31 July 2013, by A. Cedilla
Here’s the thing: your website provides your business’s face to the online community, i.e everybody who clicks onto your site on purpose or by mistake.
For the ones who clicked on purpose, your web site is also the gateway to knowing about your products, services and business. They were looking for something in particular, and found your site, which is a good thing.
- Even better, the more visitors you get, the higher the traffic.
- Best of all, the more traffic, the more data you have to squeeze for information about your visitors, and what you can do to clinch the sale and make a profit.
Think of how much you can glean from people’s behavior online. On the surface, they look around, poke into a few corners, maybe download a free report (the equivalent of getting flyers). Some may sign up for a newsletter, others browse, and still other buy something and leave. To use the information they leave behind, you need to ask good questions, you need a record of their activities, and you need a tool to analyze those records.
- Where do they look first, where do they linger and for how long at those pages?
- What did they do while they were there and what did they look at in particular?
What can you extrapolate from the web log files?
Traffic analysis software can help in profiling and tailoring targeted responses to your visitors, and is a valuable tool in maximizing and optimization your website for sales, email capture and lead generation
Not only does tech let you establish an online presence, but it can help you find out more about the people drawn in by that presence. Getting more data means you can refine your products and practices for continuous improvement, and have the eyes to spot incoming trends that will affect your business, adjusting to meet and roll with the tides.
There is traffic analysis software available that can record and list your most popular pages and most clicked on links, pages and products. With the right data showing you what people are looking for, you get strong intel to tailor your marketing campaigns and promotional strategies.
Knowledge is power– when you have the right tools to gather that knowledge, the more power you have over your business’s future. It pushes you to improve to pull more customers in.
- Profiling – refining the image of the people you cater to so you can be more precise in your marketing.
- Optimizing – drawing them in with presentation that appeals to their tastes.
- Maximizing – using your time, money and resources for the best returns possible.
Brick and mortar stores already have a science of traffic analysis to help them sell more. They use positioning (end-caps – those sale items at the end of aisles), scent and sound (the smell of fresh bread wafting about in bakeries, and even sound effects of cows mooing in fresh food sections) just as a few examples, to boost their sales, and online businesses have the same goal-oriented tactics (SEO, landing and squeeze pages, etc.)
As another example, Amazon.com has very strong support structures in place that shows them doing their homework. Using the “if you like this you might like…” option, they track what their customers are looking for and send follow-up emails. If a customer make a purchase they send follow-ups asking them to rate the product and the delivery experience. Customers come away feeling they have more options presented to them, and not herded (or hounded) into making a purchase.
Data for trending purposes helps production and procurement, as well as forecasting. It’s common sense. The more you know about your target market’s needs and wants, the more you find out about their preferences; You can sell better, you can do better, you can go further. That’s why you need a solid, reliable method of gathering the critical data, the better to hit your goals with.
The Power Hidden in Log Files
When people visit your website, your web servers records all their requests for files while they’re on your site, including the HTML page, any embedded video, graphics or audio files, as well as any other file that goes through the server on their requests (“clicks”). You can analyze the logs to find out how much of an impact your online presence is making in terms of the following;
- How many visitors have you had since you set your website up? On average, how many do you get in a day? A week or a month? Where did they come from, IP wise?
- What are your most popular pages? What about your least visited pages?
- When does your visitor count rise and fall? Seasonal rush and swells affect sales, etc. What about the daily traffic? You can design your website for faster page-load times to make it easier all around for visitors and your servers. You can schedule maintenance on the slowest day of the week for the least disruption.
- What browsers do they use while viewing your site (tweaking for best presentation and faster loading time.)
- What keywords or key phrases do they use to find you in the search engines?
- What ads get the most views on your site? Positioning ads to where they can get the most hits is key.
In-depth details about your visitors provide you with a demographic you can tailor your marketing to, boosting your site’s popularity and increase sales through fine tuning ads, offerings, presentation, streamlining the ordering process, and so much more.
- If your updates or”What’s New” page gets a lot of hits compared to the other pages on your website, you can put information about promotions, a poll or a contest on that page.
- You can also put your email capture there by offering to send them email about these promotions in return for signing up — which leads to growing your mailing list.
An online presence means no timezones and world-wide reach. By checking where your customers are from (IP addresses can show the country of origin, and some web traffic analysis software can narrow it down to the city level) you can see where the bulk of your traffic is coming from. And by knowing what browsers your visitors are using, you can ensure that your site is cross-compatible across the major browsers and loads with the least amount of fuss.
The How of Visits
Polls to determine how people fond out about your site help a lot in refining your marketing strategy, affecting the direction of your promotions and even how to position ads on your website (which also affects your advertising budget).
- Did they learn through word or mouth or from a search engine? If one particular search engines stands out, you can perhaps allot money from your promotions budget to buy banner ads or keywords with that particular search engine.
Keyword refining will affect how you rank in the search engine results. When you know which keywords or key phrases your visitors use the most, you can refine and add them to your content, various tags (alt tags and meta-tags) and page-titles.
Getting with the program (using a paid service)
- You can use a tracking service that collects the data on their servers. You use their tracking code on your site, they get the input, you’re given the reports.
- You buy the software and install it on the servers hosting your site. If you’re self-hosting, you need to make a purchase. If your ISP is hosting your site, your host should already have some sort of monitoring and analysis software in place.
If you like this article, you may want to check out the following links:
- eXTReMe Tracker offers pro and free version to help you track your visitors down the OS, browser and screen resolution they’re using.
- IBM’s Measuring Web Traffic is a classic 101 article that highlights the benefits to doing so, why it’s so important, how to do it and whether it pays to do it yourself or to have someone provide you the service, as well as how to use the data obtained.
- Webalizer – a fast, free Web server log file analysis program. Available in multiple languages, it produces highly detailed, easily configurable usage reports in HTML format, for viewing with a standard Web browser.
- Web-Stat Traffic Analysis provides real-time analysis, click-paths and conversions, among other features, for packages ranging from $5 to $10 per month
- AccessWatch is a free, open-source website traffic analysis tool designed to be easily installed and create comprehensive reports to summarize activity on your site.
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