Useful Articles

Understanding Web Analytics

This article highlights the importance of data crunching in shaping your web strategy and the need to understand web analytics and dashboards. 

Data has taken the centre stage in recent times as businesses have woken up to the critical role data plays in shaping business decision. Businesses cannot navigate the world of web successfully without a solid understanding of web analytics. As a compass guides a traveller and helps him remain on track or make course corrections, analytics too steer businesses in the right direction. 

What is web analytics? 
Web analytics is the practice of measuring, collecting, analysing, and reporting on internet data to understand how a site is used and how to optimise its usage. 

Why do we need to pay attention to it? 
Simply, to better understand your customers (existing and potential), take the guesswork out of decision-making, make the website work for you, and increase conversions. 

What you need to track? 
Wading through humungous data can be a daunting task and not knowing what to track and how to track can only make the task more challenging. Thus, it is crucial to zero in the key metrics that will tell you the most about what’s working and what’s not. As for metrics tracking tools, you could set up Google Analytics, which is free or else you could use services of companies such as WebTrends, Omniture, etc. 

Total page visits
It is the most fundamental metric. Regularly tracking total visits will reveal the amount of traffic your site is achieving each day. Look for the spikes and dips in traffic and check back for the reason behind them. 
Unique visitors, repeat traffic
New visits show the segment of your total visit traffic that is attributed to unique views. For a successful website, you need to have a good balance of unique visitors (acquisition) and repeat (retention) traffic. One without the other will not let you meet your goals. 

Traffic sources 
Traffic sources are an important source of information as they tell you where the visitors are coming from.  They indicate whether the web efforts are successful or not. The common traffic source groups include direct (traffic that comes to your site by either typing the address into their browser or by clicking on a bookmark), referral (traffic that comes from another site to your site) and search (traffic from search). Search could either be organic i.e., traffic comes from sites such as Google or paid where the traffic comes from sites that have clicked a search ad that you paid for.
The traffic sources also reveal which source is responsible for most or least conversions coming from. This critical information will help you do the right thing to get your conversions from the desired sources. 

Top pages 
Not all pages receive the same traffic. Most often it is the home or the landing page that gets the most amount of traffic. This is because the homepage is often used by marketing teams to kick start their online campaigns. Then there are pages that are driven by research or content teams that top the popularity charts. Tracking top pages or the top traffic generators will only help you focus your energies in the right direction. 

Average time on site 
Finally, you also need to track the average time spent on your site during any visit. If people are not spending time on your website, then you need to investigate, find out the reason behind it and fix it. Additionally, you need to aim to have less bounce rate or the percentage of visitors who enter the site and immediately leave the site rather than continue viewing other pages on the website. Bounce rate reveals content stickiness and is a good measure of website effectiveness. 

Making use of web analytics data
At the end of the day, what gets measured gets done. It’s equally important to know which elements to measure, how to measure and the way to use the results. The important determinants to making use of web analytics include identifying the metrics that matter, actionable metrics that lead to making the desired change, mining pertinent data accurately and putting it to use.  Individual goals and decisions notwithstanding, you cannot make much headway unless you have the basic knowledge and understanding of data. For instance, if you are looking to increase retention rate on your website, then the metric to look at is the bounce rate.