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The Secrets of Website Analytics

Feb. 20, 2013
There’s an unwritten law in the world of marketing and website analytics known as the 90/10 rule. The concept is simple – you’re given $100 to capture, assess and learn from the metrics that reflect your website’s visitors and their habits. How do you divide the money wisely?
There’s an unwritten law in the world of marketing and website analytics known as the 90/10 rule. The concept is simple – you’re given $100 to capture, assess and learn from the metrics that reflect your website’s visitors and their habits. How do you divide the money wisely?

Well, think about it for a minute. When you want something done correctly – let’s say we’re talking about building a deck – what’s a better use of your money?

1. Purchase high-priced, elaborate tools to alleviate the physical workload


2. Pay an expert who can use their experiences and contracting knowledge to work alongside you, make logical adjustments as things progress and optimize the final outcome to benefit you in the long run.

If you’re looking for the best results possible – the answer is No. 2. And the same concept applies to website analytics.

So the 90/10 rule urges that you only spend $10 actually gathering the data. Where does the other $90 go? It goes to a person experienced enough to tell you what it says, what it means and how to intelligently adjust your setup based on what the analytics show. If done correctly, the result is a textbook example of not only learning from your mistakes, but also capitalizing on your successes at the same time.

There are a few key elements that should come out of a strong website analysis. If you’re able to gather this type of data and pinpoint exactly where you’re struggling or soaring, you’ll have a 360-degree perspective and a handful of opportunities to make changes for the better.

What You’ll Find: How does the website hold up?

Does it function properly? When people arrive, are they clicking on different tabs to navigate or are they just closing the window altogether? How do your visitors move throughout the site? Do they interact with every element? Or maybe they just download a quick brochure and call it quits from there. Strong analytics will get inside their head and give you a unique outsider’s perspective that just might poke holes in something you may have thought was flawless.

How to Use it: Create more positive website experiences.

If you understand how people navigate, you’ll have the opportunity to make the natural flow of the site more intuitive. Maybe people typically go directly from the home page to the “About Us” page because they’re seeking some basic company information. Perhaps it would be more helpful to transpose some of that same information onto the home- page to help them stay interested from the moment they arrive. Another alternative is to make the “About Us” page the second menu item for easier access. You’ll also want to have the information you want people to see on that page since so many are going there.

What You’ll Find: How’s that social media stuff working out?

Someone told you it might be a good idea to throw a few icons or maybe even a live feed from your company’s Facebook or Twitter page, but are people actually interacting with it? You’ll see if the addition of those social features has brought value to your page, or maybe just brought people to a dead end.

How to Use it: Bridge the gap between your social presence and your website.

If you find that no one seems to be benefiting from the social plug-ins, there could be a few reasons why. Maybe you placed them on a page that doesn’t give them enough credit, or maybe people just flat-out aren’t seeing it. If you haven’t been updating them regularly, maybe your visitors can’t see a reason to interact with your social sites (and that’s a completely new issue). Use this information to fix whatever seems to be holding this feature back.

What You’ll Find: Where is your traffic coming from?

Is the search advertising you’re conducting bringing people to your site? Or maybe they actually type your exact web address into their browser. Where did they learn of your URL? Did another site redirect them to you? The possibilities here are endless, but it’s always nice to know how they wound up exactly where you wanted them. And don’t forget the literal sense of the word “where” either. Geographically, what type of audience have you attracted? Is there a way you can cater to their region more appropriately?

How to Use it: Optimize whatever is working.

If it’s the ads you’ve paid for, buy more ad space. If it’s the jingle you wrote to help people remember the URL, write another jingle. The same goes for the opposite scenario. If you’ve found that the money you’ve invested in search advertising isn’t what’s driving people to your site, maybe you don’t need to dish out the money anymore. And as far as geography goes, this one is simple – invest in that region with ads and promotions.

What You’ll Find: How engaging is your website?

Which pages attract the most attention? How long do people stay on those pages and where do they go when they’re finished? What is it about the most popular page? Is there a video? An interactive element? Is there a core piece of information everyone is looking for?

How to Use it: Prioritize the things that shine.

If something works well on one page, odds are that your audience is just as likely to engage with the same content on another page. If you can align this with the navigation piece of your analytics, you’re sure to create the perfect blend of what people want, when they want it and where they’d like to see it.

What You’ll Find: Is it working?

What is the overall goal of your site? To collect emails for a subscription list? To get visitors to fill out your contact form? To have them actually complete a purchase? First, define your objective. Then, decide if it has been successful.

How to Use it: Rearrange to highlight the goal.

Maybe your visitors simply don’t realize the end goal. If you’ve placed this overall objective on a page that is rarely visited, you’re not going to get the results you were hoping for. Once you know the levels of engagement with each page, you’ll be able to make an informed decision as to where the final move should go. Should your visitors type their email address before they can proceed to the site? Should a brochure download require a company name and phone number? Whatever you want them to do, make it easy for them to do it.

There’s no doubt that the complexities of website analytics are far deeper than a couple of basic statistics. Ideally, you want to put yourself in the mind-set of the customer and begin to understand how they feel when they land on your homepage.

But to truly optimize this information, you must remember the 90/10 rule. Numbers are nothing but numbers if you don’t have someone to translate them for you. It’s possible your IT person already has the skills to interpret the analytics, but frankly, it is unlikely he or she is knowledgeable about marketing. One reliable way to develop a better grasp of your analytics is to discuss them with a marketing person or agency that has digital experience because they understand the importance of the “translation” when dealing with the analytics. It might sound simple, but often it isn’t.

When working with an outside vendor at the very beginning of the process, they should take into account your company’s user experience and build a sitemap with all of these elements in mind. But no setup is going to be perfect from the start, so they must continuously discover how customers interact with your digital presence and what adjustments are necessary to mirror those habits. It might seem like a tedious process, but attention to the details and advice from someone who is digitally savvy will reap significant rewards for your business.

Zain Haseeb is the co-founder of Maiden Media Group. He helps clients develop marketing initiatives that are effective, original and under budget. Michelle McGowan is senior copywriter for the agency and is responsible for content writing, idea generation and expanding branding possibilities for the agency’s clients. Maiden Media Group is a strategic creative agency based in Philadelphia, PA, with a nationwide clientele. They specialize in marketing solutions that help companies improve their brand presence and increase sales. Contact Haseeb at 215/586-3592, [email protected] or visit