As I have said in an earlier post, analytics should be a powerful component of your overall marketing strategy from the start. Properly used, they can show you how your customers are reacting to your efforts to attract them. This is great information for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is to know when you’re barking up the wrong tree.
Nothing feels quite as bad as having to justify a loss incurred by an unsuccessful campaign, particularly if you had tools at your disposal that could have warned you of its ineffectiveness before you were completely committed.
Analytics, therefore, should be factored into online and offline marketing efforts from the very start. To properly set up analytics, though, you need to know the places where they can be of most use. Initially, there are three main areas where they can help:
For the uninitiated, keywords are the search words with which users find your site. The right keywords will drive the right traffic to your site ultimately help both your customers and you by giving site visitors what they want and need.
Analytics provide you with insight into which keywords are effective and which keywords are not. A word or phrase that you believe accurately describes your product may not be the one used by your customers. Searches can also be affected by context in which the keyword is used. This is especially true now that Google has implemented Penguin, an artificial intelligence-based system that goes a long way toward assessing websites’ value in the same way as real life customers. (I will address Penguin and its impact for SEO in a later column.)
So which keywords are the best for your site? You can use analytics to easily determine this by checking
- Which keywords drive traffic to your site
- Which keywords drive conversions
- Which keywords drive traffic but no conversions
Determining the difference between numbers one and three will give you the answers you need and will help you adjust your course. Check the following:
- Does the keyword describe your product?
- Is the keyword too broad?
- Does your site offer quality content around the keyword?
Keywords can drive traffic but not conversions for a myriad of reasons. For example, say you offer websites and a company doing initial competitive research for a new business searches for “startup business websites” and comes to your site. If your those are your keywords, the user will come to your site more or less by accident and leave without doing anything. The proper content in the description would allow the user to determine a more appropriate site for their needs,
Landing Page Content
One of the greatest assets of any analytics software is the ability to break down your website page by page. You can see how many people landed on a page, how many people exited a page, where they came from, what keyword they searched to get there, how long they spent on a page and most importantly, you can see if they converted.
By breaking down the top landing pages, you can determine just how customers interact with your website and how with the right design and content, you can give them a great experience.
When thinking about your landing pages, consider the following:
- What are the top landing pages?
- Which pages have the highest bounce rate?
- What pages do people spend the most time on?
- Which pages lead to the most conversions?
Your home page (index.html) is usually the top landing page; it typically will also have the highest bounce rate because a bigger net catches more fish, but not all of them are the right kind. The home page is also the most indexed by search engines, literally the front door of your website through which every guest passes. If your home page does not have direct calls to action or clear paths to valuable information, users will go elsewhere.
This is where specific landing pages come in. It is very common to create landing pages that contain less general information and more specific direct calls to action. They can also be linked directly to PPC ads and specific search strings.
Using analytics for your landing pages you can easily determine why they are successful. What keywords did visitors use to get there? What type of content is on that page? What calls to action are you using? Can this be replicated on other pages?
Remember, determining customer behavior on your site is just as important as knowing what search terms brought them there.
How long is the buying cycle for your product or service? How many times does a customer visit your site before buying? What are they looking at during that time? With an online business and website analytics, this information is not just available, it’s invaluable.
To begin, answer the following questions:
- How many days after the first visit do people convert?
- Which pages do they visit during that time?
- What content do the pages contain?
- What calls to action are you using?
By knowing where your customers are in the buying cycle, you can really refine your online marketing efforts (this is especially true when it comes to paid search). If you know a typical customer comes to your site and reads 5-7 information-based pages before they convert, you can gear your initial messaging and calls to action around that. Instead of saying “Buy now” you can say “Get more information.”
For paid search campaigns, determine which keywords correspond to which point on the buying cycle and drive users to landing pages with the content they need at that point in the process. Using the same example we used in the “Keywords” section, drive the person searching “business websites” to a page that provides ideas on creating a business website.
As always, a usable, informative website that has the customer needs will be revisited when they do decide to buy.