A website is more than just images, hyperlinks, and code. It is a cohesive entity with which users interact in complex ways. To understand how a website (and your bottom line) can be made better, one must first understand these interactions. There are many tools that can help get this job done, but Google Analytics is arguably the best, and better yet, it’s totally free.
Google Analytics (Analytics) is an advanced free analytics tool from Google that computes, records, and displays statistical data about your website and its users. Want to know how many visitors you had in the month of May? Analytics can tell you. Want to know how many people in Poland downloaded your e-book last Friday? Analytics can tell you. How about the percentage of people that actually bought a box of widgets after clicking on your online advertisement? Analytics can tell you that too. If you’re running an e-commerce site, Google Analytics can even track your transactions to determine how your best customers find your site, and to calculate your existing customers’ loyalty. The capabilities of this powerful tool are seemingly endless.
Think about the last time you went to the doctor. Doctors need to understand how your body is working, so they take a look at the body’s statistics: pulse, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, etc. Only after looking at these statistics do they understand what courses of action will make the person better.
The same is true for websites. Blindly making changes to your webpages and advertising strategies is tantamount to trying to cure a specific illness with a randomly selected surgical procedure; It can often cause more harm than good. Statistics give direction, and without direction, change is meaningless. Let’s take a look at how Google Analytics can provide some incredibly valuable direction.
An online store has seen a 20% reduction in sales this past year. They must increase sales by the end of the year to stay afloat.
The non-statistical solution:
The management of an online store assumes that they need drive more visitors to their site in order to increase sales. They increase their online ad spending.
The statistical solution:
The management of an online store looks at their site’s statistics and are surprised to find that, despite the decrease in sales, the number of visitors to their site has nearly doubled since last year. Furthermore, they discover that a large number of visitors who had products in their shopping carts left the site without a purchase when they got to the checkout page. They decide that the currently confusing checkout page needs to be redesigned. Furthermore when they look at the statistics for their online ads, they see that nearly 80% of all visitors who enter their site through ads, leave almost immediately. The management decides to rework their ads.
Even a basic understanding of analytics could spare an online store from spending more money on an ineffective solution to a problem that doesn’t even exist.
In my next post I will give an introduction on how to start using Google Analytics.