Business Website Statistics to Scan Casually - dummies

Business Website Statistics to Scan Casually

By Jan Zimmerman

The following business website statistics are not critical but are still helpful when you make decisions about your marketing program, site development, or newsletter timing:

  • Time of day: The time of day that people visit lets you know whether they’re visiting from work (where they usually have faster Internet access) or from home. Watch for a bulge around lunchtime, which is often a good time to release a newsletter.

    Unless you’re publicizing your site locally only, your hours of use extend across four time zones. If you’re marketing internationally, use spreads out over time accordingly.

  • Day of week: The days of the week also let you know patterns of use, from work or home. Anecdotal evidence shows shoppers browsing from home on weekends and buying on Monday from work. Compare your own patterns of traffic versus sales.

  • Browser and operating system: Most statistical packages can identify browser, version, and operating system. This information is valuable during development because you can infer certain characteristics of your user base: The more current these items, the more likely your users also have faster access and higher-resolution monitors. Let this information guide the features you include on your site and the size screen for which your site is optimized.

  • Length of visit: Some analytics packages offer length or duration of visit in minutes and seconds (for a sample display). Set a goal to have more than half your visitors stay longer than 30 seconds.

  • Search string: Lists of words or phrases that users actually entered into search engines to find your site. If these strings aren’t already in your keyword list, add them. You might also want to use them in your keyword list for pay per click ads. Some advanced packages analyze search strings by search engine. Different people use different search engines, and they often use different words or phrases.

  • Country: Whether you’re already shipping internationally or thinking about it, watch the country statistics. They can indicate either your success in penetrating another market or wherever interest exists.

  • Host or site: This list of host IP addresses of visitors to your site is sometimes sorted by state. If you’re curious about an address that seems to generate numerous visits, you can find out to whom it belongs.

    Try clicking its IP address, copying it into the Address bar of your browser, or submitting it to the Whois database to see who owns it. This data is sometimes used to track someone hacking your site.

  • Entry page: Some packages display how users first arrived at your site. Although your home page is almost always the most frequently used entry page, users might enter on other pages: from a bookmark; from a link provided by someone else; by clicking another URL that shows up in natural search engine results; by clicking a landing page URL in an ad; or by entering a promotion-specific URL that you created.

    The entry page is a quick way to track entries from offline ads.

  • Exit page: The last page that users view can provide insight into when they’ve “had enough.” In some cases, the exit page is a thank-you.

Take absolute numbers for any statistic with a grain — make that an entire shaker — of salt. Although efforts are made to standardize the meaning of statistical terms, for now they’re still efforts. For example, does a new visitor session start after someone has logged off for 24 minutes or 24 hours? Relative numbers are more meaningful. Is your traffic growing or shrinking? Is your conversion rate increasing or decreasing?

To minimize attention on absolute values, focus on ratios or percentages. Suppose that 10 percent of a small number of viewers converted before you conduct a sales-focused ad campaign, compared to only 5 percent of a larger number of viewers afterward — what does that tell you? (It might indicate that your ad wasn’t directed tightly on your target market.)