Benefits of Web Analytics for Small Business
Gain advantage over your competitors by getting informed
Think website analytics is just for big business and global brands? Think again. If you're spending precious pounds on SEO, PPC or Facebook Ads and you're not regularly reviewing your web analytics data. You're likely missing out on a key competitive advantage.
So how can your business benefit from web analytics? What are the advantages and how can you use them to drive business growth? We've compiled this article from working with numerous small businesses across dozens of analytics, CRO and PPC engagements.
We'll talk about the following Benefits:
- Understand Visitor Numbers & Traffic
- Identify Traffic Sources
- Monitor Onsite Behaviour
- Calculating Campaign Performance
- Guide Future Site Optimisation Efforts
But first the definition of web analytics:
In short it web analytics is used to guide and inform decision making to help grow your business.
Happy with the definition? then let's get into it...
Benefit #1 - Understand Visitors Numbers
Visitors or 'traffic' is the lifeblood of any website and understanding how many people visit your site on any given day/week/month and being able to see the growth (or not) in that traffic over time is a key starting point to know what you're working with.
All web analytics tools have this fundamental capability to track a visitor or more specifically a 'session'. A session is identifies a collection of pages or resources requested by a visitor within a certain time period and identified through a unique cookie placed on the visitors device.
Additional Visitor Insight
Many web analytics tools provide additional 'dimensions' by which to analyse your traffic including a number of geographic location (usually IP address lookups), browser name, device type (Desktop, Tablet, Mobile), demographic data and network service provider names.
Using Visitor Count & Traffic Metrics
The primary key benefit of Visitor Counts and supporting insight is to ensure your website is receiving the right kind of traffic and at a sufficient volume to make your investment in time doing web analytics worth it. This traffic might be organic or the result of promotional activities but it's crucial that it matches your target customer segment or buyer persona.
Another benefit is to validate your understanding of the as-is, and baseline your current volumes prior to analysing, planning and ultimately executing campaings or tactics to try and grow traffic. If your website is new but you've been in business for a while you'll likely get some traffic relatively quickly from your existing customers looking up your company name directly in search queries so once you have web analytics setup on your website you'll start to have some traffic to analyse straight away. If however both your website and business (brand) is new or nobody has heard of it you'll likely have little or no traffic of note and you have a harder (and longer) journey ahead. You might want to think about a paid search campaign. See Setting up your first PPC campaign
Remember your daily/weekly visitor count represents the maximum scale of the opportunity to convert those visitors into shoppers, enquirers, sharers or whatever the goal of your website is.
Acquisition > Overview
Benefit #2 - Monitor Onsite Behaviour
Once you're happy knowing you have visitors of the right type (remember customer segment/persona validation) you'll want to start to understand what those visitors are doing on your site.
There are a number of headline metrics that you should become familiar with. The most imporant being:
- Bounce Rate - The percentage of your visitors who arrive but then leave straight away. i.e. a 0ne-page session.
- Page Depth or Pages per Session - The average number of page views per visitor session.
- Average Time on Page - The average amount of time visitors spent viewing a page (or set of pages)
What do people do when they arrive at your site? Do they bounce without doing anything, or do they look around? Do they navigate a couple of pages or several? Is there a common theme to the content they browse? Are there pages where visitors spend a lot of time and equally are there pages that have a high exit rate? How many people add products to their shopping basket or cart? what proportion of shoppers abandon their basket before completing checkout? Are they searching for other products and pages? What are the top search terms used?
Benefit #3 - Track (and improve!) Conversions
Conversions are actions you want visitors to take on your site or paths you want visitors to follow during their visit. Conversions are crucial to measuring how successful (or otherwise!) your site is at meeting your goals (see 'Considerations' below). For instance are visitors watching your explainer video? Do they download that article or eBook you spent so much time building? Are they following the conversion path you have designed, leading them towards completing a contact form or signing up to your email newsletter?
Measuring conversions allows you to track your websites contribution to your business objectives, commonly represented by performance indicators.
Benefit #4 - Assess Campaign Performance
Chances are you are spending money on advertising or marketing campaigns to raise brand awareness or generate new customer leads. These campaigns could be SEO activity or pay-per-click Ads, links from affiliate or partner sites, social media or even offline media such as magazines or conferences.
Whichever channels you use you want will likely want to know how effective these various campaigns are at generating traffic to your site, specifically the right traffic to your site.
Benefit #5 - Improve & Optimise Your Website
If you don't measure performance you can't improve or optimise your website. You'll likely make decisions around what marketing activity to undertake based on previous experience and gut feelings and perhaps worse, just because others are doing so and you feel like you should (e.g. social media).
Web Analytics will provide you with the data to analyse return on investment for campaigns, perform attribution modelling, segment your customers and review product/service fit.
These are just our Top 5, there are plenty more but at this point it's worth considering a couple of things. Implementing web analytics will give you a lot of data, even for a small business with relatively low website traffic. Before you jump in it's worth considering:
- Whether you have sufficient time and skills available in your business (or in a trusted third-party) to perform the necessary data analysis. Going much deeper that overall site statistics will likely require a level of analysis.
- How clear you are about the objectives of your website, i.e. it's reason for existing. Having clear objectives will greatly reduce the time it takes to get at useful data, i.e. data off which you can make decisions. Ideally these objectives will directly support your overall business strategy.
Is Web Analytics For You?
Web analytics offers a number of benefits to small businesses whose website represents an important part of their business model. As consumers increasingly search for products and services online it's more important than ever to understand how they find your business and interact with you. Web Analytics can help you to make more informed decisions about where to invest your marketing budget and where to make changes to design or content to optimise your site and meet your business goals.
The free platforms from Google and Yahoo have become increasingly powerful and flexible in recent years, now offering capabilities previously the preserve of larger enterprise systems. Today the standard Google offer is deployed across the websites of small and medium-sized businesses across the UK, providing both consumer and business-to-business services.
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