Do you know what is hands down the most important factor in Internet Marketing? That’s right, it’s tracking your website’s visitors. Even if you have no Online Marketing Strategy in place, at least if you have website statistics in place you can tell if you get any traffic or make any impact in the search engines, blogs, social networks, news sites or through email. Without any type of accurate tracking system you are completely in the dark as to what your site is doing on the Internet.
The simplest form of tracking is visitor tracking which will tell you how many visitors came to your site, where they came from, what pages they visited, how long they were on your site and each page, what browser and operating system they are using, and if they clicked on a link to leave. This is all the most basic information that a tracking system will tell you, but not necessarily the most important. The most important information that a tracking system can log is if these visitors completed one of your online goals.
Goals For Website Tracking and Reporting
This means that the first step in any Internet Marketing strategies should definitely be to define what the goals of your website are. The answer “to get X amount of visitors to it” is a common answer, but is not a goal. What are the visitors supposed to do once they get to your site? Why do you care if they’re on your site in the first place? Some real, measurable goals include:
- Filling out a form or survey
- Sending an email or inquiry form
- Purchasing something on the site
- Clicking through to another website
- Signing up for a newsletter
- Signing up for a membership
- Using your online tool
- Sharing your content or sending an email to a friend through your website
These are all things that could be considered your website’s goals, and each goal can be tracked with a properly configured website and tracking system. When these goals are being tracked as conversions, then you are able to tell which sources of traffic, search engines, blogs, social networks, etc. are sending the most amounts of qualified visitors that are converting and accomplishing your website’s goals. Being aware of the goals of your website, and tracking & reporting the conversions of these goals and realizing the progress will determine the success of your website.
If your company is spending a lot of money on Internet Marketing then “offline”, or “lead tracking” and reporting is also very important to your business. With lead tracking you pass the online visitor data from (say they search for “kitchen & bath manufacturers” on Google and found your paid listing), into your CRM software so that as the lead is automatically entered into your offline software and you can tell what campaign the lead came from. This is very important information because even though you might get a ton of leads from a specific paid traffic source (which you would be able to tell from online conversion tracking), these leads might not amount to anything and be completely untargeted. As you can see, this information would be very valuable as you could cease to purchase this traffic if the leads were not giving you any true return on your investment.
Let’s say your site does have tracking capabilities; do you know how to use them? Tracking software can be very technical and configuring and reading the data is an art unto itself. Most sites are equipped with “Server Statistics” which are provided by your hosting company, but these statistics tell you very little and are not as accurate as other systems. Typically a third party statistics system is used for nearly all tracking and reporting needs. These systems can be free or cost as much as $40,000 a month for just the use of the statistics software alone.
Having someone that can read the data and understand what is going on with your website’s statistics can be worth ten times the cost of some of these expensive tracking software packages. It is great if you have visitor and lead tracking in place, but if you’re not doing anything with the data then what’s the point. Regular, weekly if not daily review of your website’s traffic reports are needed to react quickly to potential opportunities and business opportunities. If all of the sudden you get major press coverage, a largely popular search term result in a search engine etc. you may need to react accordingly by changing your hosting plan, putting a pop-up offer on the popular page or take some other immediate action in order to monetize your good fortune.
During the presidential elections one such event took place that could’ve made one website owner a lot of money had they been tracking, or at least reacted to a monumental change in website visitors. JoeThePlumber.com was receiving a few hundred visitors a month (200-300 total visitors a month), but when the politicians began using the coined term “Joe the Plumber” in ever presidential speech and interview the web traffic for this little website went through the roof. In the month of October alone he received about 160,000 visitors. This traffic, if properly monetized could have made him hundreds of thousands of dollars in just a few short months. If this website’s owner didn’t have tracking installed on his website he would’ve had no clue at the huge influx of traffic or the need to monetize this visitor traffic (assuming he was also living in a cave).
This example shows us how by not doing something as simple as tracking our website’s visitors, we can miss the boat and be left wandering aimlessly through the online world. Without tracking you cannot react to online occurrences like the “joe the plumber” occurrence. Without tracking you can’t improve your website, or justify a proposal to improving your website because you will not know what has been working, what will work in the future or what will not work. Do not invest in any paid Internet Marketing without traffic because you will be throwing darts at a dartboard in the pitch black. Without tracking software and an experienced analyst reading the data Return on Investment cannot be determined effectively. For any questions, or to inquire about DRS & Associates Tracking and Reporting Services feel free to contact us here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org