It’s probably safe to say that most advertisers would love some way to track and analyze the success of their campaigns. We haven’t yet found an easy way to track the number of eyes that see a billboard, but on the Internet, it’s clicks that count. This makes internet marketing endeavors uniquely trackable – just install one of the wide variety of currently-available web metrics programs out there and wait for the data to roll in.
Easy, right? Wrong. The art of tracking and using metrics on the web is just that – an art, as well as a science. No metrics program – not even raw logs straight from the server -captures all visitor data flawlessly; there are dozens of factors from anonymizers to robots that can add “noise” to your data, making it difficult to read at best – and at worst, nearly useless.
Does this mean that collection and use of web metrics is a pointless enterprise? Absolutely not. Perfect data collection may not be available to us yet, but the field is constantly evolving. In the meantime, a careful filtering and analysis of data from metrics can provide benefits that go far beyond “hits,” helping you grow your business.
Just a few of the questions metrics can help you answer:
- Who are my visitors? Of course, ethical concerns prevent the collection of data that is too specific about any one particular user – but the information metrics can provide may nonetheless be quite useful. What regions generate the most unique visitors? When do they visit?
- How do my visitors find me? Nothing can thrive in isolation on the Internet. Analyzing your metrics data will tell you which other sites visitors use to find you and what keywords they may have used to do so. When you know your connections, you can raise your visibility.
- What do my visitors do on my site? What pages are visited most frequently? What pages do people tend to see first, and from which pages do they most often decide to leave?
- Is my site usable? Usability is a popular buzzword on the web, but it still deserves your attention – if visitors can’t easily find their way from introduction to conversion, they’re quite likely to take their business somewhere else. The data from your metrics can help you spot potential trouble areas and redesign them to improve a prospective customer’s experience.
- How can I improve my site? A website is not a printed page...why treat it like one? Incremental changes and frequent updating keep websites fresh and relevant. Waiting in your metrics are important clues to help you restructure – improving both your usability and your ROI. With some metrics packages, you can even conduct A/B testing to see which of several advertisements or design concepts receives the best response, and plan accordingly.
When it comes to good metrics, the most important thing to remember is this: a large number is not necessarily an accurate or useful number. The secret to using web metrics effectively is to go beyond volume. Learn what works. Change what doesn’t. Grow your business.
Let your data work for you.