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Advanced Web Analytics: Beyond Page Views for Better ROI

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No matter which web analytics program you’re using, you can go beyond the dashboard and basic reports to get a better picture of your site’s performance and increase ROI. You can’t manage it if you don’t know about it, so here are five tips to dig deeper.

1. Identify Poorly Performing Pages

Use the content or landing page reports to find pages that have both high entrances and a high bounce rate. These pages are costing you a lot of visitors - and money if those visitors are coming from advertising channels. Compare these to the pages that have lower bounce rates, and then optimize for better performance.

You should also look at the pages with a high exit rate (usually called ‘Top Exit Pages’), as these are also good candidates for optimization, especially if these pages are designed to sell or have the visitor take another action.

2. Filter and Label Visitors

Visitor data is a gold mine. To drive site improvement, you need to really understand who your visitors are, where they’re coming from, and what they’re doing (or not doing) on your website. Use segmentation to group not only new and returning visitors, but where they are entering and through what source. Most programs allow you to do this with filters or custom reports.

Once you define your segments, you can analyze the behaviour of each segment, such as time on the site browsing or purchasing/subscribing conversions. You can reverse the process by using a little bit of additional coding to label a visitor when they complete a certain action on your site. Then you can see where those visitors came from, and what keywords they used, to help you optimize your campaigns and content.

3. Monitor Abandonment

You can use funnels to map out the buying process on your e-commerce site. Understanding where people bail out allows you to analyze a step that may be confusing or overwhelming, and then modify or eliminate it. And by constantly monitoring changes in the funnel, you can easily tell what’s working - and what’s costing you customers.

4. Track Error Pages and Broken Links

And fix them. Why? Because frustrating your visitors with non-existent pages (404 errors) is a sure-fire way to lose them. Again, you’ll need to install an extra bit of code to track these (there are many plug-ins and services available), but the effort is well worth it.

Once you’re tracking 404 errors, including referring links (which are the biggest culprit, leftover from campaigns run in the past or links to your site you’ve forgotten about), you can set about applying 301 permanent redirects to the affected pages. This will bring visitors to another page of your choosing – and keep them on your site.

5. Measure the Success of Site Search

If your website offers an internal site search, the analysis of this data is simple - and can be highly effective. Understanding your visitors’ intent is one of the most enjoyable aspects of web data analysis, and the data is easy to get, to understand, and to act on.

Instead of using the navigation, many people – trained by search engines and large retailer sites – now jump straight to the site search to find what they want. The data that site search generates is a way to see into the minds of your visitors. Instead of analyzing what people saw, you can find out what they wanted to see, in their own words.

First, find out how many people are using your site search. Most programs show usage as a percentage. Best practices indicate that anything more than about 5% makes your site search one of the most used navigational elements on your website. Next, look at what they typed in – you might be surprised. Perhaps they are looking for content you’re not providing, or maybe there are popular products you could be promoting.

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Kristina SmithKristina Smith is an Associate Writer with Single Entry Point Marketing. She brings 9 years of experience in online marketing, brand building, and copywriting, specializing in the advertising, publishing, and travel industries. She spends her free time blogging and channeling her inner chef in the kitchen. Contact Kristina via email at