So much attention is given to generating traffic that it’s not uncommon for the scales to be completely unbalanced when it comes to the other, no less important, operator in the traffic management equation – monitoring. Monitoring traffic enables you to know who is visiting your website, where they are coming from and where they are going within your site. One of the most important things you can do in terms of significantly increasing your revenue is to monitor your web traffic because it gives you greater insight into the habit and behaviors of your users. With such information you can target your efforts in the most productive way, i.e. doing more of what works and less, or cutting out altogether, things that do not or aren’t as productive.
If you are new to the idea of monitoring the traffic to your website (and you will be surprised at how many site owners don’t actively monitor their website statistics), start by asking yourself these basic question.
- How many visitors do you get to your website (daily, weekly monthly etc.)? Traffic is the reigning monarch of the Internet. Today websites are valued based on the number of visitors. Indeed a website without traffic is like the moon landing without TV coverage – it doesn’t matter how awesome it is, if no one can see it, it’s pointless! Numbers are important because they can establish a baseline against which you can monitor growth in relation to your marketing investment in your website.
- What’s the average number of page views per visitor? – The higher the number the more likely visitors are finding your site useful as it suggests that the average user is delving deep inside the site to find information. Visitors normally only do this when they are engaged by a website’s information. Otherwise they leave quickly.
- What’s the average time a visitor spends on your website? The general rule of thumb is the longer a visitor spends the more interested they are in your company and therefore are more likely to convert or contact you.
- How long do visitors spend on each page, what is the average amount of time a page is viewed? The follow up question to this is what pages are viewed the most. Knowing this will tell you if your critical pages, i.e. the ones with your key information or calls to action are receiving the attention you hoped for.
- When is your site the busiest? – Knowing the most popular viewing time of your website site will give an indication of when would be the best time to promote a campaign, post new content or conversely when to perform maintenance.
- What are the most popular landing pages, i.e. the pages first visited when people come to your site? The first page viewed will tell you which are the pages that are most attractive to visitors.
- What pages do visitors leave the website from? – The most requested exit pages could help you identify pages with broken links, unpopular information as well as ones with popular external links.
- How do people navigate the website from entry to exit? This will show you the most popular sequence of pages viewed by visitors from beginning to end. This will tell you if people are navigating through your site in a way that misses the most important information.
- From where are visitors referred? Tracking the sources of your traffic enables you to determine your most effective links and search engines. This is particularly helpful if you are using any form of paid traffic services such as pay per click as it will help you assess whether you are getting value for money.
Your answers will help you evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. However, with so many monitoring tools both free and paid for on the market, how do you decide what’s the best way to monitor your website? The intelligent answer is to start with, or rather come back to, the information you want and reason why you want it, then go from there. A common complaint against analytical tools and perhaps a reason why monitoring can end up on the do-some-day list is that they provide too much data in a complex manner which makes interpretation time consuming.
Most analytical tools will show you which search engines are sending people to your website and what they put into their search bar that results in your website showing up as the answer. In addition to showing you what people do to find your website via a search engine; the more sophisticated of the tools can also:
- Monitor exactly how far down the page visitors scroll so that you can rearrange elements on the page to take advantage of visitor behavior.
- Record every mouse click (or touch of the screen on mobile devices). Knowing whether your visitors interact with images, text or even dead space will show you what is being looked at and what is being ignored. Invaluable if you have ad banners or links to calls to action.
- Provide data on mouse movements, which given the 85% correlation between eye movements and mouse movement will tell you what your visitors are looking at so you can assess whether this is where you have put your critical information.
If you are yet to be convinced of the importance and benefits of monitoring – the thing that brings the performance home for me is that monitoring is invaluable in terms of getting to know your customers.
Despite how tempting and essential you believe your products and services to be, not everyone is going to stop by your website and purchase them. However monitoring your website traffic allows you to track where web users go and what they do on your site. As a result you can make changes to your site based on their behavior using hard data as your foundation rather than random guesses. Knowledge is truly power when applied to web monitoring as even the basic tools enable you to track conversions (sales) and map out the steps leading to conversions in a way no offline medium can.