Why do you count the website visitors who don’t count?

Another new year’s resolution which I think everyone (including me) should make is to learn more about what our website analytics application can do, and to start getting some better intelligence from it. Even if you’re a power user, there’s bound to be plenty more you can get out of it (and it’s the power users who are going to be the most aware of that opportunity). For most marketing departments, I suspect just setting up the basics would be an achievement. Having Google Analytics installed on your website and just occasionally signing in to take a look at the chart of visitors is a waste of your time. It doesn’t mean a thing.

Let’s start by concentrating on the visitors who matter – we call them the “engaged” visitors. On an industrial or scientific company website, they’re all that matters. People who take a quick glance and leave are quite simply irrelevant, and can distort the figures enough to lead you to make some expensive mistakes. If you’ve been looking at “all visitors” until now, ignoring that statistic in favour of engaged visitors is a brave step, because the 2,000 visitors a month you’ve been recording will now drop to a few hundred. But it’s essential.

My favourite way to look at engaged visitors in Google Analytics is to use the “Advanced Segments” capability. Set up a segment which covers engaged visitors, and simply use that instead of “all visitors”. It doesn’t matter how you define an engaged visitor really, so long as it eliminates the uninterested ones. I usually use something like “spent more than 30 seconds on the site” OR “looked at more than 1 page”, but it’s up to you. Your segment will be backdated to include historical visitor data.

Suddenly you may well find that the site which has been supplying you with 10% of your visitors is only supplying you with 1% of your worthwhile visitors. It’ll be a fascinating insight, I guarantee.

If this all sounds a bit daunting and you’re an Insider Programme member, just drop me a line and I’ll help you set it up.

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