NPR recently aired a story covering online advertising that struck a chord with those of us in the online media world. The piece explored the effectiveness of an online advertising campaign employing successful site analytics, while also delving into the legal issues surrounding browsing history information that is protected under privacy acts.
The story had multiple discussion points, but one specifically caught our interest. Our practical, but often overlooked take-away: there is a wealth of public information out there on browsing history. Wow, breaking news you might be thinking. While not tapping into this information, it’s almost as archaic as your parents’ dial-up connection, the next step is the often-overlooked clincher. If collecting your site’s traffic information is the equivalent of calling Apple tech care, actually understanding that information and setting goals through site analytics is like having Steve Jobs himself troubleshoot your machine. An exaggeration? Maybe. But humor us for a moment.
First, you need an app up to the task of monitoring your site’s traffic. There are a few offerings to choose from, but Google Analytics is free, user-friendly and comprehensive enough for most applications. Translation: why mess with a good thing. And did we mention it’s free?
Second, once you are cruising on the almighty information highway of your site’s traffic, you will want to understand that traffic and then put it to work for you. Understanding basic themes and installation procedures does not require much expertise, but the powerful tools come into play when you realize that solid site analytics are a foundation for setting up specific site goals.
Arik Griffin of Circumerro explains: it is absolutely important to monitor your site’s traffic, but the real fun starts when you begin to understand what I call pageviews with a purpose. Once clients understand we can help them set goals (such as downloading a specific informational PDF or converting visits to catalog requests), and that the site analytics provide moving puzzle pieces to achieving those goals, then our expertise really shines. Enlarging, moving or enhancing something as simple as a “download link” can have all the difference in the world and unlock moving parts that help you begin to realize tangible site goals.
By setting goals, monitoring real-time changes and interpreting the traffic results, we are able to help our clients understand how their site design is driving the traffic results and adjust accordingly.
Let’s review. Your site generates traffic. That traffic in its most rudimentary form can be an intimidating string of mathematical formulas. Using site analytics (your handy calculator) is not cheating. In fact, it’s smart. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, figure out how or reach out to someone who does.