What Are Your Best Customers Doing on Your Web Site?

  |  July 12, 2005   |  Comments

Knowing how customers behave on your Web site can improve sales, marketing, and even the site itself.

Do you know who your best customers are? Do you know how much they buy, and when they buy it? Do you know how they use your Web site?

A few years back, an organization (whose name I cannot recall) ranked all of the airline Web sites from best to worst. The site that ranked best did so largely because it was one of the few that actually had flight and fare-finder information on the first page.

Many other sites had nice-looking home pages. But to get the information wanted, you had to spend extra time on that home page. That really wasn't nice. It increased the time needed to find the desired information.

I know the guys who designed and built the best site. They decided to put this useful information and functionality on the home page because it was obvious to them it should be there. They knew from examining their log-file data these pages were the most frequently visited, and they wanted to make the site as easy to use as possible. So they used the data and made an informed decision to put the flight and fare information on the home page.

Do you know how your best customers use your Web site? Which site aspects should be on the home page? Does the answer differ for different types of customers? Is your site different for different customers?

The answer to "How do your best customers use your site?" has implications for not only your site's design but also your product offerings and overall marketing.

Details on how to answer the question are a bit too complex to answer completely in one short column. The solution involves discussions between sales and marketing groups, data warehouse groups, data analysts, and the Webmaster group.

The marketing folks must clearly define who the best customers are. Often (this always surprises me) they don't know. The data warehouse group provides the data to help shape this definition, then the Webmaster group engineers a method to track the online behavior of those customers.

The method of tracking must include some type of identifier. It could involve some combination of a user identification number, cookie ID number, or IP address. This identifier is then tracked along with the Web page visiting information, sometimes called clickstream or path data.

Clickstream data is written into the raw Web log file and to a special database table developed for tracking Web site behavior. Analysts, who use different software, depending on analysis complexity, then analyze the data.

The software from ClickTracks, which won the 2003, 2004, and 2005 ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards, does a great job letting marketers extract this type of useful information from their data. It's easy to use and delivers good insight into your data.

WebTrends also breaks down which pages are most visited from every other page in a site, which is helpful in understanding how a site is used.

Omniture SiteCatalyst goes a step further and allows "path analysis," which investigates full paths users take through your Web site. This capability is available as part of an add-on module to the base software.

Two companies that no longer exist, Accrue and Personify, attempted to analyze customers paths. Personify assets were acquired by Accrue, which in turn recently reemerged as Datanautics. Time will tell how helpful its new offering will be.

Regardless of the software used, information extracted from the analysis should help improve your marketing. Some of your best customers may always visit a certain area of your site. That may mean it should be featured more prominently on the site. Your best customers might use certain services on your site. These should be featured in your marketing. They might look for more information on certain products. Maybe you should feature that information in your sales efforts.

Your best customers might be doing all these things... but do you know if they are?

Today's column ran earlier on ClickZ.

ClickZ Live Toronto On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Register today!

ClickZ Live San Francisco Want to learn more? Join us at ClickZ Live San Francisco, Aug 10-12!
Educating marketers for over 15 years, ClickZ Live brings together industry thought leaders from the largest brands and agencies to deliver the most advanced, educational digital marketing agenda. Register today and save $500!


Brian Teasley Brian Teasley is the leader of Teasley, a consultancy that helpsadvertisers, marketers and advertising agencies use data and analysis toimprove their marketing campaigns. Brian has over 14 years experience inengineering and marketing, and has worked for numerous Fortune 100companies. Brian also teaches a marketing course at New York University. Heholds a M.S. degree in Applied Statistics from Iowa State University and aBA in Mathematics and a BA in Mathematics and Statistics from St. OlafCollege.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Analytics newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!



Featured White Papers

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.

Paid Search in the Mobile Era

Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.