a great understanding as whether the search engine optimization you are doing is working or if the banner ad you’re running on a blog site is performing well.

Another important statistic which goes along with referrer is the keyword or search word statistic. This stat tells you exactly what a visitor typed into a search engine which led to them finding your site. You want to make sure that they keyword you’ve optimized your site for show up in this statistic. If not, you know there is work to be done. When you put the referrer and keyword stats together, you have a powerful way of understanding how people are finding your web site.

Tracking Web Site Visitors: Visits vs. Visitors

Friday, August 14th, 2009

There are several basic web site statistics you should know. The first one we’re going to review is visitor statistics.

Visitor stats tell you how many people have come to your web site. As the popularity of your site grows and your site shows up in more search results, more people will come to your site. This gives you a good guage as to how well your site is performing over time.

It is important to know that there are two different visitor statistics, visits and visitors. They mean very different things. Visitors is the number of unique people who come to your web site over a certain period of time. Visits is the number of times people visited your web site. For example, if 5 people come to your site over the course of the day, this is considered 5 visitors. Now lets say 2 of those people visited your site twice that day. This would still be 5 visitors but the number of visits would be 7.

Marketing for Mavens tracks both of these stats for you. The dashboard view shows you the number of visits you’ve received over the past year and past week. It also show you the number of visits you are on pace for the current day. This gives you quick glimpse into how well your site is performing over time and if you’re on track to continue this performance.

Overcoming Internet Marketing Overload

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

It is very easy to become overwhelmed by Internet marketing. After all, it is made of so many different disciplines, each of which could easily be a full-time job on their own. So how do you avoid Internet marketing overload?

Stay Focused

The first discipline to learn is web analytics. If you aren’t tracking your site statistics, you need to start now. Web analytics is a great place to start because all of your other Internet marketing programs can build off of it. Unless you know what is happening on your web site, you won’t know if the work you put into SEO, paid advertising, email marketing, etc. are worth the time, money, and effort you put in.

To get started you will want to track some core statistics. You can measure any statistics that you’d like but you will want to keep it simple to start with. Tracking visitors, visits, page views, and conversions would be a good start. Tracking these statistics weekly or monthly will help you determine how well your site is doing over time.

Expand Your Knowledge

Once you become comfortable tracking and understanding your web site statistics you will want to explore other areas of Internet marketing. This could involve search engine optimization, building a marketing campaign, or setting up Google ads. The option is up to you but stay focused on one discipline at a time and refer back to your statistics so you know what you’re doing is working. At this point you may want to add more tracking information to your weekly/monthly report to track your new projects. For example, tracking referring sites will help you recognize whether the time and effort you spent on SEO is working. You would see more people coming to your site from Google and Bing.

Just Keep Tracking

Tracking your statistics is the key to Internet marketing success. It is very easy to spend hours and hours of your time and never receive any results. Whenever you create a new Internet marketing campaign, make sure you have a way to track it in your report. This will save you a lot of time, effort, and money and allow you to focus on what works and retire what doesn’t.

Internet Marketing Dashboard Changes

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Two new changes were made to the dashboard this morning to assist with daily web site monitoring.

The first change allows you to track all of your web marketing campaign activity in the daily dashboard. You can see how much activity there is for the current day and lifespan of the campaign as well as click into each to get a detailed analysis of how it’s performing.

The second change will help provide more accurate dashboard statistics. You may now remove citizen statistics from the dashboard results by going into the citizen profile page and checking the “ignore stats” check box that displays when you edit a citizen. This is useful for removing your profile and test accounts from the dashboard stats.

Web Site Conversion and Promotion Activity Reports

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

I’m excited to announce that Phase 1 of our report functionality is now available. With any reporting option there is a huge amount of data and complexity that can be displayed. Our goal was to keep the reporting function as simple as possible. One of the most frustrating things with web analytics applications is that they gather so much information that you have no idea where to begin when you look at the data. With this in mind, we created a very simple first pass at a reporting page that will deliver the kind of statistics you need to make quick business decisions.

Conversion Data

The first level of data shows the number of conversions you are receiving on your web site. To track conversions, simply add the standard Marketing for Mavens JavaScript code to the page you want to track conversions on, add that page URL into the page tracking section of the Marketing for Mavens application, and make sure the conversion box is checked. Now your page conversions will show on the report page.

The second level of data is click-through data for each promotion in your account. You can see, per week, which promotions are receiving the highest level of activity allowing you to quickly assess what promotions should be removed or redesigned to improve the response rates.

conversion and promotion activity graph

All of this information has been combined into one chart at the top of the report page so you can quickly spot the peaks and see how each page or promotion is tracking over time. Additional report functionality will be added over the next couple of weeks.

Right now, the next phase is scheduled to include RSS tracking. This will allow you to track blog posts, event data, or any other RSS related activity to see if the spikes in conversions and promotion activity match with the spikes in the events and content publishing activities that you’re doing on a weekly basis. The reporting page will remain fluid for now. Nothing is written in stone so please provide your feedback. It’s the only way to ensure that we can deliver the best report functionality that you need.

Web Analytics is Dead

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Web Analytics is the one thing that all web marketers do and it continues to be the least understood. Every corporate site uses some form of Web Analytics software. Whether it’s Google Analytics, WebTrends, WebSideStory, or some other package, companies spend thousands of dollars a year on these applications. The problem is that these packages record too much information with too little time to respond. When we do respond, it’s to make small changes designed to appeal to the masses that have already been to your site and that if we’ve even interpretted the data correctly.

If we’ve learned anything in the ClueTrain era it’s that mass anything no longer works. Just look at mass advertising, mass email, and mass mailings. These marketing techniques require that you hit as many people as you can because you’re only going to reach about 3% to 5% of them. Well what about the other 95%. Shouldn’t we at least try to appeal to them? Well we can.

To appeal to the other 95% on the web, we need to be able to customize and target our content directly to them. We need to learn about our visitors as they use our sites and we need to respond to their needs in real-time, not weeks and months later when we have time to analyze our reports. We don’t have the time. Many people will only visit our sites once to decide if they want to do business with us. These lost opportunities will never come back.

We’re now well into the Web 2.0 era but our web analytics software has done little to catch up. It’s now time to look for ways to communicate as close to a 1 on 1 basis as possible. I’ve been formulating these ideas for some time now and have begun integrating them in the Marketing for Mavens web application. It focuses on communicating with each of your visitors and I welcome you to try the free beta and let us know what you think.