Analytics: Who Visits My Website and What Do They Do?
For Internet Marketing, there is no reason to do anything blindly.
Internet Marketing vs Print Media
Suppose you publish an ad in a magazine. The magazine usually takes at least a couple of months for it to come out. Then your expectations are that people call, go to your website, or if you are a brick and mortar business, come to your location. But how do you know the advertising is really effective? Techniques involving coupons, for example are often used. And having your staff ask "how did you hear about us", is also helpful.
But can you really get a good handle on what publication does better? If you tried a different ad, or a different size ad, can you really know what works better?
To accurately answer these questions, you need to calculate the cost per sale (or lead). The calculation is simple. It's the cost of your ad divided by the number a sales that resulted from the ad. If you did this with all the ads that you run, you would be able to compare which ones are more effective. However, really knowing the number of sales from a particular print ad is the hard part.
Website Analytics Gives the Intelligence to Achieve High Performance
Knowing where visitors to your website come from, and what they do once they get there, gives an advantage to Internet Marketing that is simply not attainable with other forms of marketing. When used properly, this "intelligence" assures that you are getting the best ROI for your marketing dollars.
Statistics for visitor traffic and resulting leads or sales, are also immediate. Paid traffic that doesn't convert to sales or leads, or is too costly, can be eliminated as soon as enough data is collected to make a determination. Different website copy, new PPC campaigns, or new sources of traffic can be tested and evaluated. Based on performance, appropriate changes can be made.
Long Term Data Assures Continued Performance
Continued performance monitoring will signal when a source of traffic changes. Suppose your website is included on a travel website that has performed well for a couple of years. Then the next year they raise prices. Is it still worth the traffic? Your historical data collected about visitors from this source will help answer the question.
Over time, clear trends can be seen in the data. Variations over different times of the year will become clear. Behavior during weekends and holidays vs work days may become evident, too. Even the time of day will show cyclic patterns.
Also, the general trend from year to year, is a helpful measure. If you see overall traffic to your website starting to drop from the previous year, you can react. Is it due to one source of traffic that has dropped? Is it generally consistent across all sources? Is it due to increased competition? Having this data helps answer these questions, and helps provide insight into what you need to do to compensate. This can be the difference in a slowing business and a growing business.
Paid Ad Tracking
Tracking results from PPC advertising is crucial for optimizing PPC campaigns. It's not a simple matter of getting the most clicks for your money. Tracking and optimizing PPC traffic is quite different from generally analyzing what visitors do on your website. The keywords, the Ad, the bidding and landing page are all variables that interplay in PPC effectiveness. Tracking and evaluating these specific measures, and making the appropriate adjustments is what PPC optimization is all about. Without the data, optimization can't happen.
Some internet directory listings require payment for longer periods of time. Unfortunately, many of these types of websites are still modeled after the paper world. They may charge for a year in advance, and do not provide analytical data as to what works better.
Split testing: the Secret to Higher Returns
Another aspect of website analytics involves various forms of testing. No matter how much experience an Internet Marketer may have, you can never assume a specific market and visitor's behavior. A different headline, the presentation of more information vs less, the use of an image or video, different wording for a PPC ad, or just a simple color change, can make very significant changes to effectiveness. The only way to truly know what works better is to test these types of differences. Setting up what is known as Split Tests, and collecting the appropriate data, can result in surprising improvements.