6 Ways to Learn from Customers through Analytics

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if a particular fishing lure works, you should keep using it. Or that if a particular shortcut consistently saves you time, you should keep taking it.

Yet surprisingly few companies apply the same sort of logic to enhance online marketing effectiveness.

Dropping a lure in the water or taking a shortcut provides instant feedback, in the form of more fish or saved time. The web provides instant feedback too, in the form of web analytics.

If you really want to, you can spend big money creating a detailed, custom analytics program. But if resources are scarce, there are plenty of free or low-cost, reliable easy-to-use options out there.

A number of web browsers like Yahoo, Google and Bing also offer robust analytics tool. These tools are more or less ready to plug in and use, apply to both personal and commercial use, and integrate neatly with most websites.

Once you choose an analytics resource, you’re ready to start counting. Here are some basics as to which numbers matters most (and least).

1. Total traffic (that is, the number of hits a website receives).

2. Which individual pages of your website receive the most traffic? This tells you something about what interests your visitors, and offers you an opportunity to capitalize on that knowledge.

3. On average, how long does each user spend on each page? Are some pages better at holding attention than others? Why? How can you use this information to strengthen other pages?

4. What websites refer visitors to yours? This can reveal much about your users’ interests, and about the kinds of sites you want linking to yours.

5. What words do people search to find you? Be sure to work the most searched-for words into your content as often as possible in order to make your site more “searchable.”

6. Notice trends. Perhaps users consistently visit at a certain time or on a certain day. Perhaps you attract one customer demographic or psychographic more than another. Challenging yourself and your website with questions like these should be an ongoing process. Put a web analytics review on your weekly or monthly schedule, or add it to the job description of key staff.

As you follow the numbers, be sure to consider what they reveal about your customers, how you might use that information to better serve them and, hopefully, to sell more. This process can inspire valuable insights, creative solutions and new tactics. All of which will lead to incremental — and sometimes significant — gains in online marketing effectiveness.

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