By: Jim Cain, Founder of Napkyn
As the founder of a company that does business analysis, I spend a lot of time talking to online retailers about how they get paid. Whether you run a one person retail operation or a 2000 person retail chain, everyone gets paid the same way – when someone buys something from you.
You might be thinking that this is a pretty obvious statement, but it can often be lost when you are trying to tie web analysis into your retail plans. There are so many numbers that are being generated in your reports that you can literally drown in interesting data. “Our bounce rates are really high!” “Our pageviews are really low!” It’s for this reason that so few online retailers actively use their web analytics to make decisions – all that data muddies the decision making process.
Here are a few painful truths about web analytics:
- Data is data. It is without value if it isn’t made applicable to how you run your business, and how you make decisions.
- Winning means competing on analytics. If there is an online retailer who you compete with who actively uses data to make decisions, they will beat you.
In a broad sense, web analytics includes any data that you can analyze which is generated from the web. This could include analyzing your twitter influence to see how you are creating a community of potential prospects, analyzing your direct competitors to see patterns in their traffic, products or prices, or analyzing trends in what people are looking for on Google so that you can plan for SEM accordingly. All of these types of data are valuable, and I strongly encourage that you examine them, as long as you take into account that for a small business, the data that will be generated is of low value (spending time looking at your 59 twitter followers isn’t the most effective use of your time in growing your business).
By far, the biggest bang for your buck is in properly implementing a traditional web analytics tool. These tools work exclusively inside your website and measure all the activity into and inside your store. Google Analytics (which most of you use or will use) is the best example of this type of tool, and if you haven’t set it up yet go do so now – it really is that important.
Once you have set up a web analytics tool on your site, it’s time to tinker with it so that you can make the data it is generating speak to you in your language – not vice versa. This can be done in a variety of ways, like tracking all your marketing campaigns properly, tracking the unique ‘events’ that visitors can trigger on your site, and looking at specific ‘goals’ in terms of successful visitor behavior.
For this blog we are going to focus in on three segments of traffic that are worth examining on their own, and can be used as high value performance metrics on how effective your online business is at creating the sales relevant engagement. We have included links with each segment – if you are using Google Analytics, you can click on each link to automatically add this segment into your account. Adding the segment is as simple as:
- Being logged into Google Analytics
- Clicking the link to the segment
- Ensuring the link is visible in the correct profiles (at the bottom)
- Then hitting ‘Create Segment’
1. Visitors Who Saw a Product PageThis segment is a great performance indicator of how effective your website is at getting someone to the critical step of looking at a product. It doesn’t matter how pretty your store is, if no one looks at a product no one is going to buy anything. Look at this segment alongside “All Visitors” in Google Analytics to get a ratio of the people who looked at a product from the people who walked in the door. Increasing this ratio will directly affect your sales.
Custom Segment Link: Visitors who visit a product page
2. Visitors From Non Branded SearchOne of the most important things that an ecommerce site sells is trust. If I have never heard of a small retailer before, can I really trust them with my credit card information? Visitors who use branded search terms (i.e. your companies’ name) are most likely in a trusting relationship with you already. Breaking out the visitors who have most likely never heard of you before can give you great visibity into how you are performing at creating trust.
Custom Segment Link (edit custom segment with your brand name): Visitors from non-branded search
3. Visitors From Non Tablet MobileThere is a prebuilt custom segment in Google Analytics called ‘Mobile Visits’. As a concept, this segment is very valuable, as it is shows how visitors from mobile devices use and convert on your ecommerce site. In practice though, it is very flawed because of the inclusion of tablets. The difference in user experience between an iPhone and an iPad is significant. Tablet conversion rates will be quite close to your standard ecommerce conversion rate – a tablet is really just a laptop with no keyboard as far as user experience is concerned. Removing these types of devices will give you a much more accurate understanding of the effectiveness of your website at converting mobile visitors. (and I bet it isn’t good).
Custom Segment Link: Visitors from a non-tablet mobile device
Spend a little time looking at how people use your store. Once you get better at it, you can raise sales, cut costs and beat the competition.
By Jim Cain, who started Napkyn in 2008. Napkyn provides the value of a senior business analyst, or a support team for an existing analyst. Jim is responsible for the structure of the Analyst Program, the productized business analysis services offering delivered to all Napkyn clients.