The Importance of Web Analytics to Online Marketing - dummies

The Importance of Web Analytics to Online Marketing

By David Semmelroth

Your e-mail service provider can provide a number of metrics to help you track the success of your e-mail marketing campaigns. But Internet marketing is about much more than just e-mail. Customers may end up on your website through numerous other paths, including search engine results, banner ads, popup ads, and links from social media sites. To understand what’s effective and what’s not, you need to be able to track all this behavior.

Luckily, numerous providers of web analytics and reporting are out there to choose from. By far the largest such provider is Google Analytics, which actually offers its basic service for free. You can buy more advanced reporting and analysis for a flat annual fee. Whether you choose Google or some other provider, you should have a sense of the types of information available.

On-site analytics

On-site analytics refers to the behavior of your customers once they’ve reached your website. You want to know how users are navigating your website. Are certain web pages viewed more often than others? Do users frequently leave your site after viewing certain pages? How long do users stay on your site? Does viewing certain pages more frequently lead to a purchase?

One of the more useful features offered by web analytic tools is the ability to focus on particular customer behaviors. For example, you can generate reports that compare the page view behaviors for users that end up making a purchase versus those that don’t. Or could compare the behavior of users who make small purchases with the behavior of those who make large ones.

Your ultimate business goal is to sell your product, after all, not just drive web traffic. This type of analysis allows you to explore which features of your website are actually driving revenue and which aren’t.

Off-site analytics

It’s not enough to understand what your customers are doing once they reach your website. You need to get them to your website before they can buy anything. You likely spend a good deal of time and money on various forms of online advertising, search engine placement, and e-mail campaigns to do just that. Again, web analytics tools can help you understand which efforts are most successful.

Understanding where your website traffic is coming from is particularly important. A staple of web analytics is the ability to generate reports that show how much of your web traffic comes from various sources — search engine hits versus banner ad clicks versus bookmarks, for example. Good web analytics tools enable you to view these reports at a fine level of detail. You can tell what search terms most often lead to a web visit and which social media site generates the most clicks on your banner ad.

A well-organized web analytics tool lets you track the effectiveness of your online marketing campaigns with great accuracy. What’s more, they let you do so quickly. Even the most rudimentary platforms provide information that’s less than a day old. In some cases, you can get these reports nearly in real time.

Online marketing and mobile marketing are core parts of your marketing strategy. And all indications are that these so-called new media channels will continue to evolve and grow in importance. In the current environment, it’s a forgone conclusion that effective marketing depends on good web analytics. The cost and effort of finding the right one and configuring it to your particular business needs will pay you back in spades.