Over the years, I’ve gone through many iterations of focus as a search marketer. In my first years in SEO, traffic seemed to be the primary focus all of online marketing. Increasing the client’s online visits was the number one goal. That thinking evolved into a multi-pronged approach to looking at data – from lowering bounce rate, to comparing visits versus unique visits.
With the evolution of tracking software – what we know, and what we can track has become much more sophisticated. With that ability,comes the onset of confusion.
- What should you be looking at in your analytics dashboard?
- There’s a ton of stuff there – where do you start?
- Is the end result the most important result?
The sale or the submission may be the goal of your site, but there are a lot of choices and clicks between points A and Z. Keeping track of path through your site may be more profitable than just looking at the end results.
My work at Blizzard deals exclusively with the travel and tourism industries; as such, we try to track revenue from online bookings for most clients – although there are a few who don’t book online, or don’t have booking engines sophisticated enough for us to track online revenue. Many clients have come to us with very little or no tracking in place with the misconception that as long as they’re getting the phone call or the booking, it doesn’t really matter what they’re doing on the site.
In any industry, profit lies in taking advantage of what you’re not already getting. Online revenue tracking tells us what is working – and what isn’t working – but it doesn’t necessarily tell us why it might not be working.
Depending upon the purpose of your website, tracking goals may vary. A site used to generate leads for a sales force would pay very close attention to the number of Requests for Proposal submitted. The goal of the affiliate marketing site is to achieve the click through the link that brings the most revenue to the site owner.
Whatever your end goal, finding fault with the process users follow to reach that end goal is where the real return can be found. Think of it this way: if you’re making $50,000 per year and you have no idea what your highest bounce rate page is, you could have the potential increase your annual revenue via traffic you’re already receiving. Think about it – a 5% conversion rate, increased to a 10% conversion rate means double revenue from existing traffic!
These are the elements I watch the most when I’m looking to increase a client’s conversion rate:
- Bounce Rate – If traffic is leaving before I even get them past the first page – why and how can I stop them from leaving?
- Top Landing Pages – My content may be great, but if my landing pages don’t give a clear path to conversion, I can make it better and keep more visitors involved in the process.
- Exit Pages – Where are people leaving my site, and why? Exit pages should be booking/sales pages – if they’re not, you can reinforce your conversion path on these pages to keep the user interested further into the process.
- New vs. Returning Visitors – Sales and submittals are usually made by returning customers, after they’ve shopped the competition. This ratio tells you how well you’re engaging the first time visitor and helping them find you again.
- Browser info – If 20% of your visitors are landing on your site via a Firefox browser, but your site doesn’t “work” in Firefox, you have the opportunity to serve that many more visitors by coding your site to work in multiple browsers.
The most important thing to remember about analytics is to stay focused, don’t get distracted by all the bells and whistles, and only bit off as much as you can chew, so to speak. Being aware of the issues doesn’t mean they all have to be fixed right away. Prioritize the problems and attack the one that has the highest potential return first.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.