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How to Use Website Analytics Effectively

Learning how to use website analytics is essential if you’re to get the most out of this powerful marketing tool, since insights don’t come ready to digest straight out of the can.

Without this skill, your digital channels will be as wimpy as Popeye without his trusty can opener.

Of course, you first need an idea of what website analytics actually is before setting sail. For us, it refers to platforms that provide statistical analysis of your website(s), alongside visitor behavior features and visitor communication tools. 

If you want to learn more, feel free to read our website analytics article!

Hopefully, that little side quest has made you a little more savvy about what website analytics is capable of. However, the sheer number of features available can still be overwhelming for even veteran marketing sea dogs - regardless of how intuitively your platform of choice has been designed.

This article will show you how to use website analytics to optimize your online marketing, with a light peppering of Popeye references because these tools really are the spinach for website strength.

It’ll walk you through the steps that will enable you to securely capitalize on internet user data, identify issues, and develop an action plan that aligns with your marketing goals.

So, dust off your church key, cut open that can and push your smoking pipe to one corner of your mouth - it’s time to eat your greens!

Calibrate Privacy Levels From Day One

Every old salt knows how much of a bearing GDPR and data privacy has had on modern marketing work. 

Website analytics hasn’t escaped this storm, since these tools can collect the very data controlled by these laws - and accountability falls on the website owners themselves, rather than the third-party platforms they employ.

Companies that don’t manage this data properly risk fines and online trading restrictions.

And, at a time of acute public concerns about online security, negligence here could well scuttle your ship before it leaves port.

Better still, choose a website analytics platform like Visitor Analytics that actually prioritizes data protection and security. 

Such privacy-perfect platforms will automatically align data collection, analysis, and retention to legislative requirements, and remove all the compliance processes that website analytics otherwise entails.

Establish Achievable Business Objectives

At any point in time, your company might be focused on stimulating growth or strengthening the company, enhancing your brand and reputation, or driving production, innovation, or demand.

Ultimately, your current business objectives should act as the binnacle that directs how to use website analytics, since you can use these tools to work out how best to drag your work towards these goals.

For marketers, your business objectives will ultimately be the top priorities for your website at this point in time - and this could be anything from attracting new website scallywags to keeping old salts hooked. 

These business objectives will also dictate the main goals for all the various channels that feed into your website. This includes choosing which channel to prioritize, and how best to approach the work necessary to increase reach.

Business objectives are by no means a constant North Star, however. They can change over time as a result of internal factors, like entering different growth cycles, or external factors, like changing economic winds.

But establishing them first enables you to approach website analytics with an idea of what you’re currently looking for, and where to direct your efforts.

Focus on Metrics Relevant to Business Goals

Visit your website analytics dashboard, and you’ll be welcomed by a dizzying array of different statistics, with some of the key ones outlined below:

  • Page views - the number of internet users that arrive on a specific page
  • Sessions - the number of internet users that visit your website
  • Traffic source - the site or channel of origin from where internet users arrive at your website
  • Conversion rate - the proportion of website or webpage visitors who perform a desired action
  • Bounce rate - the proportion of users who leave your website after viewing a single page
  • Exit rate - the proportion of internet users that leave the website from a specific webpage
  • Repeat visitor rate - the proportion of internet users who return within a fixed period of time

Knowing which ones to pick is your first challenge.

Ultimately, focusing on just one or two of these metrics simply won’t provide enough insights into how internet users interact with your website. Nor are they all useful for every business objective, with even overall traffic numbers nothing more than a distraction in many instances.

But focusing on too many is equally unproductive - you can only point your long guns in so many directions to have a realistic hope of achieving anything tangible with the gunpower you have.

Instead, it’s important to narrow down the list of available metrics to those most relevant to the task at hand.

Practically, what this means is using your established business objectives as the lighthouse with which to guide your choice of metric(s) to focus on at any given time.

If you want to drive revenue upwards, you might for instance use your metrics to identify and focus more on geographical hotspots of user activity; Pirate Bay, for instance, could have a real taste for your rum and you could then focus your digital activities on further tapping into this demand.

Alternatively, you could cut costs by prioritizing website optimization for specific devices, browsers, and operating systems, and can use web analytics metrics to identify which technical specifications are the source of more income or interest within your audience.

The list of options goes on, but selecting the right metrics to guide your marketing strategy means that you can take a structured approach to website optimization - and increase traffic numbers and conversion rates faster.

Visitor Behavior ToolAppropriate Tasks
Heatmaps

Understanding user behavior on a single webpage

  • Assessing performance of different page elements and sections
  • Identifying optimal page length
  • Locating pain points and user experience breakdowns
  • Improving the conversion rates on specific page elements
 
Session Recordings

Understanding user behavior during a single session

  • Identifying technical issues
  • Assessing site navigation issues and the wider customer experience
  • Monitoring fraudulent behavior
  • Responding to specific customer support queries
 
Event TrackingUnderstanding user behavior towards a specific action or goal
  • Improving pathways to information
  • Enhancing engagement rates
  • Identify common patterns of user behavior
  • Understand user behavior around each key touchpoint
 
Conversion FunnelsUnderstanding user flow towards conversion
  • Improving information provision from awareness to action
  • Identifying pain points and drop-out points
  • Understanding how to improve conversion rates
  • Maximizing revenue from marketing campaigns
 

 

The above list might prove to be a useful reference point, as you learn how to use these different user behavior features.

And as each feature has its blind spots, they’re more effective when used in conjunction with one another.

Heatmaps, for instance, visualize data about the frequency of key actions on a page, which you can contextualize within the website visitor journey by watching a correctly filtered list of session recordings.

But once you understand how to use these website analytics user behavior features, you’ll start to get a much better idea about how effective your website actually is. 

And, if you feel that the importance of an insight you’ve uncovered warrants yet further investigation, you can decide to bring visitor communication tools to bear on it (choice of website analytics platform notwithstanding).

Verify Intent with Visitor Communication Tools

Visitor behavior tools can provide insights that are unavailable from website statistics alone.

However, they still can’t be used on their own to completely verify the exact intent behind user actions.

As such, it’s still possible that the insights you’ve pulled from them are nothing more than siren songs, and following them will cause your ship to crash against the rocks.

Visitor communication tools like website surveys and online polls are only included with some of the more advanced platforms, like Visitor Analytics, but are a great way to verify these insights because this real user feedback teaches you exactly what issues they are facing.

And by using these tools when you’ve already got a feel for a problem that needs addressing, you’re in a better position to ask the right questions and to get the answers you need.

Integrate Data-Driven Insights into Action Plans

Now that you have capitalized on each of the three categories of website analytics tools to whittle problems into tangible insights, the next stage of your voyage is to convert these data-driven insights into a practical action plan.

After that, it’s simply a case of portioning the workload out to the right colleagues and your website optimization will start to flourish.

Website analytics can still help with this process, since you can use these tools to verify the effectiveness of improvements in real time - and adjust efforts accordingly.

Cyclify the Website Analytics Process

Having read this article, you should have a better idea about how to use website analytics and its various tools to maximum effect. 

These platforms really are vital for optimizing online marketing and for reducing the resources that online business success demands. 

It’s also a cyclical process - website optimization is never finished since business objectives, customer preferences, and digital technologies shift as frequently as the tide.

But if you’re now considering which platform is right for your business, cast an eye over Visitor Analytics - your privacy perfect website intelligence platform, with features suitable for each aspect of website optimization.

And, if you liked the cut of this article's jib, don’t be a Bluto and keep it all to yourself - feel free to share it with your marketing hearties.