Last week we talked a bit about the business insights buried in your Web site statistics. Now it’s time to do some more detailed detective work. Your Web stats are a powerful tool for understanding your site’s strengths and weaknesses, but they’re not foolproof, and their biggest limitation is that they are inherently anonymous. Get out the magnifying glass and put on your plaid cap, it’s time to do some more digging into just who’s been knocking on the door of your Homepage, and what they’ve been doing when they come inside.
Web stats packages are what’s known in the industry as “log analyzers.” While they can’t tell you what’s walnut and what’s maple (sorry, I couldn’t resist), they are useful for looking at the records of files requested from the server and summarizing this info in some pretty charts. But when has any great mystery been solved by a spreadsheet? No, you’ve got more legwork to do if you want real insights about your visitors and the strength of your site.
Activity tracking records will provide you with those footprints in the mud that point you in the right direction. Unlike log analysis, activity tracking records supply detailed data about the precise actions of individual users. It gets pretty complicated (what mystery doesn’t?) and though you may not know exactly how to track your Web activity, I hope this week’s newsletter at least gives you some sense of when you should contact us for help.
Here are 5 points everyone investigating the strength of their Web site should understand:
- Activity Tracking Isn’t Automatic.
You have to plan to record and store activity metrics. It all starts with a business need. What do you want to know about your online marketing? Ask your Web vendor a question like “Can you prove that my pay-per-click advertising is profitable?” If they’re worth what you’re paying them, they’ll answer, “Yes, I just need to install some activity tracking to catch the conversions.”
- You Can and Should Track Your Online Leads.
In order to measure the value of your online marketing you should have a system to store and recall your leads or online sales by date. By looking at the conversion rate of your online leads and the amount of revenue generated per lead over a period of time, you can get a no-nonsense snapshot of what your online advertising is truly worth to your business.
- Your Visitors Leave a Trail You Can Follow.
Activity data is most valuable when you pair the identity of a visitor with the Web site that brought them to yours. With proper planning, you can capture where each visitor came from and include this information along with the data they enter in your consult request, “Contact Us,” or sales order forms. Of course, you could also ask visitors to self-report how they ended up on your site, but the response rate and accuracy for this is very low.
- Almost Anything Can Be Tracked…For a Price.
Most business needs can be addressed with some form of a commonly-available activity tracking system, but custom solutions can become expensive. We often hear from clients saying they have no way of tracking who decides to call their practice based on a visit to their Web site. Our response is simple: use a custom toll-free phone number throughout your Web site. This is an easy and affordable way to measure who is using your site to find your practice.
- Offline Marketing Can Be Measured Online.
At first many of our clients find this hard to believe, but in fact, offline marketing has a huge impact on online activity. It’s essential that you talk with your Web vendor about your offline advertising – they can provide you with custom, trackable addresses to use offline, coordinate in-office or in-print promotions for marketing consistency, and even consult with you about timing of marketing campaigns to maximize your online payoff.
Ready to do some sleuthing around? The important thing is that you should never feel like you have to go it alone. For our clients, we are happy to develop custom recommendations for online tracking that meets your business needs. Send us an email or give us a call today at 866-374-3762.