An introduction to web analytics for small business

If your small business has its own website then it’s essential to use web analytics to maximise its efficiency. But, what exactly is web analytics and how can you take advantage of its capabilities to improve the way you work?

Web analytics is simply defined as a method of using collectable data from your website to provide insights into your business.

This introduction to web analytics helps you better understand your customers’ behaviour by giving you detailed information into why some people click on your website and don’t make a purchase; or choose a competitor’s website instead of yours.

Collecting data

It’s impossible to analyse your website’s performance without collecting the relevant data. These come in a few different forms.

One of the most important forms of data is a metric. This is anything that can be counted. For example, you can measure the amount of time customers spend on your website, the number of sales of a particular product and the amount of times clicked on a certain page.

You can analyse these metrics using dimensions. This refers to any kind of non-numerical data that you can use to describe something you’re tracking. These types of data, which can only ever be expressed using words, include a visitor’s device type, their geographic location, the browser they used to find you, etc.

Web analytics allow you to take a metric and view it through the lens of a dimension to answer very detailed questions about your website like: “which countries do my customers come from?” and “which are the most popular devices used for making purchases?”

This type of analysis is also called segmentation – because you study specific segments of data to work out how well your website is performing at certain junctures along the way.

As you become more comfortable reading and understanding your web analytics reports, you’ll recognise all the different metrics and dimensions being tracked and create different combinations to answer the questions you care about the most.

Setting some goals

From the moment you set up your website it makes sense to set yourself some goals. These goals might be as simple as a certain volume of sales figures, but they can also relate to the number of weekly visitors you aim to attract or the amount of people you want to sign up for your monthly newsletter.

Your goals can be tracked and then tweaked using web analytics and you’ll be able to simultaneously assess what you need to change about your own online offering to achieve better results.

One of the most useful aspects of web analytics tools is that you can learn more about how your site visitors behave before, during and after they’ve left your website.

Examining the whole of the digital customer journey gives you information you can use to improve your visitor’s experience, which, in turn, will have a positive impact on your goals. You’ll make the most out of your web analytics tools if you set clear, specific, quantifiable goals at every stage of the customer journey.

Analysing your conversion rates

You achieve a conversion when one of your visitors completes one of the goals that you’ve set for your site. For example, if somebody buys one of your products, signs up for a newsletter or contacts you via email – all of these are known as online conversions.

You can use web analytics tools to look at your different conversion rates. These goals can be examined using specific metrics and dimensions, such as the number of sales made via mobile devices; or the number of sales made by men.

If one of your goals has a high conversion rate you’ll be able to see which of your campaigns and plans are working. Conversely, if you have a low or zero conversion rate for one of your goals, you’ll know you need to do something differently.

Which web analytics tools should you use?

If you haven’t chosen any web analytics tools so far, you’ll want to select and install at least one. If you’re just starting out, it makes sense to choose analytics tools that are free, so you might choose to go for Google Analytics and, if social media is also part of your plan, you might consider installing Facebook Business Manager.

Google Analytics will allow you to look at the sort of data that all small businesses want to examine, including the number of site visitors, the amount of time they spend on site and their geographical location.

Google Analytics also allows you to monitor your important acquisition data. This means you can track how your visitors arrived at your site. Did the visitor arrive via an organic search, as a result of one of your targeted email campaigns or from social media? If you use Google Adwords and combine it with your Google Analytics you can also look at the pay-per-click data if you happen to be running a paid search campaign.

Conversion data will show you the steps each visitor takes on the customer journey before a conversion is made, as well as the most successful pages on your website from a conversion point of view.

Facebook Business Manager is an extremely useful multi-purpose tool. It allows you to monitor your activities on Facebook, so that you can see which posts and campaigns are working well for your website.

Web analytics might sound like a whole new language that’ll be difficult to learn but give it a go and we’re sure you’ll soon pick it up and soon be using it to track your small business’ progress.

If you’re ready to boost your skill level, you can learn more about this topic by signing up for Google’s Digital Garage free learning modules.

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