One of the most important tools in any digital marketing campaign is sometimes the most underutilized tool as well. I'm talking about website analytics. Whether you use the very popular (and free) Google Analytics or you are using more sophisticated software to measure the activity of your website, it is vital that you are looking at these metrics on a continuous basis and have a thorough understanding of what is going on. If you don't, you run the risk of wasting valuable time and marketing dollars.
Why Are These Numbers Important?
That all depends on your marketing strategy. Let's assume for a second that you do have a planned out marketing strategy composed of both traditional and digital tactics. How do you measure campaign success? Is it an increase in total revenue, number of leads, being more profitable? When you see an increase or decrease, how do you know which traditional or digital tactics are the factor? The answer is your analytics.
Being able to identify the reasons for your wins and losses is the only way that you will be able to make sound decisions about adjustments to your marketing strategy. That is, unless you like to work based on pure emotion and go with what you feel is working best or axe that weekly email newsletter idea Tiffany the intern started 4 months ago (that is working well) because you think a weekly email is too much. Numbers do not lie.
Where Are Visitors Coming From?
There are four main sources of traffic (channels) you should keep your eye on:
- Organic Search: These are site visitors who typed in a keyword into their favorite search engine and found you via the natural results (not paid ad placement) displayed. You can dig into which keywords are driving you the most traffic.
- Direct: This is traffic from consumers typing in your website address (or URL to a specific page) into the address bar of their browser. These are likely visits from someone that has either been to your site before or directed there from a marketing piece (TV commercial, business card, postcard, billboard) that has your website address.
- Referral: These are site visitors that found your website by clicking on a link in another web page. This could be a website link in a directory website or a blog post that references your website with a link. This comes in handy when you are meeting with your Yellow Pages rep and they are touting the traffic that pricey display ad is driving to your site.
- Social: As you would guess, this is traffic from social media platforms. This traffic is broken down by platform so you can see how your social media efforts are paying off.
What Are They Doing When They Get to Your Website?
A very common question is "What is considered a good [insert any metric here]?" The generic and very boring answer is "That depends but the key is that you make progress". The truth is, the numbers are all over the board. Do some research for your industry to see if you can find some benchmarks to gauge yourself against realizing there are still additional variables that will contribute to the overall numbers.
- New Visitors vs. Return Visitors: Who are first time visitors and who decided to come back for more?
- Page Views per Session: The number of pages being viewed when someone visits your website. This can provide some insight to how engaged your site visitors are with your content.
- Average Session Duration: This is the length of time the average person is spending on your website. Another way to see if the people are liking what they are seeing.
- Bounce Rate: The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that do not click through to a second page. They come to your website and leave without diving in deeper.
Mobile Visits: Now You Have to Pay Attention
The number of visitors to your website from mobile phones or tablets has likely spiked in the past year or so... it has for everyone else. It is paramount your website looks awesome to these visitors.
At minimum, you should have a mobile responsive website that renders properly on all devices (desktop, laptop, tablet and smart phone). Additional things you can review is how quickly your pages load, making sure forms are setup well for mobile, and your navigation easy to use.
Suggested Next Steps
- Access your analytics: If you don't already have access, get access. Access can be provided to any Google Analytics account with a couple mouse clicks and an email address associated with a Google Account. This is super easy to setup.
- Look at your analytics: Not just once but on an regular basis. If you have a weekly team meeting, incorporate review of your website traffic into it. The quicker you begin looking at your numbers the more you will understand them and be able to leverage them when making decisions.
- Make some decisions: After you've looked through your data, figure out what you want to do next. This might be something you can do on your own or you may need to seek the assistance of someone that can help you better understand how these numbers apply to your business and what could be implemented to improve.
- Rinse and repeat: Repeat steps two and three over and over. The more you do, the more value you'll find in this process.