Website Analytics: Understanding Your Audience and Measuring Success
With a brick-and-mortar shop, you often see the same faces over and over. Inevitably, as you provide customer service, you get to know who your customers are, and what they need from you. Getting that information on the internet is a little bit different.
An analytics tool can be an ally, providing insight into customer behaviour and measuring the success of your website.
Let’s take a look.
Popular Website Analytics Tools
If you’ve owned a website for any length of time you’ll undoubtedly have heard of tools like Google Analytics.
These tools collect data by recording the actions visitors perform. This can include tracking where users come from when they enter your website, how long they stay on a page, and where and what they click.
Analytics tools also record technical information about visitors such as the devices they’re using to access your website, browser version, and so on.
But Google Analytics isn’t the only one. There are other analytics tools, too, each with a specific proficiency. Here are some of the most popular analytics tools:
Google Analytics is a free web analytics service by Google. It’s also one of the most popular because it not only provides a wealth of information but also integrates with other related products such as Google Search Console.
The data that Google Analytics provides includes audience data, behavioural data, acquisition data, and conversion data. When this data is interpreted correctly, Google Analytics can provide meaningful insights that can ultimately help you shape the success strategy of your business.
Adobe Analytics is a part of Adobe Experience Cloud (previously Adobe Marketing Cloud). Adobe Analytics provides detailed data analysis and segmentation across various marketing channels. It is a powerful tool that can deliver insights into real-time visitor behaviour and journeys through your site, ultimately putting you in a position to gather actionable insights for strategic decision-making.
Mixpanel is another analytics platform that provides detailed insights into how users interact with web and mobile applications. It’s typically used to analyse user behaviour in real-time, track engagement, and measure the effectiveness of different features or campaigns. Mixpanel places a greater emphasis on tracking individual users and events and is relatively easy to set up.
KissMetrics is a customer engagement automation platform that provides insights into customer behaviour across their entire lifecycle.
While Google Analytics provides a solid general overview of website performance and traffic sources, Kissmetrics offers a more detailed, user-focused analysis, which can be particularly valuable for businesses that want to understand their users’ behaviour on a deeper level.
Regardless of which of these tools you decide to use, they all incorporate some common metrics that can help you better understand your audiences and gauge the success of your website.
Understanding your audiences involves assessing who they are, what they are looking for, and how they interact with your website. Some of the key metrics for understanding audiences include:
‘Demographics’ in website analytics refers to the statistical data that provides information about website visitors’ characteristics such as age, gender, location, and language. Armed with this data you’ll better understand your audiences and tailor your content, products, services, and marketing strategies to meet their needs and preferences.
‘Behaviour’ refers to the actions that visitors perform on your website – where they click, the pages they view, and how long they stay on a page. Use this information to optimise your website for better engagement, higher conversions, and ultimately, a better visitor experience.
Key behaviour metrics: page views, unique page views, average time on page, bounce rate, exit rate, new vs. returning visitors, behaviour flow, and events.
‘Technology’ refers to the various types of software and hardware used by visitors to access your website. This can include information about the browsers they use, which operating systems they are running, the devices they are using (e.g., mobile, desktop), and so on.
Key Technology metrics: operating system, device category, browser, screen resolution, and device model.
‘Acquisition’ reveals how people arrive at your website. This includes the various channels visitors use to find your site such as organic search (search engines), social (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), referrals (from other sites), and so on.
Acquisition channels can provide insight into the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, but can also shed light on visitor behaviour. For example, you might find that visitors from organic search (e.g. Google search results) stay on your site longer or have a higher conversion rate than users from social media. This is information that can be used to inform your marketing strategy.
Key Acquisition metrics: Direct Traffic, Organic Search, Paid Search (e.g. ads), Referral, Social, Email
Success in website analytics is measured through a variety of key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be aligned with your business objectives.
These can include metrics like conversion rate, bounce rate, average session duration, and so on. Consistently monitoring these metrics can tell you how well your website is performing. Similarly, it can identify areas for improvement, and ultimately steer your business towards its goals.
‘Conversion Rate’ is a critical metric in website analytics when measuring success because it directly ties to the effectiveness of a website or campaign in achieving its defined objectives.
A high conversion rate indicates that a large percentage of your site’s visitors are completing a desired action, which suggests that your site is effective at persuading visitors to do what you want them to do.
On the other hand, a low conversion rate could signal areas that require your attention such as website copy, design, user experience, or accessibility. It could indicate that your site is attracting the wrong kind of traffic, that users are having trouble navigating your site, or that your CTAs aren’t compelling enough.
‘Bounce Rate’ is another important metric in website analytics. A “bounce” is when a visitor lands on your website and leaves without doing anything else. This could be because of poor user experience, irrelevant content, misleading meta descriptions or keywords, or technical issues.
But, a high bounce rate isn’t always bad. For example, if a visitor lands on a blog post, and reads the entire post before leaving, that would still be considered a bounce even though the user found what they were looking for. Context is important when evaluating bounce rate.
‘Page Views’ measures the total number of pages viewed or refreshed in a browser by visitors to your site. This includes pages viewed multiple times by a single visitor. Use page views to identify popular and engaging content.
As with other metrics, context is important when considering Page Views. A high number of page views coupled with a high bounce rate, for example, could indicate that users are not finding what they’re looking for and are quickly leaving. This could point to navigation issues, or that there are problems with your content.
‘Session Duration’ typically measures the average length of a visit or session on your website. How a session is defined can vary between analytics tools, but typically refers to the amount of time a visitor is active on your website.
Longer Session Durations can indicate that visitors are spending more time engaging with your website, which can be a positive sign. This can be especially valuable for websites that rely on user engagement and time on site, such as news or media sites, blogs, e-learning platforms, and forums.
Of course, like all metrics, it’s important to interpret session duration in context: longer session durations aren’t always better; if users are spending a long time on your site because they’re confused or can’t find what they’re looking for, that’s a problem. Similarly, if your website’s goal is to quickly provide information or facilitate a transaction, a shorter session duration could be a good sign.
Use ‘Traffic Sources’ to determine where your website visitors are coming from. This could be through search engines (organic traffic), social media platforms (such as Twitter or Facebook), direct (by typing your website URL), other websites (referrals), or paid advertisements.
While Traffic Sources can be a key metric in assessing visitor behaviour, it can also be a good indicator of the success of your marketing campaigns, SEO efforts, paid ads, and so on.
Understanding and responding to your website analytics is not just about accumulating data – it’s also about transforming this data into actionable strategies that drive success. Choose the right tool and determine which metrics are important for your business to gain better insights into the actions you need to perform to achieve and maintain your goals.
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