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Analytics: Learn to love your server logs

Your server log files and data collected by analytics software tools are the key to unlocking your website's performance secrets. They are the most important resource a website owner has; and when analyzed and interpreted correctly they will provide you with vital information about every little detail, every step a visitor takes on your site.

Analyzing your visitors' behavior is crucial when trying to identify performance and conversion issues: Are they staying or are they leaving immediately? Do they complete the checkout process the way you intended it or are they straying or even abadoning their shopping carts?

Where do they come from? How did they find you? Do the keywords they entered in a search engine query box relate to your content? Do they find what they were looking for?

These and many more questions can be answered by implementing a visitor tracking strategy and analyzing the results.

Know what to measure

Most website owners who are new to visitor tracking and website analytics simply don't know what they're looking for and therefore apply irrelevant metrics and end up interpreting the available data incorrectly.

While the number of hits does have some relevancy (when trying to assess loading time, for example), looking at only this number will most certainly give you the wrong impression. Unfortunately this is exactly how most people try to measure their site's success.

Knowing which metrics to apply to a certain section of your website will depend on the particular goal for that section; but unless your site only has one page and you are only selling one product don't just focus on the sale. Most likely there are many more portions of your website that are of value to your business (if they are not, why have them?) so it's only fair to assign a value to those parts as well.

Analyze this: Get to know your users

Only 2% of actions on websites are conversions or actions directly related to the conversion process (like entering the shipping information during the checkout process), the remaining 98% are other kinds of user interactions.

The analytics software included in your PPC campaign will tell you that someone clicked on your ad and that - if implemented - a predefined conversion resulted from that click. But that's where the reporting ends as well. If the conversion doesn't take place it does not tell you why or where the user exited your site before taking the desired action. Therefore you can never implement appropriate countermeasures to improve your user's experience.

A professional implementation of user tracking combined with optimization tests can provide you with much needed answers: By tracking a user's path through your website you can easily identify stumbling stones in the process and its desired result and take action — maybe by simplifying the process, or by streamlining the experience. Perhaps by removing certain elements or test and apply another tactic to eliminate these and other inhibiting factors.

Analyzing the users' post-click behavior, testing different versions of your landing page, testing segmentation on your landing page, and further optimization by constantly evaluating the clickstream are time-consuming, but highly effective methods to improve your website's performance.

Talk to us today and start using your visitors' data to your advantage.

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