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Cintia Miranda Cintia Miranda
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Website: pulsemarketingagency.com

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Become close friends with your web analytics

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If your business has a website (as by all means, it should), you should be paying close attention to what your analytic reports are telling you. If used correctly, your web analytics can be a great source of insightful marketing information.

You don't have to spend a small fortune investing in costly analytical tools to get important traffic information. In fact, a great number of websites worldwide use Google Analytics a free tool provided by Google. Adding Google Analytics to your site is a simple process: First, sign up for an account. Google will provide you with a small bit of code to insert into your website's back-end (there are free tools to help you integrate the code into your Content Management System; or, ask your website's administrator to make the change for you). Then, you only need to wait a day or so for Google's servers to start recording your traffic.

Once your website begins recording visitors, you should review your traffic logs at least once per month. What exactly are you looking for? A few things, mainly:

  • Who is visiting your website?
  • How did they arrive at your site?
  • How many pages, on average, were viewed by your visitors?
  • How long did they spend on your website?
  • How many visitors left without taking the time to read your content?
  • How many visitors did you convert?

These numbers will help you improve the performance of your website and online marketing campaigns by allowing you to hone in on what is or isn't working. Additionally, Google Analytics allows you to set up conversion goals to measure your site's performance. These goals can be as general as improving your total number of visitors, or as specific as converting at least 100 sales per month from customers arriving on your website via Facebook.

As a general rule, a good place to begin is with the number of new vs. returning visitors. This figure will help you identify your loyal visitors, as well as how much new traffic your marketing efforts brought to your website during the specified period of time.

Once you have reviewed your total visitor count, I would suggest that you switch to the source tab on the left hand side of your dashboard and dig a bit deeper to find out where your traffic is coming from. This section of your report will provide you with insightful information of how your SEO and paid search programs are performing, including the geographic areas drawing the most traffic.

Next, take a look at the number of pages your visitors looked at, how long they spent on your website, and what percentage of visitors bounced (a bounce is a visitor that lands on your website and leaves without navigating any further). This information is key in helping you find out if your promotions are leading people to landing pages that deliver the sort of content they are expecting; a high bounce rate indicates that they are not. Take a close look at pages with a high bounce rate to find out if the content on them is clear and relevant. If the percentage of people who stayed and looked around is significantly higher than your bounce rate, you're on the right track. Your goal is to reduce your bounce rate as much as you can while keeping visitors engaged for as long as possible (total time on site).

If you set conversion goals for your website, finding out where your conversions came from is crucial in deciding where you should invest your marketing dollars. For example, if you have been running a promotion on Facebook for several months, yet have experienced very few conversions originating on Facebook, that is a sign that your campaign is not performing effectively it should either be revised or terminated in favor of a more promising avenue. (Bear in mind, also, that 'conversion' can mean different things to different businesses. If you sell products online, for instance, a conversion obviously means a sale. In my case, it is a request for consultation. For a publication, it may simply mean a subscription to their free weekly newsletter.)

Google Analytics also offer insights for in-page analytics and landing page traffic (requires coding, of course). Both features offer their own secondary dimension, including source, keyword, popular links, geography, and so on.

By simply analyzing your web traffic each month, you will be able to make more intelligent, informed marketing decisions based on hard numbers, and gain a higher degree of confidence in your investments. Be certain to dig around, and don't confine your analysis solely to the number of visitors you receive. For example, suppose you get 7,000 monthly visitors with an 80 percent bounce rate. You can safely assume that your marketing and website content are not delivering the right message to the targeted audience. Numbers do not lie.

Cntia Miranda is the president of Pulse Marketing Agency. Learn more about her work at www.pulsemarketingagency.com.

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