Some of you might feel that data is a four-letter word because, for you, the mere idea of being subjected to columns and rows of numbers is about as appealing as a week in the torture chamber. Then there are those of you, who instantly feel giddy about the notion of being surrounded with undeniable facts and figures at the mention of data.
I have found over the years that data and analytics conjure up one of two extreme reactions. But love data or hate data, we need to acknowledge that information is power. Data is nothing more than information. If you can measure it, you can manage it. Anything else is guesswork.
Analytics from your website are undeniably the best way to understand how your website is or isn't working for you. And don’t let the word analytics scare you, either. It is simply a fancy way of saying that you need to examine that investment called your website and take a look at how it’s performing. Is it bringing in business or driving it away? Is it providing the right answers and the right solutions, or is it turning your potential clients into a bunch of tire kickers who wander off to the next print provider? The answers to these and many more questions can be found in website analytics.
Whoever hosts your website should include an analytics tool as part of the service. If you haven’t seen any analytics, your first step, of course, is to ask for them. For those of you who are being provided with basic analytics, you might want to take a look at adding analytics software that offers more advanced information. Google Analytics is a good option that drills into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness. There are dozens of others out there as well, so you may want to shop around a little if you feel that you don’t have access to the information you need.
Regardless of what analytics tool you use, let's break down the data and dig into the areas that you want to look at and what to do with that information.
Traffic and Time
What it is: If you are new to website analytics, you may be amazed at the depth of data, yet the information that may seem overwhelming at first glance is probably very basic when compared to what’s being measured online. The basics include total number of visitors, actions that individuals have taken, time visitors spend on the site—from total time for all visits to average time per visit. These numbers represent your starting point for analysis.
The bottom line: Are you getting the bang for your buck? If not, then you might bump up your efforts to get people to your website. Look at the technical side (search engine optimization and keyword usage) and the non-technical aspects of marketing and promotion. If you are getting the traffic, but have a very low time per visit, start looking at ways to compel your Web visitors to stay longer. Web design, content, relevance, and ease of use are all fair game.
What it is: Bounce rate refers to the frequency with which someone exits your site from the homepage without looking at any other pages on the site. Our industry fulfills needs-based purchases, meaning that an individual isn't going to randomly decide they need a direct mail campaign on an impulse. Knowing that we are a needs-based industry, your bounce rate should be relatively low. A healthy bounce rate for an average website for a printing solutions company should be around 20 percent.
The bottom line: If your bounce rate is above 20 percent or so, examine the language your homepage uses. Chances are your site is full of printing jargon rather than the language your customers speak. For example, let's say you use the term four-color printing or offset printing on the homepage. These are words used by the industry, but not necessarily by a print buyer. If visitors cannot relate to what you are saying, they will bounce very quickly. Also, give your visitors a reason to click into other pages. They need to feel at home on your homepage, but if you throw too much at them right away, you might scare them off.