Use Analytics to Maximize E-Commerce

November 8, 2011

Then next phase in The Official Merchant Services Blog series on assisting merchants with beefing up their e-commerce presence this holiday shopping season focuses on web analytics. In a previous blog we gave merchants tips on how to improve the overall e-commerce picture. That blog focused on broad strokes and the process of landing on the merchant’s site and purchasing goods or services from the site. A second blog delved into Search Engine Optimization, assisting merchants with boosting their web site’s page rank when potential customers searched for the goods and services the merchant was selling.

Today’s blog brings both of those strategies together through web analytics. The process needs to be streamlined and strong. Your customers need to be able to find your page when they search, find your products when they get there and buy your products with no hassles. Click, click, purchase.

And how do you know if that is working? If your site is actually doing that and doing it well?

That’s where analytics come in.

Good website analytics take the mystery out of wondering who’s visiting your website and why. You don’t need to be an online marketing whiz to use them effectively. There are plenty of analytics packages for sale, but you can get started for free through Google Analytics. The Google service provides you with a line of code to plug into each of your website pages, and you can then start tracking your site’s data. You can get a breakdown not only of how many visitors came to the website, but how long they stayed, what site they previously came from, what search terms they used to reach the website, and which pages they visited the most.

Here are five questions to help you maximize your use of website analytics:

  • Do your visitors already know you? The whole point of the website is to link you with potential new customers who interested in your business. A well-designed website should only have a small percentage of visitors who have used the company’s name to find it in a search query –– suggesting they already know your business before they stopped by.
  • Are you bringing in potential customers? You want to make sure that people landing on your page are getting there using specific keywords. These keywords are relevant to the goods and services you provide. That way the traffic that seeks you out is the traffic that wants to purchase what your site is selling. Let’s say you’re a web hosting provider. You want the people searching for “web hosting” or “cloud hosting” to find you.
  • Does your social media presence work? Analytics let you monitor where your visits come from. So you can gauge how many visitors are coming from your social media activities. Google Analytics also lets you set goals, which can then be tuned to your social media outlets. Essentially you can judge how effective your Facebook Ad or Google Ad campaigns are by seeing what traffic they generate. And you can also tailor your goals section to track specific things related to your social media profiles. For example you can set a goal to monitor how much traffic you get from a specific Facebook ad or a Twitter Tweet.
  • Are visitors bailing from your homepage? Google Analytics tells you your homepage’s bounce rate, the percentage of homepage visitors who never clicked on additional pages. This is key for analyzing your e-commerce vitality. A lot of sites can generate visits, but if you’re not keeping people around and they’re not clicking through to your goods and services, you’re going to have a high bounce rate. If the bounce rate is more than 60 to 70 percent, you have a problem with your landing page, and possibly your marketing strategy. This problem is infecting your entire e-commerce setup and hurting your business. The search terms your visitors are using to find the site tell you whether they’re the people you want. If they are the right type of visitors and they aren’t delving deeper into the site, then the blame goes on the homepage.
  • Are they looking at your product or service pages? Your website is designed to generate sales or interest in your services. So beyond just the bounce rate of the homepage, it’s important to analyze your product pages. If website visitors aren’t looking at the pages that allow this to happen, then either your homepage is not doing its job or (if your bounce rate is not terrible, but your business isn’t being generated) there’s a problem with the product pages themselves. The homepage should be divided into decision-making paths that quickly separate visitors by their interests and lead them to the information they are looking for. The goal is to make the click through process easy and seamless. The customer arrives, finds what they want and goes and gets it.

 

That’s analytics in a brief nutshell. The data that programs like Google Website Analytics gives you can help shed light on problem areas with your e-commerce package. It is easy to use, so don’t be intimidated by the numbers. Take your time learning the program as these numbers are the key to finding out whether your website is effectively generating business.

 

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