Cracking the Code: Leveraging Website Analytics to Learn More About Your Customers
by Iris Dorbian.
For small businesses with a burgeoning online presence, using online site metrics as a benchmark for performance can be critical to the company’s growth. Not only can such tools as website analytics track the number of visitors (or lack thereof) to a site, but they can also provide data as to what content is working and what isn’t. A big side benefit is its impact on a company’s sales message.
Wade Benz, owner of USImprints, an online provider of promotional products, credits his usage of website analytics as key to developing his company’s web sales strategy. “Website analytics tools are very important when refining your sales message,” says Benz, who began his company seven years ago and now has 18 employees. “You can use them to track the entire sales process of a website visitor: How long it takes them to checkout, how many visits go to conversion, and what content works better to make a sale.”
Benz began to use website analytics early in his company’s history to track his site’s traffic and unearth important data about each visitor, such as where they were coming from, what pages they visited. and how long they stayed on each one. Also of interest—the content and/or pages that were most popular as well as the overall conversion rate (the percentage of people who buy an item).
Based on the cumulative data provided by the analytics, Benz and his team, who use an arsenal of low-cost tools that include Google Analytics, HaveaMint.com, SEOmoz.org made the necessary improvements that would convert visitors to customers without having to increase traffic. This past year, he says his site’s “bounce rate” dropped nearly 20 percent following testing of customer interest in content.
“We have worked hard to increase our conversion, and have seen huge improvements,” reflects Benz. “This could not have been done without the use of our analytics tools.”
Using Benz’s example as a springboard, what are four ways that website analytics tools can help refine a company’s sales message?
PQ_WebAnalysis.jpgProvide comprehensive visitor data
Nick McElhinney, owner of MackTeck Solutions, a two-year old web design and development firm with a staff of five, says website analytics tools have given him a treasure trove of information on every visitor that logs onto his website, such as how long each one stayed on his site and how many pages were viewed per visit. As a result, he has been able to fine-tune his sales message to perfection.
“After my website was first launched, I was receiving a fair amount of visitors to my website daily,” he recalls. “I was able to analyze the data for each visitor and I noticed that for the most part, my website was engaging visitors because they spent a fair amount of time on the site and they viewed many pages per visit.” Still, when he compared the visitor data with the conversion data, he found that the website was underperforming.
Upon further analysis, McElhinney decided on a quirky tweak: He added a large call to action button that said ‘Let’s Work Together’ on the top right of every page. “This brought the visitor directly to my contact page,” he explains. “My purpose for this button was to disarm my visitors with a friendly message and direct them to the next step—contacting me. I decided I would put this button on my website and wait two weeks before analyzing the results.”
After two weeks passed, McElhinney says that his site’s conversion rate increased by an impressive 48 percent. This provided him with a pivotal realization. “I was spending the same amount of money on advertising and more people were contacting me,” he says. “This minor change to my website not only brought me more clients, it raised the return on investment of my advertising, which lowered my client cost per acquisition.”
Other ways that website analytics can tweak your sales message:
Decrease bounce rates
When Petplan Pet Insurance first launched in 2006, “the sales funnel was seven steps to purchase after saving a pet insurance quote,” recalls co-CEO and Chief Marketing Officer Natasha Ashton. To simplify the purchase process for customers while eliminating the bounce rate, Ashton and her husband Chris, who co-founded the company with her, sought the help of website analytics.
“We set up an A/B test and used analytics tools to help us monitor performance between the two funnels and make strategic adjustments based on data, rather than just gut feelings,” explains Ashton. As a result of this online fine-tuning, Petplan has enjoyed growth of more than 2,200 percent in revenue during the last three years and expanded its workforce from just a handful of staff to 60 employees.
Analyze where traffic originates
“Understand where the traffic is coming from” says Kenneth C. Wisnefski, founder and CEO of WebiMax, a small Internet marketing firm. “For a small business if you focus your sales message in [a specific geographic] area, you should cater your message to [this audience]. This will allow you to see if your sales message is branching out to other markets. If that is the case, refine your message to target these areas.”
To illustrate his point, Wisnefski cites a law firm client based in Southern New Jersey that started getting a lot of web traffic from the Philadelphia and Baltimore region. “We evaluated and tweaked the sales message to target specifically individuals in and around Philadelphia and Baltimore.”
Determine what is engaging visitors
Measuring traffic to your site is important, but so is ascertaining where visitors are spending their time when they get there and for how long.
“Time on-site is key as it will illustrate how engaging and informative your website is,” says Wisnefski. “Anything over 45 seconds is considered sufficient. If consumers are spending less time on your site, perhaps you need to consider creating a more engaging experience. This helps when trying to capture leads and create conversions on your sales side of the site.”
For small business owners looking to create an impact with their online sales messages, website analytics tools are a must. If harnessed correctly and effectively, the analytics can reveal data that can lead to important sales conversions without incurring undue advertising costs. The old maxim, knowledge is power, is applicable here because having a knowledge of your visitors and their activities on your site, can greatly affect your sales strategy and bolster ROI.
Getting started with website analytics
The following sites may be invaluable resources for small business owners seeking to use website analytics to improve their sales. Check them out:
Google Analytics: Arguably the most popular website analytics tool out there. Google Analytics can provide you with a plethora of data and best of all, it’s free. The site offers a tutorial on how to use it effectively. You can also contact technical support 24/7.
Woopra: As featured in the New York Times, Entrepreneur.com and TechCrunch, Woopra can help you track your site’s visitors in real time and spot key customer segments. If you need assistance, just go to their live chat room. Pricing varies, running the gamut from free for basic use (which includes 30,000 actions per month) to $39.95 for 1 million actions per month to $349.95 for 15 million actions per month. All price plans come with a 30-day free trial.
Trace Watch: Here’s another complimentary website analytics tool that can help you track the visitors to your site in real time. Trace Watch can be installed on any website supporting PHP and MySQL. However, you will need to download a few files on your server.
Reinivigorate Snoop: A desktop application, Snoop has a Windows and Mac version. After you install it, you’ll get notified if an important development on your site occurs such as when you have a sale or a user signup. Sign up and get a 14-day free trial. $10 per month.