Thursday, February 08, 2007

Web Analytics and Goju Ryu

You may have heard me say that web analytics are crucial to examine the success of your web site. It’s an absolute. The questions and the answers that you need to base your business on are always in the numbers… be it your P&L’s, name collection efforts or your web site traffic.

It is important to take a snap shot of your site metrics to see where you are today and what needs your attention for tomorrow.

Always keeping in mind that your site is never really finished.

But what are you measuring? Are you wasting time looking at micro level pages or are you concentrating on the important simple things?

Every system from Google Analytics to Web Trends will give you more tables, charts and figures then you will ever need. In fact, I try to turn some of it off. It’s too much, and often totally irrelevant to your business.

The first thing I always ask is “What is your primary goal… what’s the big picture?”

That is where you can make the most improvement and web metrics can be the most effective. Using an extreme analogy… who cares if you have nice wood floorboards if the roof has a big leak and glass is missing from your windows, eh?

In other words, the little things that bring value can wait. Work on the big things before examining the small. If everything is perfect, then move on.

So let’s start with Visits… how many visitors are coming to your website?

Look at your total visitors or sessions… these are all of the sessions/visitors during the week or month. (Choose the time frame based on getting enough data to make a statistically valid decision.) These visits are identified in your web analytics by transient cookie values.

Then look at your unique visitors… all the unique sessions during the week or month. Unique visitors are measured according to their unique IP addresses, which are similar to your online fingerprint, and unique visitors are counted only once no matter how many times one visits the site.

So… how are your numbers?

Is it what you had expected?

I can tell you it never is… you always want more. BUT every now and then I am positively surprised… and like that perfect putt that doesn’t come until the eighteenth hole, it brings you back.

AND more determined than ever!

Next… where are the visitors coming from?

If you study the referring URL’s and search keywords you'll be able to focus your marketing efforts in positive directions.

Referring URL’s will tell you which websites are sending you traffic and conversely, which are not. You might be surprised.

You can use this to steer your time and/or change your strategy if need be. It’s an insight into your successes. Make sure you follow up with what you see. In other words, if you find out a new site gives you hundreds of referrals - contact them! Set up a swap, or an affiliate relationship – what ever it takes, right?

Of course, this insight can also tell you to stop some efforts that are not working, or at least not showing up as site visitors. If you are paying for traffic and it’s not there – time to stop that deal, eh?

What about keywords?

Knowing what search terms are being used to find your site is … a gift from God. This information should help you direct your optimization and your PPC campaigns.

Some say... all this keyword info does is confirmation of what you already know. So how is it useful?

True – it should, but I think most importantly this keyword info will tell you what is not working. Often we think we know what the keywords are in our niche and our business, but more times than not we are wrong.

(Time to get back on the soapbox)


Remember it was Claude Hopkins who said eighty some years ago “…Almost any question can be answered, cheaply, quickly and finally, by a test campaign. And that's the way to answer them - not by arguments around a table. Go to the court of last resort - the buyers of your product.”

Or in this case the visitors of your site will tell you the keywords that are important to you. Don’t let your ego steer your business!

The numbers will do that just fine, (and without having to constantly feed them.)

(Jumping off the soapbox)

Next, What are they, your visitors, actually doing on site… and is it what you want?

If your site is about sales, are they going to the sales pages, and order forms?

Are they signing up from the free eletters?

What is the traffic on those pages, and what is the conversion?

Crucial questions. This is why you MUST test constantly - to improve the location, the path, and the conversion of the visitors who come to your site. Test something new I beg you, and do it often.

What are the Top Viewed Pages?

This is what people want, and now that you know... go post more of this theme!

How long do they stay?

Remember, 50,000 visitors who stay twenty seconds is worse than 10,000 visitors who stay six minutes, eh? This is where creating value comes in. They come, they stay, the come again, they convert if, and only if you give them a reason. You give them quality content to reader - they stay for chunks of time. If nothing ever changes on site - they leave in seconds. If that happens, your traffic is a waste. Just stop and get out of business.

How was that... painless?

It's a quick hitting review. Very simple and basic… and that's the idea. Always start with rational logic and analysis of the macro numbers… more complex analysis is the next level.

Web marketing is very similar to the Five Secrets Goju Ryu,
(剛柔流 gōjū ryū), Japanese "Hard-soft style" karate. One must…

"Move quickly.
Sound, calm mind.
Be light in body.
Have a clever mind.
Master the basics."

And, of course, Create Value or Die!