I just returned from a week in the very dry state of Utah getting certified to implement Omniture’s web analytics product, SiteCatalyst. Without getting into the technically boring parts, if you are not familiar with web analytics, you may wish you were. Even if you are no more than a user of the Internet.
Web analytics is the study of the behavior of web users. Think about using Google to search for “left handed scissors”. At the top of the search results page is a sponsored placement for a company that paid to be there. That company probably wants to know which phrases in the ad make you more likely to click through, but more importantly it probably wants to know which phrases in the ad make you more likely to click through AND BUY. This is but one of the common uses of web analytics.
Web analytics can answer the following types of questions:
- The ability to see how people find your website, including entering through non-existent pages (should I create a partnership with them? Should I tell them about their broken link into my site?)
- Which input field people are in when they leave your registration form before completing it. (Is there a problem in my form that is frustrating my users?)
- Which background color on my website is more appealing (and therefore more revenue-generating) to my website users (this is accomplished through A/B testing and multivariate testing)
- What are the most common keywords searched for within my site that return no results? (this could be an opportunity to add something that people are expecting)
If your website is nothing more than an online brochure then you are not likely to get much value from web analytics. But if your web presence provides a more integral part to your company’s marketing, sales, support or whatever, then you can probably use web analytics to boost its effectiveness.
Now Omniture, my personal favorite, is one of many offering analytics tools. Google even offers a free analytics tool that is great to get use as a learning tool. But the more powerful products, that are going to make a difference on your website, are not going to fall into the free category.
Either way, try it out and let me know your thoughts or questions.