Basic Web Analytics Capabilities
- Average Time on Site. Generally, the longer visitors stay on your site, the better. However, sometimes a high average time on site can indicate a site that is difficult to navigate. It's often better to look at ratios rather that raw numbers. Time on site might not tell you much, but time on site compared with sales can tell you much more. Trends in ratios are one of the most valuable things web analytics programs can calculate for you.
- Bounce/Exit Rates. High bounce rates show you are attracting a lot of people but converting few of them. They can be expected on the home page, as people quickly decide you are not the right site for them, and the "contact us" page, where people often switch contact to phone or leave the site. A high bounce rate on other pages could indicate a need to change layouts or content to improve engagement.
- Pages/Visitor. The number of pages viewed by each visitor is an important metric of engagement. Viewing several pages of the site indicates the visitor engaged. Viewing too many pages with a low time on each page can indicate visitors are having trouble finding what they are looking for.
- Contact Form Submissions. Measures how frequently visitors contact you and what sort of questions they ask. When properly tracked with an integrated web analytics program, it can tell you how frequently a contact becomes a sale.
- Organic Search Referrals. Indicates which search engines are sending visitors to you and the keywords visitors searched with to find your page. A quality web analytics program should be able to tell you how productive each of those keyword phrases is -- that is, the percentage of people arriving at your site after using a specific phrase that become customers, and how much on average they buy.
- Social Networking Sources. Traffic coming from social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc.) and the percentage of that traffic resulting in sales or some other significant interaction.
Advanced Web Analytics Capabilities
- Heatmaps. Heatmaps show you what visitors are looking at on your website. They can be generated by focus groups or paid site testers who allow their computer's built-in camera to be used to detect and map eye movements. Eye-tracking software then generates "heatmaps" showing areas of a website page that most interest the viewer. Heatmaps can be generated even without access to the user's camera by recording mouse movements, mouse clicks, and scrolling done by visitors while onsite.
- Session Recordings. Session recordings track a website visitor's movements click by click, so that marketers can literally play back the visit to understand how visitors are interacting with the site. Session recordings can make defects in site design obvious. They can also lead to better customization for the site's typical users.
- Audience Scoring. Most web analytics software can track visitors, clicks, and conversions, and can calculate sales per customer or value per visitor when integrated with sales information. But what about those visitors who don't convert? Advanced web analytics programs can sift through the data on the unconverted to understand why they aren't buying.
- Dashboards. Dashboards allow for users to integrate the information they are most interested in on one screen, or on a series of custom-designed screens for various target segments. The ability to hone-in on the metrics that matter most and see them all at once can make complex web analytics programs much easier to use and to teach others to use. Think of them as visual macros.
- Multi-Visit Metrics. Most analytics programs treat each visit to the website as a unique event. However, large purchases and complicated activities often require multiple visits to a site to complete a single quest. Software that tracks the progress of site users through multiple visits can help clear up otherwise confusing analytics.
- Visualization Tools. A bit part of finding any problem in a system is simply seeing it. With the increase in the amount of data being collected by web analytics systems, sometimes finding an important problem or opportunity is like locating a needle in a haystack. Good visualization tools should be able to hunt through data for those anomalies and bring them to your attention in colorful and convincing ways