The Internet is perhaps the only
communication channel that allows you to track practically everything
that the users do in interacting with your business.
But first back to some basics...if you are
building a website you should have a reason for doing so. Once it is
built and operational, it is critically important for you to understand
how it is working for you.
The good news is that is now easier than
ever before for any business, big or small to track and monitor what is
happening on a web site.
If you are running a website for your
business, I would strongly advise asking the following questions:
Is the traffic going through your site
is being analysed?
If so, it is being analysed by a
person who is qualified to do so?
Is meaningful information about your
online audiences being gathered?
Is this information input into how you
run your business in areas like product development, customer
relationship and service?
Remember if you are not analysing the
traffic going through your site, you may be missing out from very
important information about how your customers perceive you, and what
they expect from your business.
What to Look for in Web Site Traffic
Proper analysis of your web traffic will
tell you more than just whether your web site is realizing its design
objectives. It can tell you about the real motivations and behaviors of
your customers, because people are true to themselves behind the net.
Furthermore, it can provide you with important information that you can
use to predict the likely outcome of your future activities, such as
The question of what to look for when
doing your web traffic analysis, in a way, depends on what aspect of
your interactions with customers you would like to find out about. Your
business needs to develop a set of metrics aimed at measuring the
performance of your website in attracting and interacting with your
In a nutshell, website traffic analysis is
about collecting, analysing and interpreting the following data:
how the traffic arrives at your site,
which users make up the traffic,
how users interact with your site,
and finally the result of the visit -
was it a happy ending?
The results of the analysis should help
measure effectiveness of your customer
acquisition and retention strategies.
develop strategies to contain unwanted
traffic leakage from your website and to enhance the online
increase the number of "happy ending"
project the likely outcomes of future
More specifically, some of the things you
can do are as follows..
Changes in traffic volumes may help
you measure the impact and reach of your customer acquisition
strategies on your online audience.
Analysis of the composition of your
traffic may help you with customer segmentation. Through this you
can identify the repeat and one-off customers, and segment the
traffic. It can even tell you if any of your competitors are
accessing the web site and what areas are they visiting.
The segmentation of traffic may help
you gauge if you are attracting the right traffic to the site, and
if your traffic generation channels such as affiliate programs and
search engines are driving traffic to the site.
The amount of interest in the tools,
services and content offered at the web site may help you enhance
the relevance of existing ones, and to design new ones.
The pattern in which traffic navigates
through your site (also referred to as click-stream data) and the
amount of time spent on a page may help you understand the
motivations and interests of your online audience.
Click-stream data may help you offer
personalized content to individual visitors and customised
navigation to audience segments.
Click-stream data may also help you
understand if visits concluded with a happy ending. Measuring unique
sessions without any relationship to the outcome of a visit is like
standing at your shop front and counting the number of window
shoppers or passer-bys.
Analysis of click-stream data may help
you improve the navigation on your website and contain unwanted
Analysis of the "search terms" people
are using in their search engines to find you, and also the search
terms they use within your site may help you understand what
motivates their visit.
The exit pages, that is the page your
visitors are leaving your site from, may help you understand if the
visit was happy ending and whether you can be assured of return
The pages that people are looking at
the most, and least, may help you understand the interests of your
online audience. If there is content that is not looked at much, but
which your business wants your online audience to look at, a number
of things might have gone wrong. These could range from navigation
problems, to the design, and to failing to attract the right
Historical traffic data may help you
forecast the likely outcomes of future activities, such as new
product launch and marketing activities.
Changes in traffic volumes which you
cannot explain by internal factors, may help you understand external
factors and their impact on your business. These external factors
may range from your competition's marketing push, to seasonal
activities such as major holidays and sporting functions like the
Olympics. A good way to understand these fluctuations is the use of
a Panel-based Traffic Measurement Service. These services allow you
to compare your site usage to a relevant comparison group's.
These are only some of things that you can
derive from the web site traffic analysis. It is obvious from this list
that web site traffic analysis must not be seen in isolation from the
rest of your business. It must be an integral part of how you run your
The analysis outlined in this article
focuses on traffic, not on the technical performance of a web site.
Although inter-linked with the experience of the online audience, I
suggest separating it from traffic analysis as this is a business
activity that requires different skills. Technical analysis is a topic
on in its own right, and has the objective of ensuring robustness,
availability and the correct display of information in browser software
and different screen resolutions.
If your business uses, or plans to use,
the online platform as part of delivering value to its customers, you
need to develop analysis metrics, and regularly collect, analyze and
interpret your website traffic data. This will equip you with important
information to keep abreast of what your customers are demanding, and to
position your business for the future.