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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

So what is Web Analytics and what has it got to do with writing a book?

A lot, especially, if you plan to sell your work at the biggest market place on the planet – the Internet.


Web Analytics is simply that – the analysis of the web in such a way that it enables you to discover your market, tantalize them with your work, and convince them to buy whatever it is that you are selling.

You can find additional definitions at these and other web analytics blogs if you like:


Google Analytics Blog at http://analytics.blogspot.com

Occam’s Razor at http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/

Web Analytics Demystified at http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com/weblog


There’s more, but we would need a lot more space and you would be bored scrolling forever to the bottom of the page. Just search for “Web Analytics” and be done with it.


Ok. You are still asking the same question: what has this got to do with writing a book?


With the explosion of electronic books all over the Internet, with the dire state of the economy and with the launch of Amazon’s Kindle 2 electronic book reader, the Stanza book reading application for the iPhone and others like it, more and more people are buying their entertainment from the Internet and this includes books. E-books are cheaper than printed ones, they can be read almost anywhere if you have a reading device, and people save gas and have more time for finding a job if they are out of work.

That means if there are a million books for sale on the Internet today, there may be two million by the end of the year. So the question is how are you going to make your work stand out against those numbers?

If you are lucky and have the marketing muscle of a major New York publisher or the brand awareness of a James Patterson, you don’t have much to do. But if you are like ninety nine point nine percent of the unknown aspiring and published authors you need an edge that only web analytics can provide for you.


You first need to use a web analytics tool and it is a good idea to start with ones that are free like Google Analytics. There are others like Yahoo Analytics, Microsoft Analytics and Omniture, but some cost money and some are not easy to use unless you are a web analytics guru.


The Google Analytics will help you, “measure, collect, analyze and report Internet data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web site usage,” according to Wikipedia.

In essence, Google Analytics and other tools are like my dog, Nickie – when a visitor comes to your site, the tool senses them and tracks their activities. No, the tools don’t bark – my dog does that, but analytics will tell you things like where your visitors came from, what links they clicked on, how long they stayed, and where and when they left.


I know, you’re probably saying so what. What does all this information mean?

A lot. If you knew the search phrase a visitor used or the website or search engine that referred them to your site, you can understand their intentions. For example, if a lot of your visitors used the keyword phrase, “free novels” and one or both of those words were on your site, you can assume these visitors are looking for free novels. If there are a significant number of these visitors coming to your site, you may want to consider offering one of your novels as a free download for a limited time to keep visitors on your site. Most likely once the visitor realized there were no free novels, they would instantly leave.


With the time spent on site or TSOS metric, you could see if visitors were staying. This would indicate that you have something that interests them and maybe they may decide to register or buy something. Another analytics metric, Page Depth or clicks per page would indicate if your visitors liked your home page enough to explore other pages on your site.


And if your visitors registered or bought one of your products, you would have a conversion rate metric because you converted your visitors to do what you intended them to do – register or buy your product.

It’s like buying a house. Your real estate agent may show you one that you are not thrilled about because of its design, but after you go inside, see the bonus room, the sauna in the backyard you fall in love with the house and make an offer. Your website is similar.


Ok, I think that’s enough for now. Your brain is probably hurting right now.

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