Why Are Analytics Important?
The best way to answer this is with another question…Why is a ruler so important to a carpenter? Sure, you can eyeball elements and get close. Heck, things might even function. But a little wobble and things can come crashing down. It’s the same thing with websites.
Analytics is a tool to help you understand how people find your site, what they do when they get there, and why they leave. All of these elements are crucial to having a successful online presence. Analytics present a simple view of your website performance without having to study lines and lines of log data.
Let’s take the basics such as traffic and bounce rate. Just because you built a website doesn’t mean that people are coming to it. And just because they come to it, doesn’t mean they use it. Visits (site visits and unique visitors) can let you know if people are accessing your site and if you are capturing new audiences. The bounce rate will tell you in people come to your site and quickly leave it, identifying areas that you could improve on such as content or navigation.
Going even deeper, analytics can tell you how people are finding your site. Whether it be a traffic source such as referral or Social Media tool, it is vital to understand how people are learning about your website. If you are running an online ad campaign, don’t you want to know if it is working? And what about keywords? Keywords are those strings of content people search for that lands them on your site. Are your keywords related to your product/service or are they related to your brand? If most of your traffic is driven from branded keywords, you may be missing out on opportunities to capture new audiences.
Companies “know” that they need a website, and so they have one, but how many actually know how effective their site is? How many thousands of dollars are spent on drupal development, flashy graphics and layouts that display countless products and enumerable services without knowing if they are influencing the customer in a positive way? Which online ads are actually bringing people to the site? Is your website keeping the visitors engaged long enough to make a purchase? Is Google sending people to my site? Web analytics can help answer all those questions and more.
There are many choices when it comes to analytics – some free and some that come with a substantial price tag. Start simple – Google Analytics is a free tool that can be installed easily on websites. It’s a window into your site functionality and the user-behaviour of you audience. Trust me; this is one area of web development and marketing that you don’t want to neglect. It could be the difference between mediocrity and excellence.
Image courtesy of Brooks Elliot