Analytics, much like an engineer’s spanner, is a tool that should fit nicely in every marketer’s belt.

It is used to assess and measure the effectiveness of a website, in turn allowing users to optimise the website or reassess marketing campaigns in order to maximise exposure. Basically it presents and analyses the flow of traffic to and through a website, providing information on the number, type, and quality of visitors.

At first glance, the use of analytics can be a daunting block of numbers and decimals. However, take a good look around and you’ll soon find there is a huge amount of information you can gather that will be of huge benefit to yours or client’s website and subsequently the business.

Here is a breakdown of some of the key terms you’ll need to know when looking at analytics:

The number of times your website is visited.

Page views
The amount of times a visitor views a specific page. If a page is reloaded, it counts as an additional page view.

Bounce rate
The percentage of visits in which the visitor only views one page of the website before leaving. Generally speaking, a high bounce rate may indicate that visitors are not finding the information they are looking for, or the information that led them to the page might be misleading, so they leave straight away.

Visits to the site that come from another site. For example, if people click through to your site from a link on Twitter, the traffic coming from that post is ‘referral traffic’.

If a visitor completes a specific task you have set up, or goal, it is known as a conversion. A goal could be the completion of a contact form, the purchase of an item, or the ordering of a brochure. The conversion rate is the rate at which visitors complete conversions. Let’s say you own a furniture business. You set up the purchase of a chair as a goal. If 100 people visit your site, and 30 of them order that chair, your conversion rate is 30%.

Organic traffic
Traffic that comes from finding the site through a search engine, such as Google.

Types of analytics

Many CMSs come with their own version of analytics already available, or allow the installation of an analytics plugin.

An example of analytics for a site.

Google offers its own analytics service, aptly titled Google Analytics. It is one of, if not the most widely used analytics service, and offers a comprehensive breakdown of direct, organic, referred, and paid traffic to your site – and much more.

An example of a graph in Google Analytics

Other uses of analytics

Analytics allows users to break down traffic by device, so a marketer could see that if most traffic to the site comes from mobile devices or tablets, they can then work with the development team to ensure the site is responsive.

The flow of visitors through the site can be tracked, so a page with a disproportionately high drop-off rate can be examined to see what is causing visitors to leave.

Social media, online and offline campaigns can all be tracked and monitored, with traffic broken down by specific fields and sections, filtered by media and dimensions.

Web analytics is an invaluable tool for businesses and marketers alike, allowing users to analyse the flow of traffic through a website in minute detail. It subsequently allows users to make informed business and marketing strategy decisions, adapt strategies in order to target a specific audience or better serve their existing audience, and generally increase the effectiveness of campaigns.

We’ll be posting more about analytics and how you can use it to benefit your business. If there’s anything specific you would like to know more about, comment below.