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5 Reasons Small Businesses Should Care About Analytics

With smaller businesses, there can be a lot of ostrich-head-in-the-sand tactics when it comes to talking about analytics. To many, all the seemingly complicated data and numbers can make their eyes cross.

More marketers than you would think have no clue which of their marketing tactics are driving traffic to their sites. They simply throw digital marketing tactics at the wall and hope something sticks. They don’t choose to dive in and see what’s actually happening on their websites.

Having at least a rudimentary understanding of where your web traffic is coming from, what people are doing on your site, and what you could do to improve their experience is absolutely necessary for the health of your company.

Need more reasons?

Your Business’ Success is Tied Directly to What Happens Online

Most marketer rely on web traffic to generate at least a general awareness of their brand. Maybe they don’t sell online, but many people like visiting your site before they come to your physical location so they can learn more about you.

Before I visit a new restaurant, here’s my research process:

    – I Google it,
    – then look for its Yelp page. If it has good reviews, I then…
    – look for its website.

I’m not saying people won’t visit a restaurant with good reviews if it doesn’t have a website, but it is important to many. People want information, and it gives them some confidence to know that a restaurant has invested a bit in creating a web presence.

If you’re putting the effort into having a website, you need to have a good understanding of why you have a website. Is it to provide potential clients with information about your products or services? Get people to buy from your website? How can you effectively compete with everyone else that is getting web traffic?

These are all valid reasons for being active online. Now you just have to see if you’re achieving your goals. After all, if you’re not sure people are visiting your site, how can you know how they found your site, or how you can drive more traffic there?

2. Without Analytics, You’re Wasting Serious Cash

If you invest in Pay-Per-Click ads, write blog posts, Tweet — heck, if you have a $2 website — you’ve invested in the goal of having people find you online. If you don’t know if they’re visiting your site, that money was poured down the drain.

If you don’t pay attention to which keywords you bid on for your PPC campaign are resulting in sales, you’re spending money unnecessarily. If your keywords are specifically targeted to what your business does, people are clicking on the ads and then leaving, because your keyword misled them. Here’s an example.

You run a French restaurant in San Diego. You take out a PPC campaign on Google. You sign up for keywords like

    – French restaurant
    – Bleu Boheme (your company name)
    – French restaurant San Diego
    – French restaurant Kensington (the neighborhood you’re located in)
    – French restaurant Kensington San Diego

Several of these keywords will be a waste of money. Here’s why.

    – French restaurant: too general. There are French restaurants all over the world, so if your ad appears in search results for someone in Africa and they click on your ad, you just lost a few dollars.
    – Bleu Boheme: you should rank at the top of search results for your company name. No need to pay for an ad unless there are other brands with the same name that you’re competing against.
    – French restaurant Kensington: in this example, Kensington refers to a neighborhood in San Diego. But it’s also a neighborhood in London. So someone searching for French restaurant Kensington might actually be looking for London restaurants. They click, you lose.

Remember: searchers aren’t always as savvy as you give them credit for being, so protect your PPC campaign money by zeroing in on the keywords they should be searching for to find you.

How do you know what those are? Analytics.

A quick peek at your Google Analytics dashboard, under Keywords, will tell you exactly what people are searching for and clicking on to navigate to your website. If you want to use these, focus on the words you have fewer traffic from, as you probably rank pretty well organically for the more popular keywords people are clicking on.

3. Analytics Tell You Where You’re Influential

Whether you’re a local business or a geographically-independent one, knowing where most of your web traffic comes from can provide valuable insight.

Back to the French restaurant in San Diego. If, for some reason, this site was getting high levels of traffic from New York or Singapore, the restaurant might want to invest in better SEO so that the keywords found on each page of web copy referred to San Diego in some way. That would cut down on the useless traffic from other cities.

If you’re a virtual company, or one that does business with people worldwide, data about where your web traffic comes from can help you in several ways:

    – target your PPC ads to specific geographic areas
    – include city name in your keywords, i.e. “Phoenix marketing firm”
    – take out online and offline ads in the cities that send the most traffic your way

4. You Can Find Out Why People Leave Your Website

If you’ve got an ecommerce site and can’t figure out why you aren’t selling more online, analytics hold the key. Looking at your Bounce Rate (number of web visitors who leave after viewing just one page) and Exit Pages (where visitors were when they left) can help you improve your website’s functionality and navigability.

Bounce Rate
Why would people leave after viewing just one page, you ask? Several reasons, including:

    – They might have been misled. If they clicked on a search result or PPC ad that led them to believe they would find something different than you actually offer on your site, they’ll leave faster than you can say, “Wait! Don’t go!”
    – They might be overwhelmed (or underwhelmed) with your web design. If you’ve got too much going on, with flashing graphics and too many columns, they’ll decide your site’s not for them, and exit.
    – You have annoying popups. On principle, many people will skedaddle when they see them.
    – Your site takes too long to load.
    – They’re on a mobile device, and your site isn’t mobile-friendly.

Each of these issues can be resolved with a little work.

Exit Pages
Let’s say you sell widgets for $1. You know you’ve got the best widgets and pricing in the market, but you’re not seeing the online sales you think you should. You look at your web traffic, and you’re getting tens of thousands of unique visitors, so that’s not the issue. But people are leaving your site before buying.

You dive into your analytics and see that visitors are actually leaving your site in the middle of the checkout process. Why is that?? You pretend you’re a new customer and go through the steps to complete a purchase. If it takes you 10 pages before you have completed the sale, that’s far too many. There are measures you can take to streamline your checkout experience. Try them, test them, and then see if you increase your conversion rate and boost sales.

5. Analytics Help You Tweak Your Marketing Efforts

Without data on web traffic, sales, and conversions, you can’t truly know which of your marketing strategies, if any, are actually working. You’re once again throwing money down a hole with no idea if it’s benefiting you.

Analytics show you what sites sent traffic to you. A quick look at your Traffic Sources will reveal the top sites that send traffic to your website.

Content Marketing
If you know that your guest blog on Mashable sent you 55% of last month’s traffic, you should pitch to write another post. If your press release created a spike in traffic, write another one. If, on the other hand, your PPC or other tactics didn’t net as much traffic as you would have liked, or they didn’t result in enough sales to justify the expense, consider nixing them.

Social Media
Knowing what’s working for you on social media, as well as what your competitors are doing there, is also gold.

Keeping a close eye on what’s working and what’s not helps you stay nimble when it comes to your marketing mix, and allows you to quickly change out less effective resources for better ones.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed With the Data Available
Now that you see the light and understand that analytics are an instrumental component in the success of your brand, you head over to your Google Analytics page. There are a ton of options there, and far more data than many know what to do with.

You don’t need to pay attention to everything. Keep in mind: highly sophisticated analytics professionals also use dashboards like this, so there’s something for everyone.

It is important to pick out what you truly care about, and what will net you immediate results if you act upon. If you want to increase traffic, pay attention to how people find your site. If you want to increase conversion, look at Exit Pages and Bounce Rates.

As you become more comfortable in using analytics, you can extend your reach. You don’t have to be a tech guru to understand what you need to know about your website and its traffic.


Chris Sparks, iSpionage Director of Marketing
Chris is an online marketing and content strategist here at iSpionage building awareness and engagement within our target markets. Connect with Chris or on Twitter.