Web analytics refers to collecting, measuring, and reporting data generated by internet usage.
Data collection is used to understand people using the internet and to tailor web content to their expectations, and analytics also help to assess the return on investment of online marketing.
Due to the limitless possibilities for online analytics, web analytics has become a highly complex discipline that includes data analysis methodology, how to communicate the results, and the IT aspects of data production.
If you're interested in how you can do all this yourself, you've come to the right place. This is the article to answer all your questions about web analytics.
Let's get started!
First steps to successful web analytics
There are a total of five tasks every company needs to complete before starting online data analytics.
First, you need to define your business goals, then you need to choose the tactics and strategies to achieve them. Then, the key metrics to measure success online can be selected.
Finally, relevant segmentation opportunities can be identified and targets set.
Before analyzing website data, it is necessary to establish why the analysis is needed and what is the purpose for implementing web analytics technologies.
Just as there is always a reason for the existence of a website on the Internet, the data analysis is always tailored to the website's objectives.
Data analysis should also contribute to developing user interfaces (websites, webshops) and optimizing marketing spending. Clarifying the purpose will determine what is worth measuring.
The business purpose and strategy of websites
Almost all websites on the internet can be divided into five categories based on the purpose of the website.
A significant proportion of websites are direct sales: goods and services can be purchased, delivery options are available and payment solutions are built in.
Many companies, however, cannot sell their services directly online: for example, a marketing agency or a building services engineering company may have a unique approach to their work, requiring a quotation before any work is carried out.
These companies mostly use their websites to generate leads, so they offer quotation forms, newsletter subscriptions, and free sample products to contact potential clients and expand their marketing list.
The third category is content broker news portals, whose sole purpose is to attract more visitors to the website through quality articles and other content.
Websites with a customer service function provide information about a specific product or service.
The fifth category is brand-building websites, which aim to increase customer loyalty through loyalty programs.
Once the business objective has been clarified, the websites use various techniques to get users to actively participate in achieve the business objectives.
E-commerce sites, for example, use promotions and seasonal offers to encourage people to buy, while online media use innovative and interesting content to encourage people to browse.
Finally, knowing the target and tactics, the measurement units can be selected.
Selection of measurement units
In web analytics, there are countless metrics available to companies, so it is very difficult to choose what is valuable.
Before collecting data, you need to think carefully about what you need. Based on the company's objectives, it is possible to decide which numbers are worth looking at and which are unsuitable for analysis.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are complex and company-specific tasks.
For data analysis, it is worth consulting a professional, at least for the time of implementation, as there are more complex and better analyzable indicators than the boringly analyzable page load, visitor, and user metrics.
Once the KPI has been chosen, segmented and aggregated data series should be considered: on the one hand, aggregated data are essential, showing how the website's performance has changed over time.
These data series can answer questions such as: did traffic to the website increase or decrease; did more conversions occur; or how much time did visitors spend reading the content?
Many people will get this far, but most will then carelessly forget to analyze the segmented data series.
And the reasons behind growth and decline can be found precisely in the segmented data.
For example, it is possible to determine which devices those who can be persuaded to buy in large proportions are browsing and which devices the user experience should be improved.
It is also possible to analyze the user journey: where they first interact with the website, which channels have been successfully used to reach them, and how far they have gotten in the purchase process.
Once key data has been selected, it is worth developing regular reports where data can be compared.
For example, you can compare results with industry data, in some cases with competitor statistics, or time series with results from previous periods. Trend data can provide a very good basis for evaluating results and can also be used to set targets.
Steps in the development process
Web analytics also supports the development process. Once the business objective, tactics, units of measurement, and targets have been identified, the process can begin:
Measurement types in the online world
Consumers, and visitors to our webshop, can help us to make the best possible business decisions with all their actions (e.g. clicks, scrolls, etc.) or identify changes needed to optimize operations and increase conversions.
By understanding visitors' digital fingerprints, consumer habits, and preferences, we can find out what ergonomic or functional changes are warranted. To turn this to our advantage, measurement is necessary.
In the online world, there are two main types of measurement: quantitative and qualitative.
Quantitative measurements are typically highly structured and static. Quantitative data are often quantitative and structured. They aim to draw general conclusions and report factual data.
The most common tool for an online store is Google Analytics, which can be easily plugged into any website or online store using a tracking code.
Visitors to the site are then measured and grouped by Google according to various criteria, such as demographics, which website they came from, what device they are using, whether they have shopped with us before, and so on.
Basic metrics give a quick, albeit less comprehensive, picture of a website.
But before we get into the details, it's important to understand what exactly is meant by each metric:
Pro tip: it's worth looking at the analytics under the Audience/Mobile/Devices tab to see the bounce rate of your devices. If one of them shows a spike, check if your web store is optimized for that resolution.
The problem is that we can only measure these metrics accurately if we have inserted Google's tracking code. This can easily be done using Google Tag Manager.
However, knowing the full picture and the reference numbers is essential to know your competitors’ online activity. By analyzing the competitors' strategies, we can also identify several opportunities for improvement on our website.
Advanced, quantitative measurement indicators
In addition to the basic metrics, Google can provide several interesting metrics that tell you a lot more about your online store and any improvements you may need to make.
Perhaps the most important of all the metrics measured. The conversion rate is a percentage that shows what percentage of visitors to a website have achieved the desired goal.
This desired goal can take many forms, depending on the profile of the website, whether it is clicking on an image, subscribing to a newsletter, registering an account or even making a purchase.
This is the indicator that can best determine how successful your online store is. It is less valuable to have 100,000 visitors to a site per month if there are no purchases, subscriptions or other goals to be achieved.
If you have a low conversion rate (rule of thumb ~ below about 3%) then you are probably driving the wrong traffic to your website, or the product or service you are offering on your site is not convincing enough in terms of presentation, description, or pricing.
Exit rate is often confused with bounce rate, but we are talking about two very different metrics.
Unlike the bounce rate, a visitor makes a session, i.e. is active on the site, and then leaves the site. The exit page shows in percentages which pages are being left.
Some pages have a higher-than-average exit rate, such as the order confirmation page.
The trouble starts when this is already extremely high on the main page, or when people leave the website after adding the product to their shopping cart (but without buying it).
If the situation is the former, i.e. the exit rate on the main page is high, then you should carry out an A/B test on the store's wording, or - if there are no results - experiment with improving the user experience and user interface.
If, however, the basket site exits are common, you may want to consider whether:
Remind registered users by email of items forgotten in their shopping cart when they abandon it, or retarget them with remarketing ads. These emails result in 69% higher conversions than traditional emails.
Customer acquisition cost
The Customer Acquisition Cost shows how much it costs exactly to convince a potential customer to buy your product or service. In the online world, you have more control over your advertising and more information about the money you spend.
Using Google's advertising system, we know exactly how many times it has been seen, how many times it has been clicked on, and whether the click-through has made a purchase or subscribed to our newsletter.
If that's not enough, we can immediately change the creative of the ad and measure its direct impact.
Qualitative, i.e. qualitative measurement
Qualitative research aims to provide a deeper understanding, answering questions that may arise. The results obtained can contribute either to the formulation of a new hypothesis or to the foundation of quantitative research.
They are characterized by being less structured. Questionnaire and interview-type surveys consist of open-ended questions (why, how, which, when, what, etc.). This is why they are so diverse - usually no two answers are the same.
The respondent does not have to choose from a set of options or categories but can describe his or her opinion in his or her own words.
In the online space, this is mainly done through chat, online focus groups, open questionnaires, and other feedback systems.
However, as technology has advanced, tools have emerged that allow us to directly analyze the activity process of a person visiting our website or webshop.
In the case of quantitative measurement, we can identify the problem from quantified data, while qualitative analytics can provide an answer to the cause of the problem.
For example, what is causing an increase in the number of abandoned shopping carts, or why our visitors do not register on our website? An excellent web analytics tool for qualitative measurement, among others:
A form of monitoring that allows us to replay the entire activity of our visitors on the website.
Heatmaps provide a visualization of the behavior of visitors to a website. They use colors and their shades to express the results of the data being analyzed. Several types can be distinguished:
Qualitative measurement can provide a wealth of useful information that can be used to identify the changes needed to optimize performance and increase conversions.
The web analytics tools presented here will help you to position Call-To-Action elements, position images, optimize content and abandoned baskets, and optimize the layout of your website.
You can't rely on just one method to achieve the best results, quantitative and qualitative measurements are both integral to any research and it's only by using each other properly that you can achieve maximum effectiveness - and the desired profit.
I hope this article has been helpful and that you can now use the tools of web analytics to make your website a success.