Tracking Visitors?

» If You Don’t, You’re Missing Opportunities.


It’s all about the numbers. Site metrics. A fancy way of saying all of the numbers associated with your site’s activity. Have a counter somewhere on the site? Sure, most site owners do, hidden or visible for all to see. And from this, you determine how many visitors you’re getting.

But is that all? Hardly. In fact, as a site owner you want to know everything about your visitors. That’s where visitor tracking comes in. By tracking the movements of visitors over time, you’ll greatly improve the performance of your site. Here’s how.

Site Metrics
Everything from how many visitors and how long they stuck around to how they found your site and where they went when they left. Why? Let’s look at just a few of the things this kind of information will reveal.

Visitor Confusion
A confused visitor is a no-sale visitor. Too much information or not enough. Dead-end links. Undecipherable navigation. When you track your visitors’ search patterns, you’ll immediately identify pages and entire sections that need to be revamped.

Visitors who are constantly hitting the back button, or who visit the ‘shipping costs’ page three times, aren’t getting the clear picture. Clearly.

To keep customers and to build repeat traffic means keeping the visitor moving forward through the buying process. And if this isn’t happening, you’re losing sales.

Always nice to know what catches the eye of visitors. Do they park on the homepage to watch your Flash animation? Then maybe you should consider adding more.

Do they take the time to read the eloquent product descriptions you so carefully crafted, or do they just click on through?

Anything can grab visitor attention. Cool graphics. Compelling prose. Animations. Music. When you start tracking visitor activity, you’ll have a much better feel for what those eyeballs find most appealing.

Then, just do more of that.

Homepage Success
The World Wide Web is a cruel business environment. Visitors, on average, give you less than 10 seconds to grab them by the lapels and encourage them to stick around. Maybe even buy something.

So, how many visitors find your site, give your home page a quick scan and click themselves on to something more…engaging?

That homepage is the most valuable real estate in your entire e-store. It’s what turns window shoppers into browsers into buyers. And, if your follow through is as good as your home page, these buyers will soon become repeat buyers.

Copy Success
Do visitors take the time to read your text, or do they look at the graphics and click thru. If they aren’t taking the time to read your pitch and your product catalog, it’s time for some serious revision.

Do You Know What You Need To Know?
You can learn all kinds of valuable information tracking visitors’ movements.

How do they find you? Through a search engine? A link? A Google contextual ad? Obviously, you put some more marketing and promotion dollars into those efforts that are actually delivering traffic to your site.

How many pages do visitors actually look at? If they get past the home page, do they stick around, or do they encounter a landing page that resembles a Chinese puzzle box. If you’re losing visitors on a particular page, pull it, redo it and watch your sales increase.

What route do most visitors follow? If the majority of visitors click on the ‘Products’ link on the navigation toolbar, put that link in a different color or in a larger box somewhere above the fold.

What do visitors search for? Larger sites, those with numerous products, often have a ‘Search’ feature. This information is pure gold.

First, it tells you the products that people can’t locate by any other means than to search. You don’t want visitors searching for products. You want them to find them quickly and without having to track them down.

Second, these search queries may reveal additional products that visitors expect to find on your site. If you’ve got an on-line bike shop and a lot of visitors are searching for accessories, perhaps you should expand your product line to include what your customers are eager to buy from you.

Do they put something in the shopping cart and then leave without buying? Okay, they liked the product, but was there something about the checkout procedures that caused the loss of the sale?

How often do repeat buyers come back? You may only see them during the holidays, or they may be regulars. In either case, repeat business is much easier to maintain than finding new customers. Building customer loyalty isn’t easy, but it sure does work. (Just ask the folks at LL Bean.)

Where do most visitors go when they leave your site? An absolutely critical consideration. Where visitors go after leaving your site may be the most revealing and important site metric you can develop. Why?

Your site sells scented candles. If a large number of visitors head off to another scented candle web store, you just lost motivated buyers searching for scented candles. So, why did they leave your site? What needs did your site fail to meet? Absolutely critical information.

On the other hand, if visitors are clicking thru your site to visit a gift shop link, you can chalk it up to “Just browsing, thank you.”

Metrics Analysis
Analyzing all of the numbers associated with your site is part science, part art and part instinct born from experience.

First, remember that regular analysis isn’t something you use to measure success against other sites. After all, you can’t track the competition’s visitor traffic patterns.

Metrics analysis is a relative index. You measure your site’s improving or declining performance over a period of months. The comparisons aren’t to other sites. The comparisons are made against last month’s data on your site.

The initial metrics analysis produces the baseline against which all future metrics will be measured. This is the real value of data collecting from your own site.

Why You Need An SEO/SEM Professional?
Your on-line business is a serious investment of time, money and your unlimited ambition. In other words, it’s not something to fool with.

SEO/SEM firms have the information gathering tools. But more than that, they have the experience to analyze the data and develop design changes to address issues and problems. If you’re plowing through sheets of metrics and you still don’t know what to do, call a professional.

Think of site tracking as a valuable marketing and promotion tool that provides endless amounts of useful SEM information. Don’t you want to know what your visitors think and do and where they go and why?

Tracking visitors and developing comprehensible site metrics, along with a plan of attack to fix glitches, will boost your conversion rate and, consequently, your site’s bottom line.

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