It used to be enough to have a website. Then, businesses recognized the importance of adding analytics to track visits and page views. But today, top-level data isn’t enough.
Today’s most effective and investment-worthy websites are those that understand and utilize the full capabilities of their online marketing data. If marketers know how to fully analyze the wealth of knowledge available through their website analytics, they can make strategic, cost-efficient adjustments to continuously improve the user experience.
Google Analytics is helping to make this deeper dive easier. They now offer many custom variables that give you unique insights into your website data. We’ve been incorporating many of these customizations into our latest website projects in order to help clients draw better conclusions from their statistics and funnel their traffic appropriately.
Some of the custom variables all marketers should become familiar with include:
Event Tracking: This allows you to record user interaction with specific website elements, such as videos, external links, PDFs and Flash-driven elements. These types of website elements were difficult to track in the past, so using Event Tracking eliminates guessing – you now know if your visitors are clicking that link, downloading that PDF or watching that video.
We’ve used Event Tracking for the Regional School Choice Office to find out how many people are downloading their application PDF. We’ve also applied this on our own website to determine how many people are watching our home page videos – and how long they’re watching. In all cases, the results have helped us make refinements to our online strategies to better meet user needs.
Internal IP Filtering: This is something that every website should employ. By excluding the traffic that comes directly from your organization, you will have a more accurate view of your website’s traffic.
We recently set this up for the Hartford Public Library. Because every computer in their library system had their home page set as the default landing page, they were seeing a huge amount of traffic to their site. However, this data did not accurately portray meaningful site visits. By eliminating the visits from the library’s own computers, we were able to get a better picture of the website’s traffic.
Goals and Funnels: A goal is a website page that represents a conversion for your site, such as a “thank you” page after a user has submitted information through a form, a purchase confirmation page or a receipt page. A funnel is the path you want visitors to take to complete a goal. By creating goals and funnels, you will be able to track how and why visitors go off-course before completing a goal.
For the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame, we used Goals to indicate that a donation had been accepted from the website to track these important conversions for the organization.
Webmaster Tools Integration: Google’s Webmaster Tools is a great feature that we’ve discussed in a previous post. It gives you data about crawling, indexing and search traffic. It tracks how Google views your website, the amount of users who find and visit, and it notifies you of added links. In the past, Webmaster Tools was limited because it was separate from Google Analytics. Over the past six months, Google has allowed users to link their Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics accounts, which allows you to gain rich insights on your visitors even before they get to your site.
For example, you can now draw conclusions as to why you may be showing up for certain valuable phrases but your click-through-rate is still low. It also helps to measure website load time and HTML optimization, which is an important factor in search indexing. Webmaster Tools also allows you to see your keyword breakdown by count, which helps make sure your content is balanced against your business focus. The integration between the two systems is constantly getting tighter, creating a more detailed story for marketers.
By fully utilizing the capabilities of your website’s analytics, you can better control and enhance the user experience.
Want to discuss how to begin implementing these custom variables on your own site? Contact us, or leave your questions below.
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