When you are designing a website you have to imagine to a certain extent how it will be used and what will attract the right visitors to your site. Once the website is up and running, the best way to test your theories or to find out where you can make improvements is to have data that you can analyze.
There are various ways of collecting information on people who visit your website. You can ask for personal information if the user wants to register but there is no guarantee that the information will be correct and not every visitor will register if they are not required to. The best way to get a definitive and accurate set of data is through visitor tracking. Each visitor to your site however, has a weblog that can provide very specific and relatively accurate information on every visitor that lands on any page of your website.
The kinds of data that are usually available from a weblog are:
- Geographic location or domain.
- How the site was reached; from which directory or site they linked through.
- Date, time and duration of visit and how often unique visitors returned.
- Which page they landed on first and how they navigated from there.
- Keywords used in directory and site searches.
- The user’s browser and operating system.
- Which visitor made a purchase.
- At what point did those who initiated a purchase give up before the sale was completed.
Other information is available such as the presence of click robots or HTTP errors and the gathered data can be interpreted using web log analysis software. This will generate either a tabled list or graphic information that can be used for the following:
- Understanding where your visitors are from and what markets you can accommodate more efficiently.
- Establishing peak visiting hours and capacity levels.
- Seeing which content and features receive the most attention and what is ignored.
This kind of information can also be critical in making improvements that will make your website easier to use, more relevant, and will drive traffic to and through the most relevant pages. It will show you clearly:
- What keywords are most effective.
- Where improvements can be made to the functionality and user-friendliness of the site in order to increase sales.
- Which marketing campaigns and directories deliver the best results.
Apart from discovering which links are the most valuable to your business, the insights that can also give you a lot of other data about your visitors such as their interests. You can even abstract a certain amount of personal information from the other sites that they visit.
Visitor and sales tracking has become an integral part of CRM (customer relations management and helps to determine ROI (return on investment). It can also be used to supplement other forms of interactive information gathering such as blog pages. Although there is no way to link the statistics to information gathered on user forums you can get an idea of how and when they are being used or whether they are being underutilized. Indirectly it can also be used to establish social media marketing.
Affiliate sales tracking software has a slightly different objective and creates more of a two-way relationship between affiliates and traders. A different kind of software is required but there are some similarities to ordinary sales tracking. The main difference is that you are not tracking visitors but analyzing the performance of other sights. There are also more functional tools that can be used such as automatically generated e-mails, sales reports, and commissions.
If you have a website from which you conduct or facilitate your business activities then the best way to ensure the success of your business is to ensure that your website does not hinder the function of your business in any way. As the web is a constantly evolving environment, it is almost ensured that no site will be created perfectly or in a way that will not need to be developed over time. Without viable information on how your current model is operating, you have very little idea of where you can make improvements. In this regard, it makes no sense to run any website for a profit if you do not intend to track sales and visitors.