There's more to Web analytics than holding a clicker and counting the number of people who come to your site and watching where they go.
Web analytics is about learning everything you can about your visitors, their intentions and needs. With a deeper understanding of how they use your site, you can tweak it to guide them not only to information they are seeking, but to your "call to action" -- whether that's buying a pair of shoes or contacting a real estate agent about a listing.
...Perhaps the best-known tool for gathering Web site metrics is Google Analytics. But competitors like Visistat and Woopra cater to real estate professionals, and claim to provide more sophisticated capabilities in a more user-friendly format...
Visistat and Woopra even allow users to watch what visitors are doing on their Web sites in real time.
"It's possible to connect behaviors to who people are by their activities," Cyberhomes' Frame said. "You can say, 'Here is someone who's been here before -- are they doing the same thing, or monkeying around?'"
Using the example of the live conversation feature found in Woopra and other live chat website services, the author, Matt Carter, who previously covered Woopra in Woopra is in demand, explains a key benefit for real estate and service businesses online:
Frame offered an example of the kind of unexpected lessons that can be gleaned from a deeper understanding of users' behavior. While real estate Web site traffic may decline on the weekend, engagement goes up, he said.
That's because visitors have entered the WWW zone -- wine, women and weekends -- "When the kids are in bed and there's no pressure to get up the next day, so you pour a glass of wine and cruise your favorite real estate site."
If this engaged visitor is serious, "They will want to talk to a live person" even if it is 10 p.m., Frame said. The upshot is brokers need to make sure their agents can be reached through their Web site at odd hours.
In my recent presentation on Woopra and web analytics at WordCamp Las Vegas, I talked about the statistics that often distract us as they have little value and really little use, yet we become obsessed studying them. The article also makes some of those same points:
- Too much emphasis is made on "above the fold" content and design when the impact of those who make it "below the fold" is greater. They cared enough to read through to the bottom, so reward them when they get there.
- Ask. Stats only give you so much information. If you want information, ask your readers. Have surveys and polls on your site.
- When evaluating how long visitors are staying on a page, do you think about what the page is delivering? What content really keeps them there and why?
- Bounce rates don't provide enough information. Focus on landing pages. Where are they landing on your site is more important than where they exit. Maybe they got the information they needed and are done, leaving with gratitude. Where they land tells you what caught their interest to make them click through for more.
- Quit giving page views credit. Visitors, especially unique and return visitors, mean more than traffic hits. If a visitor can't find what they are looking for, they may click all over the place. If they found what they want, they leave happy after visiting one page. Which do you want? Which is really more important?
- System stats are useless information except when you are redesigning your site or writing about system trends, then that information only relates to your site and not the world trend.
- It's not what sites send you the most traffic but which sites send you the best traffic for conversion rates.
There are a lot of numbers we obsess over without fully understanding their importance to your website, content, and business efforts online. Are you being distracted by distracting statistics?