How to analyse your website visits which might actually lead to sales

This month I’ve already mentioned the need to ensure you measure everything you do in marketing, and over the next three days I’m going to suggest ways in which you can do this using your website visitor analytics. If you want a project for yourself, an assistant or a consultant in January, I can’t think of anything more productive to look at than this.

Now, I’m assuming you have proper website visitor analytics in place: most people use the mighty Google Analytics, because it’s way more powerful than almost anybody has time for, and free. Any website developer can install it on your site in minutes, and nowadays you cannot call yourself serious about marketing online – indeed about marketing, full stop – without a decent insight into what’s happening on your website. So I’m going to assume you have something available. (There are alternatives to Google Analytics, although “log analysis software” is too outdated to be one of them any more).

If you read articles about using analytics software, they nearly always advise setting up the measurement of “conversions” as your main priority. By this, they mean measuring positive actions which the visitor takes, and which are of value to you. Obviously that makes sense, but then most of these articles go on to talk about these “conversions” being purchases from your online store, and might well make you think that the idea is not applicable, as you don’t run an online store. What you want from your website are sales enquiries, so you switch off.

But the concept is correct. You do need to set up the measurement of positive actions which the visitor takes: you just need to work out what they are on your particular website. For most companies, I suspect that one action might be “completing an enquiry form”. Others could include opening a PDF brochure (a sure sign that the visitor is at least vaguely interested in your product), or watching a video.

Why do you need to do this? Why not just be happy with “oh, 200 people visited my website last week, and 204 did this week, so we must be doing something right?” The answer is that – sadly – a large proportion of your website visitors aren’t interested in you. For some companies, it’s not unusual to find that half of the visitors are looking at one page and leaving – they were obviously led to the site in error. This is great for third-party sites which send you visitors (sometimes paid for, by you, at great expense), because if you’re not measuring the “good” visits, they can send you any old rubbish.

Then there are the people who visit your website just to look up your phone number, and the visits made from within your company itself. All of these are covering up the site’s real results.

So it’s useful to think about what a visitor could do which would distinguish their visit as a productive one, and ensure you’re measuring those specific actions. In Google Analytics these are called “goals”, and again, any half-competent web developer could add the relevant code to your site so that you can start measuring these tomorrow. Only then can you answer the question: “where did those successful outcomes on the website actually come from?”

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