Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Web Analytics - another excuse to procrastinate

Unless it's your job or you are making money doing it, I find a lot of people with blogs and web sites don't often check their web analytics to see how their site(s) are doing.

It's like balancing your checkbook - something you should do regularly, but always put off until the last possible moment. Even the word is foreboding - Analytics.

Well, I'm here to ease your pain. Call your analytics a guest book and you always want to check the guess book to see who has visited or left a message (converted to a sale or download).

Web Analytics is like a computer program - it has all the bells and whistles, but you only need to use the bells or just the whistles. Take a standard word processing program. There are several ways to make a word bold or change a typeface, but you only use one the ways.

It's the same with analytics. You don't need all the information it tracks, only the most important pieces of data related to your site and your promotions.

Let's look at a typical scenario. You send out a monthly newsletter about new products you have just introduced. You know that most of your email list, say 80%, consists of people who live in your city. You have also placed links in your email to only the new products featured.

A few days later a few sales come in and then there is a large spike in sales. Your email marketing firm tells you that 12% of your emails converted meaning that 12% of your email recipients at least opened your email. The marketing firm also tells you a majority of your emails were forwarded to others. But, you don't know where your customers are coming from for future promotions.

You see from your sales records that the spike in sales is coming from Florida and most sales are for a new wooly scarf from a new designer you just took on in your clothing line.

Now you are scratching your head and wondering, "Who would buy a wooly scarf in Florida?"

A quick look at your web analytics and you see that many of your visitors and your conversions are concentrated in pockets in the larger metropolitan areas. And the majority of conversions (sales) were made late at night.

You are ready to call that psychic you always passed on the highway each morning to work to find out who this new customer segment is and their demographics.

But you don't have to call her, just look at your analytics again. Another piece of interesting data shown is that the majority of visitors to your site who purchased a wooly scarf did it from a mobile device. Now you know your new customer segment.

Playing a web analytics detective, you put the clues together:
  • A good number of your emails were forwarded to others
  • The majority of transactions occurred late at night
  • Sales were concentrated around larger metropolitan areas
  • Online sales were made mostly with mobile devices
Your new customer segment is mainly composed of female teenagers and young people.
How do you know? Elementary my dear Watson.

When a few teens saw your new scarf, they were excited and wanted to share with all their friends - the email forwarding then ensued.

The majority of sales occurred late at night - teens and young people are busy texting each other at night and probably texted your website address to each other. Ordering was done at night.

Sales were concentrated around metro areas - most teens live close to each other by the location of their high school so you see the higher sales in the more populated areas.

Most of the sales were made using mobile devices - younger people are more comfortable with using a mobile device and especially using it to make purchases. You can assume the majority of sales came from teens and young people.

To test your conclusions, you send another email marketing newsletter with a new scarf and other items from your new designer and track the online sales with your web analytics. Your sales take off.

So you can see it pays to check your web least once in awhile. Don't put it off.