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Web Analytics: How to Drive Online Commercial Success

Web Analytics:

How to Drive Online Commercial Success

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For many, marketing is a term that relates to the communication of products, services and events to another, in the hope that they will interact with the brand and move further down the buyer’s cycle. Whilst this is true at a top level, the reality is that it is actually the practice of communicating to the right audience at the right time

With competition in just about every area of the market being so high, businesses have to act. They have to be smart with their content, have products or services that people want to buy and offer either good value or market leading expertise.

All of these things take time and effort so streamlining the marketing process is vital and throughout the course of this eBook you will see the ways in which you can achieve this and that by using analytics you can improve your ROI and digital performance.

Interacting with customers and communicating your message is one thing but how do you make sure that you aren’t wasting effort on those who are not likely to buy or even interact at all?

This comes down to having a real understanding of your audience. Ask yourself the questions:

  • Who are they?
  • What are they looking for and can you offer it?
  • Do you offer value for money or expert knowledge?
  • Can your competitors compete with the deal you offer?
  • Where are the customers in the buyer’s cycle?
  • Will your marketing turn them against the product?

The one key takeaway that you should gain from this eBook is that not only are analytics highly important but that each piece of data has a knock-on effect on another. Data is logical and follows a chain or ladder format. If you increase the audience, in theory you should increase the number of viewers, the number of interactions, the number of conversions, the sales, ROI and improve the brand reputation. Remember that no data is bad data and improvements across the board, especially in areas that are showing no or slow performance are beneficial to a business.

What are web analytics?

Website analytics can come in many guises, but in essence they are the facts and figures relating to the performance of a piece of work. They provide the statistics and data behind your campaigns and demonstrate how your business communications are working. They also give an insight into areas that are working well and those which are not working so well. If your aim of the business is to have as much interaction with clients as possible or if you want to improve brand reputation, ROI or conversions then understanding the analytical side of websites and campaigns is integral.

There are numerous platforms that businesses can use to analyse your data and there are an innumerable amount of things to measure. So let’s look at some of them.

In the work that we see day in, day out, the three main areas that most businesses want to know more about are website performance (normally for retail sites), inbound marketing (email campaigns and newsletters) and social media marketing (Facebook, Twitter etc).

All three of these areas have pros and cons and the emphasis put on these different types of marketing vary depending on your business. If would be fair to argue that all are important, but in truth it is the weighting and analysis of the platforms that determines marketing strategy. If we are to look at these areas of the market further you will soon garner the importance of them, how they are used and how they can help you to grow your market online.

Website performance

Website performance is one of the most important metrics to track. With an increasing focus on digital marketing, businesses will struggle to compete if they do not have a website, what’s more they’ll struggle if they don’t have one that is easy to navigate, that performs well and that offers a good user experience (UX).

In terms of the data that you can track for a website, the main ones are:

  • Website visits
  • Users
  • Page views/ pages per session
  • Session duration
  • Bounce rate

You can also look at a series of other metrics such as:

  • The browser the user came through
  • Language
  • Geographic location
  • Site speed
  • Sales vs abandoned baskets

Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a vital part of any business strategy. Being able to both communicate your message and bring in leads to your company, is a sure fire way of growing your audience and improving conversions.

It is the process of helping potential customers find a company by utilising various forms of pull marketing, such as blogs, whitepapers, eBooks, podcasts, webinars, video, SEO and social media.

This involves creating relevant, valuable and original content, optimising it and distributing it across a variety of online media channels. The aim of this process is to attract audiences, increase brand awareness, convert leads and increase ROI.

It is fair to say that traditional marketing methods are no longer enough to captivate and retain customer interest. Instead audiences are becoming increasingly wise to conventional marketing tactics and are more likely to ‘switch off’ when they know they are being sold to. Savvy marketers understand that they must adapt their strategies to create lasting connections using genuinely informative and personalised material.

When carried out effectively, inbound marketing can allow you to:

  • Create brand awareness
  • Create and maintain positive associations around your brand in the minds of your target market/customers/fans/brand advocates
  • Build trust between your brand and your target market / customers / fans / brand advocates
  • Become an authority within your industry
  • Generate inbound leads
  • Unlike traditional marketing techniques, inbound marketing does not intrude on or interrupt audiences so is unlikely to cause annoyance.

As the vast majority of all inbound marketing is data-driven it is essential that you are utilising tools that allow clear segmentation, full access to analytics and which can automate tasks like email generation, social media and other website actions.

Of the many automation platforms that are available one which we use is Act-On. This platform streamlines, automates and measures inbound marketing campaigns and is designed to cultivate and engage with your consumers at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Act-On can implement campaigns to attract, nurture and convert your current prospects, while continuing to educate and delight converted consumers.

The system allows users to identify, prioritise and connect with a businesses strongest prospects, shortening the path to purchase.

Another of the primary areas of inbound marketing where analytics takes a prominent role is email marketing. This is the area of marketing that drives sales and conversions through emails and newsletters and as such you need to constantly look at your data and make adjustments. In terms of inbound marketing and the data that it generates, things such as heat maps and click tracking can give you an idea about where on the page or email the viewer is clicking.

You can also test your calls to action on eShots and see which gets the most response e.g do more people click on ‘read more’ than on ‘downloads’ ? This can also be done from the data based on the open rate in terms of headers. If your customers resonate with emails that say ‘free’ or ‘deal’ in the title then this is a format that you should continue with.  

Social media marketing

Social media is huge at the moment and shows no sign of slowing down. There are multiple platforms that you can sign up to and which you can use to communicate with your audience. One of the best things about social media is that in nearly every case, it is free at the point of use. What’s more, many of these platforms offer a back-end analytics service.

The benefits of this are that you can get into the real core data about your audience and then use this to write your content moving forward. Some of the focus areas of your social media should be:

  • Organic search optimisation of profiles, posts, titles and descriptors (including keywords and linking strategy)
  • Continued audience growth and nurturing of social relationships by targeting sectors/individuals
  • Development of social interaction with the key target demographic
  • Analysis of social sentiment and development of trust and engagement
  • How to maximise real-time opportunities on social media

Why are web analytics important?

Web analytics are vital because not only do they show actual results that your marketing activity and website have produced, but they are a valuable source of information for future activity.

If you are in the position to look at the data you receive – and as a business with the aim of moving forward, you should be – then analytics are the best chance of doing this.

You are able to learn from what your customers are telling you as well as what they are not telling you. If the speed of your site is slow and takes too long to load then the chances are that you will lose customers. In a world where there is so much competition you have to get the user to the landing page and then have enough positive reasons for them to stick around and browse further. So how do you know if you are doing this you might ask? Well the first thing to do is run a website speed test. Research suggest that the average time a customer will wait for a page to load is five seconds on desktop and up to 19 seconds on mobile (this is with a standard 3G connection). There are also findings that suggest that:

  •         if your site loads in 5 seconds, it is faster than approximately 25% of the web
  •         if your site loads in 2.9 seconds, it is faster than approximately 50% of the web
  •         if your site loads in 1.7 seconds, it is faster than approximately 75% of the web
  •         if your site loads in 0.8 seconds, it is faster than approximately 94% of the web

If your site takes significantly longer than these times to load then customers will inevitably leave, which is reflected in the time on page and bounce rate if the page doesn’t load at all. The data that you get from here should instruct you as to whether or not you need to make an adjustment. People abandoning your site are lost customers. Win them back by using a data driven approach.

This data can also lead you to look at the time users spend on the site in terms of session time and pages per session. Relevant information and positive UX will almost certainly lead to longer time on page whereas poor quality sites often lose traffic faster.

Pictures and poorly optimised content are two of the things that can affect the time it takes to load a page, as can failing to optimise for mobile. The latter point is one to particularly take note of as mobile has overtaken desktop as the search and browsing preference, a trend that is certain to continue. Throughout this eBook you will see plenty of questions which relate to why something is happening or isn’t and it is these questions that form the learning process.

Web Analytics – How to Drive Online Commercial Success

This eBook is designed as a resource for businesses of all sizes who are looking to garner a deeper knowledge of analytics, the various platforms that can be used and the commercial benefits of getting behind the statistics.

Written by the team at Click Consult, one of  UK’s leading businesses in the search marketing industry, this eBook gives readers a chance to improve their use of data and covers the following topics:

  • What are web analytics?
  • Why are web analytics important?
  • What can you track and how does it assist commercial performance?
  • Top tools for analysing your online performance
  • The magic metric – ROI

Click Consult hopes readers will enjoy this eBook and that it brings its audience the success in search they deserve.

What can you track and how does it assist commercial performance?

So the next questions are what types of data are available to collect and how can they assist your commercial performance? In the case of website analytics two of the best platforms as previously mentioned are Google Analytics and Searchmetrics.

Google Analytics, as we mentioned previously is the go-to starting point for all users when it comes to tracking data performance. Logging into the Google Analytics tool and getting to the company page brings up a range of statistics.

These first few graphs, which can all be expanded, offer you a glimpse at the traffic your site gains. They tell you a little more about the behaviour of your customers in that you can see how often they visit and the average number of pages that they view. For retail sites the number of page views will be quite high as the number of individual pages and products are higher. For insurance and finance products where comparisons are being made or where forms need to be filled in then you can expect a high on page duration. Depending on what your aim is these stats vary from business to business.

In a similar fashion the next two metrics, session duration and bounce rate tell you something about the behaviour of your visitors. When you are selling something however they actually tell you about the audience as a whole. High bounce rate or low session duration suggests that the products you have are not relevant or that the visitor isn’t currently at the right stage of the conversion funnel.

Another indication as to the types of people you have coming to your site is a new vs returning visitor graph. A high number of new visitors is always a positive but retaining visitors that have not  converted is also crucial. If you can nurture these individuals and refresh your content to reinforce your message these visitors may end up as paying customers.  

Other factors that can help you to identify where your traffic is coming from include geographic location, language and heat maps.The questions that can stem from this include are your audience speaking your language, are they in the same country as you and, if not, can you deliver to them? Essentially these bits of data help you to streamline your master data.

Looking at the browser with which the user found your website offers another insight as does the split between mobile and desktop. If you can see that the vast majority of those accessing your site for example are using Safari on mobile then you had better make sure that you are optimised for mobile.

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