How does traffic arrive at your site? Which users make up that traffic? How do users interact with your site? And what are the results of their visits? You gotta know.
The Web is the only channel that allows you to track practically everything that your customers do when interacting with your business, giving you ample opportunity to learn more about them and their needs.
Proper analysis of your Web traffic will tell you more than just whether your Web site is realizing its design objectives. It can tell you about the real motivations and behaviors of your customers, because people are true to themselves behind the curtain of the Net. Furthermore, it can provide you with important information that you can use to predict the likely outcome of your future activities, such as product launches.
The question of what to look for when doing your Web site traffic analysis depends on what aspect of your interactions with customers you would like to find out about. Therefore, your business needs to develop a set of metrics aimed at measuring the performance of your Web site in attracting and interacting with your customers.
In a nutshell, Web site traffic analysis is about collecting, analyzing, and interpreting the following data:
The results of the analysis should help you to do the following:
More specifically, the following are some of the things you can achieve:
Those are only some of the information and benefits that you can derive from traffic analysis. It is obvious from this list that analysis must not be seen in isolation from the rest of your business. It must be an integral part of how you run your business.
(This article has focused on traffic, not the technical performance of a Web site. Although technical performance is interlinked with the experience of the online audience, I have separated them because they require different skills. Technical analysis is a topic in its own right and has the objective of ensuring robustness, availability, and the correct display of information in browser software and different screen resolutions.)
If your business uses, or plans to use, an online platform as part of delivering value to its customers, you need to develop analysis metrics and regularly collect, analyze, and interpret your Web site traffic data. Doing so will equip you with important information to keep you abreast of what your customers are demanding and to position your business for the future.
Next time, two limitations of Web site traffic analysis tools.
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Hurol Inan is a Freelance eBusiness Consultant, focusing on strategic planning and Web application effectiveness. He is currently advising an interactive strategy, design, and implementation company called The Eclipse Group. He has 11 years of management consulting experience with Andersen Consulting and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.
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