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Establish Business Goals for Your Web Site

Before you can analyze your Web site, you need to define your business objectives. Say you have a Web site that specializes in classic car customization services. The first thing you want to do is measure the amount of sales generated on your site. That’s easy enough — but there are other activities that need recording as well. For example, you can record e-mail newsletter signups, file downloads, RSS subscriptions (news feeds that automatically show updates to a site that offers one), and user account creation.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to measuring success. Goals differ based on what your Web site does and what you want users to do once they reach your site. For example, your custom car site would be tracking different user actions than a political site that wants people to sign up for a newsletter. Many advancements have been made in analytics, so if there’s something you need to track, you can do it with an analytics program.

You're probably like most people building commercial sites: A Web site is a key component of your business, and you need to be making money from your site in order to be successful. The common adage is true: You have to spend money to make money. However, you need to be spending money in the right places or you might as well be setting the cash on fire. So, what is it that you want your Web site to do? This should be a fairly obvious question, but in order to accurately do Web analytics for your site, you need to know what it is that gets you conversions. It's extremely important to define your business objectives.

There are four basic classifications for commercial Web sites: e-commerce sites, content sites, lead generation sites, and self-service sites. Below are some basic goals for the four types of commercial Web sites. You can use this information in defining your own business objectives:

  • E-commerce sites. The objective with e-commerce is to increase your sales and decrease your marketing expenses. Basic measures include sales, returns and allowances, sales per visitor, cost per visitor, and conversion rate. Advanced measures include inventory mix, trend reporting, satisfaction, and RFM (recency, frequency, monetary analysis).

  • Content sites. The objective here is to increase your readership-level of interest and time the user spends on the site. The things you measure are visit length, page views, and number of subscriptions and cancelled subscriptions.

  • Lead-generation sites. Here the objective is to increase and segment lead generation (things like newsletters). Basic measures include downloads, time spent on the site, newsletter opt-ins, reject rates on contact pages, and leads-to-close ratio.

  • Self-service sites. Finally, the objective here is to increase customer satisfaction and decrease customer support inquiries. Basic measures include a decrease in visitor length or fewer calls to a call center, as these are measures of customer satisfaction.

With clearly defined objectives and a good analytics tool, measuring your Web site’s success becomes a whole lot easier. Your objectives state what you want to do with your Web site or your marketing campaigns.

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