Analytics: Collect The Right Data

“If you had just…” often starts a phrase of regret. If you had just left on time. If you had just bought that stock.

In web analytics, “If you had just…” nearly always relates to loss of data. Here are two ways that data loss can erode the value of your web analytics implementation, and how to fix them both.

Holes in the coverage

Unless you are doing log file analysis (which analyzes data that are automatically collected by your web server), your web analytics tool relies on a small code snippet on each page to give a picture of visitor behavior. If that code snippet is missing from some of your pages, you could miss critical information about visitors’; behavior on the site.

So, the first step of proper implementation is to have your webmaster ensure that your web analytics code snippet is placed on each page on the website. Your webmaster can search the source code of all files on your site to see if any were missed. Once you have the complete picture, it’s time to monitor critical data about visitor behavior, such as which visitors converted into paying customers.

Adding value to the statistics

Counting raw visitor counts and page hits is a thing of the past. For example, a list of keywords that brought visitors to the site is not very useful. Instead, a list of keywords that brought high-conversion visitors is a basis for a marketing decision.

To see conversion rates in your web analytics tool, you’ll need to introduce it to the page on your site that represents a conversion event (often called a goal page). For an ecommerce site, this would be the final order confirmation page. On other sites, this page could be the “Thank You”; page after the visitor fills out a form, for example.

Once you introduce your conversion page to your web analytics tool, your reports will show a new column that indicates conversion rate. Monitor your site’s average conversion rate and seek keywords and referrers that yield higher-than-average rates. Invest in those sources of visitors, and you will increase your overall conversion rates and raise the value of your website, with no regrets at all.

Michael Stebbins

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