When you're a business owner, it's hard to justify spending hours on an online marketing campaign without having something to show for it. Aside from the good conversation you might be generating and the brand recognition you might be gaining, without some method for demonstrating the return on investment (ROI), you might begin to wonder whether online marketing is actually worth it.
That's why analytics matters. With just a few simple techniques, you can actually see how much traffic is heading directly to your site at any given time, and even more importantly, you can determine whether consumers are lingering on a few posts or are clicking away immediately. How is any of this helpful? The simple answer is strategy. You'll have an opportunity to see how people are responding to information and can make any necessary adjustments from there.
What can analytics do?
Trying to intuitively determine how people are behaving on your website is, more or less, a moot venture. It's similar to trying to predict how a few unattended cats might react when you're away for an evening. Will that lamp still be intact when you get home? Is the fish bowl safe? While consumers probably won't wreak havoc on your website without you watching their every movement, they'll still surprise you. Some links that you thought were well-placed and eye-catching might go completely untouched, while other, less important pathways might receive a lot of attention. Monitoring these behaviors is at the heart of analytics.
What are the tools?
Google Analytics is a very well-known source for this information. If you're hoping to grow your small business online, chances are you'll encounter this method for monitoring site activity. Although its core functions are relatively straightforward and easy-to-use, the deeper you go into Google Analytics, the more complex it becomes. For instance, you can plug in any starting point for your information on a timeline and click a button to learn all about how people interacted with your webpage, and at the same time, you can develop additional metrics by adding a few extra data markers along the way.
Do you want to see how many people bought your product after reading a story? You can create a filter for that. Virtually anything you'd like to see can be programmed into Google Analytics, and as you begin to grow accustomed to it, you can take a test to become a certified analytics expert.
Google isn't the only resource at your disposal. Crazy Egg, another analytics superstar, provides you with a slew of graphic options that you can overlay on top of your website, such as the heat map tool. With this function, the application shows you how many clicks certain areas of your website are receiving by giving you a highlighted image similar to an X-ray. The darker the heat image, the more clicks it is receiving.
Do they work?
The purpose of analytics isn't to give you a foolproof road map to ROI, as that's impossible without a crystal ball. Like with the above note, consumers are harder to herd than sheep, and you're better off not trying. Analytics can, however, help you understand where people are going on your site and give you accurate metrics for how often they're coming and going. While this information may not be attached to dollar signs right away, with a little marketing intuition and reasonable goals, you'll have every opportunity to reconfigure elements of your website to turn a visitor into a customer.