July 18, 2007
Putting money into your website and not tracking traffic is like giving a stock broker money and then never checking to see how your money is doing. It sounds far fetched but it’s true. A website is an investment, a tool to help you generate customers and thereby, money.
Websites are reactive in nature. That is, they require a catalyst to drive traffic to them – a keyword in a search engine, a referral, a newsletter, an ad, or even mention in a blog. SEO and SEM are about driving traffic through search engines. E-marketing is about driving traffic through direct or generational contact through electronic media. Then of course there is conventional marketing such as newspapers, television and radio. These days, people are using unique URL’s to track what catalyst was successful in bringing that traffic to their site.
Most hosting companies have a version of web statistic software that comes with your hosting package such as webalizer. They can be a solid solution, but I prefer Google Analytics. It’s absolutely free and it is easy to install in your website. If you’re not a web master, simply sign up and email the code they provide to your webmaster. Chances are, he/she already has it in there.
Google Analytics has detailed and comprehensive reporting. You can drill down to the keyword the person used to find you, the city they were in, how long they were on your site and what page they left from. You can trace purchases to campaigns and keywords. You can view a site overlay that will tell you what are the heaviest traffic areas of your site.
Why is this important?
Let’s say you put ads in newspapers that contain your web address. You choose Dallas, LA and Seattle as your target cities. You will be able to see exactly what kind of response your ads get in terms of website hits and what cities they came from. Of course, you should train your staff to ask “how did you hear about us” if you also included your phone number. From these combined numbers, you will be able to determine if you should advertise in the same publications again or if a particular city does not generate a good return. A word of advice - be patient. Sometimes ads must run for a while to start seeing results.
You can also track the response to newsletters or special offers you send out electronically. You can track by date or use special scripting or links to measure exactly how many people respond to your efforts. If you get little response you know your dollars would be better served elsewhere.
If you are paying for Adwords you can track what the return is on your investment. Sometimes people don’t use the correct industry term to search for your product. You might find you make more sales off of the slang than your correct terminology. You can adjust your efforts so that you are only paying for the keywords that get response and stop paying for the ones that don’t. You will make mistakes - the key is to not make them twice.
Now get out there and look good.
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