The first step to maximizing the return on investment (ROI) of your web site is to look at how the site is being used. Analytics software is the tool for learning exactly how your web site is being used by your visitors. An analytics package can tell you:
- How many visitors you had to your site for a given time period
- How much time each visitor spent viewing your site
- How many pages each visitor viewed
- Where each visitor came from – ie. did they find you via a search engine, a search engine advertisement, a referral from Facebook, or did they simply type your web address into their browser?
- The number of visitors to your website that were “new” – people who have never been to your site before – and the number of returning/repeat visitors.
- And about 1000 other things…
Analytics software is incredibly powerful, and it’s essential to the success of any website to have analytics installed and to study the results carefully.
How Much Does Analytics Cost?
While there are some excellent pay options for analytics software, paying for analytics is probably overkill websites doing less than $5 million in annual revenue. For nearly every website, Google Analytics is excellent. It offers quite a bit of high-level analysis, it can track custom variables and match uploaded data, it works well with nearly every advertising platform, and it’s completely free.
If you haven’t installed it on your web site already, we recommend you do so immediately. In addition to all of the above, you can use Google Analytics to:
- Track goals – Set a goal for your web site visitors and track how many meet your goal. You can track cart activity, checkout completion, newsletter sign-ups, coupon offers, etc.
- Track advertising – Every single online ad you run can be tracked in Google Analytics. With Google Ads, tracking takes place automatically (you just have to link your accounts). For all other advertising, you can use Google’s ad campaign URL builder to track banners, Facebook and Instagram ads, etc.
- See where your site is popular – Google Analytics can track the approximate geographic location of your visitors, so you can determine where in the USA (or the world) you should focus your ads, which markets/DMAs have a good ROI and which don’t, etc.
- Look for opportunities to improve pages – Carefully studying analytics information often reveals high value search queries, highly and poorly performing landing pages, etc.
Google Analytics Does Some Demographic Data Too
Lest you think Google Analytics is only for tracking clicks and website users, Google Analytics will also give you age range and gender data for your website visitors. This allows some reports that can be useful, including:
- Website visitor data by age range and gender
- Conversion rate data by age range and gender
- Age and gender data for individual ad campaigns (see if that ad placement really is reaching your target demographic)
- Age and gender activity by hour of the day
Additionally, you can supplement your Google Analytics demographic data with 3rd party tools like Quantcast, which will give you demographic data like income ranges, children in the household, educational attainment, etc.
This Is NOT An Ad For Google Analytics, But We Think You Should Get It
If this article reads like an advertisement for Google Analytics, it’s only because we’re very big fans of this tool. Considering how easy it is to use, how powerful it is, and how much it costs (again – free), it’s hard to beat.