Practical Ecommerce

Web Analytics

Web analytics is a looking glass into the health and productivity of an online presence. Your online presence includes your website, your advertising, and any blogs, forum posts or web pages that mention you or otherwise link to your site. If your website affects your revenue in any way, then you must use some form of web analytics. Anything else is equivalent to driving blind.

I’ve had the privilege of helping hundreds of site owners with web analytics and one pattern emerges over and over: Those who invest in web analytics generate more profit and experience faster growth. When properly used, the tools can answer important business questions related to advertising investments, market segmentation and web design.

Through this column, I want to help you get a clear view of how your online presence affects your business. It’s fairly easy to get going, so let’s start with the first step.

Your first assignment is to get a web analytics tool connected with your web site. The traffic analysis tool that came with your Internet service provider might be great for listing hits or unique visitors, but in the long run, this is not useful data. To do true analysis, you need a tool that can qualify traffic by segmentation. You will be able to look at “keywords that brought visitors who stayed longer than 10 seconds” or “referring sites that brought visitors that made it to my goal page.” These are the stats that drive decisions.

Just do a search on “web analytics tools” and you’ll see there are dozens of excellent vendors competing for your business. Google Analytics is free, and many other tools offer worthwhile features. The tools we see most often are:

ClickTracks

Google Analytics

IndexTools

Omniture

WebSideStory

WebTrends Unica

Getting basic data from your site should be as easy as including a few lines of code into the footer of your web site. Once you are collecting data, it’s time to answer your business questions with your web analytics tool. I’ll cover this in the next column.

Michael Stebbins

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Comment ( 1 )

  1. Legacy User December 8, 2007 Reply

    Looking forward to this column – there is so much information out there about this subject that many merchants end up confused and frustrated with the whole idea. Having a clear approach to analytics and understanding it's purpose is on every e-merchant's mind today.

    — *Eric Anderson*