Advanced Web Statistics

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Thursday, 29 March 2012 14:43

Last month I discussed how (and why) business website owners should read the web statistics typically available from their hosting provider.  This month I’m going to go a step further into the area of advanced web statistics.

Advanced statistics go beyond the general statistics to tracking revenue, advertising campaigns, and trends. These statistics are usually used by ecommerce or other CMS sites that are more than just an online business card.

The following are some of the statistics generated in an advanced web analytics package

webRevenue Tracking
Revenue tracking is simply tracking each order or sale (transaction) that occurs on your website and attaching that information to the visitor. Then your statistics reports can show you the revenue alongside the pageviews and visits. Your referrers report will not only show you how many visitors came to your site from that referrer, but how many of these visitors actually made purchases, and even better, how much they sent. Similarly, these reports show the effectiveness of search phrases and the related purchases.

Campaign Tracking
Campaign tracking is one of the most important features for a site doing any kind of advertising or marketing campaigns. The campaign reports will let you see your Return on Investment  with regards to what you spent on the campaign. Another benefit of campaign tracking over the referrer tracking alone is that if you are advertising on a service that has several partners, you can see reports on the campaign across all of the partners. Let's say you were advertising on Overture, most of the people that click on your Overture keyword campaign would not even come from, they would actually come from its partners like MSN or Yahoo. So in your Referrers Report, this visitor would show up as coming from MSN or Yahoo, but since you are using a campaign, you also know that it was because of your advertising on Overture. This may sound very confusing, but rest assured, campaign tracking should take the guesswork out of your advertising.

Conversion Tracking
This is very similar to Revenue Tracking, in fact revenue tracking could fall into this category, with the only difference being that revenue tracking has a dollar value associated with it. But important conversions don't always have a dollar value, for instance, your site may be a free service that is supported by advertising so every sign up is important. With conversion tracking you can keep track of how many sign-ups are happening and where they are coming from in much the same way that you would do with Revenue Tracking.

Time Trends
Time Trend reports are great for determining when visitors are visiting your site and when sales are occurring. You can modify your advertising campaign schedules based on this type of information. For example, if people are most likely to make purchases in the evening after they get home from work, then you can reduce your advertising expenditures during the day. Or maybe most people purchase on weekends and rarely on weekdays. As you can see, you can get a lot of beneficial information from time trend reports.

Click Paths
Click paths keep a real-time trail of your visitors as they navigate through your site. Being able to see the paths that visitors take can greatly help with tuning your site to get the most out of it. Do visitors get into a loop on your product pages? Do they make it to the pages you want them to see the most, and if not, where do they go instead? Are potential buyers bailing out in your checkout process? Are there too many clicks for people to get to the information they want to see?

Click paths can answer all kinds of questions that you would otherwise require lengthy and possibly expensive usability testing.

Advanced web analytics can provide you with many good tools that you can use to improve both the efficiency and profitability of your website. If you are running any type of advertising campaign you can use your site statistics to adjust your marketing efforts to give you a better return on your investment.

~ Steven Barnes