From DM News’ Special Report on Web Analytics: Are Your Analytics Tools Working For or Against You?

Web site analytics tools should be a ‘no brainer’ when it comes to online marketing, however leveraging these tools to the best of their abilities takes some consideration. Is the tool you’re using set up correctly? Are all your online “doors” working properly, and why are your numbers different from those generated by the Web sites you advertise with? These seemingly straightforward questions take time and conversation to work through. Finding the answers will provide measurable results for your online metrics every time.

Proper setup and conscious maintenance of analytics tools will provide you with a powerful tool. Like any metric, making sure you’re measuring the right items and in the correct way is crucial. Most analytic tools require you to delve into Web site coding — imbedding a piece of tracking code into each page of the site you wish to monitor. As marketers, this sounds like a frightening prospect but in reality is fairly straightforward.

Your IT or Web development staff can tackle this task with little effort or your analytics supplier should be able to guide you.

Make sure all pages of the site you wish to collect traffic numbers for have this piece of code, including new or updated pages and those that have been relocated within the Web site architecture.

Once your Web site is coded properly, you can pay attention to the links that are bringing visitors in. Are the links working properly? Have the landing pages been relocated? Since these links are the “doors” to your site, make sure they let people in.

[DM News’ Special Report on Web Analytics is available as a PDF file. To download the article click here or on the image.]/P>

It’s often frustrating that the numbers your analytic tool provides and those of the companies you advertise with don’t match up. In fact, you don’t want them to match up; comparing these two sets of data is extremely helpful. Web sites that you advertise with will (or should) record every click, regardless of broken links, “tire kickers” and those that accidentally clicked on your links. You most likely won’t receive a report with the number of clicks in these categories spelled out for you, however if your own site data is far lower, then you know one of the above situations is occurring, and can take steps to remedy the situation.

Let’s look at another example. Analytics tools ignore search bots – those automated pieces of software that scour the Internet logging and indexing the online world – but Web sites you advertise with may track and report this. You want these bots to visit your Web site so knowing how many search engines have recently indexed your site is useful information. For starters, each search bot visit is a direct boost to your organic search engine optimization efforts. Secondly, this information is useful when planning ad buys with search engines.

Understanding your Web site analytics tool, how to effectively use it and how to reconcile your data with that of the sites you advertise with, are crucial steps to evaluating online marketing programs. Making sure these tools are used to the best of their ability will provide valuable information you’ll be able to use in all your online marketing efforts.

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