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Adding It All Up

Measurement, analytics and metrics; CRM, SEO and PPC; Click Stream, Time Spent Online and Engagement.

Perhaps you’ve come across some or all of these ways to figure just what’s happening on your website. Or maybe you’ve only come across one or two. Whatever the case, the challenge can feel the same. What, how and where do all the roads lead?

Similar to how you don’t want to overexpose your customer to too many options for fear that they won’t make a decision at all, the very real obstacle of “paralysis by analysis” plays an important role in your search for the better mousetrap for your website tracking as well.

Still in its infancy, web analytics draw a lot of interest from all levels and manner of website marketers and web site builders. The promise, of course, is that by using the right combination of web analysis, you can best determine where to use your limited resources. A sort of magic pill.

And while there are many benefits to understanding consumer behavior on the web (which, in turn, allows you to better target incremental sales), there are a lot of unknowns for the untested, unproven or inexperienced user of the proliferation of analytics and web data.

Ultimately, it comes down to this: if you don’t know what you are doing, most likely the information you find is simply that – only information. But if you do understand some of the complexities of data capture online as well as the how to extrapolate details and create reasonable scenarios from the information you have, then you are one step ahead of the game.

So – how do you add it all up?

One of the first things to do is realize that there are several different ways to approach “consumer behavior.” How we refer to it here, consumer behavior is the tracking of user clicks and online interest so as to build a more personalized experience as they visit your website. Some methods carry more merit than others, and some require considerable more investment, be it in time, money or both.

One of the most inexpensive ways to better understand and know your user is by connecting your web pages to free applications. Some, like that provided by Sitemeter.com and Google, vary in depth of their offering, but offer the beginner a nice spyglass into how people use their site.

Other more expensive yet powerful applications include “data mining” features like those offered by The Visual Studio and Merge Left Marketing. By integrating a complete user tracking development package, your company can see what is happening with your site, then actively respond with offers and product upgrades, content or personalized activity as you desire.

Remember, when you seek to beef up your website “user” tracking, you must do so with purpose rather than simply to have the latest toy or website application. All too often companies will seek the next widget in hopes of finding the “answer.”

The truth of the matter is no software, expensive or free, will give you answers all on its own. It’s up to you to gather the material and use it to your benefit. If you don’t have the time or the ability to develop this knowledge, you can also hire consultants that can teach you the basics.

When you see just how many consumer behavior parts and pieces are available to you on the Internet, it can be confusing, overwhelming and potentially discouraging. But with the right choices and the correct ways to use the data captured, your company can be empowered

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