The benefits of web analytics for small businesses

Website analytics can provide an organisation very rich data about the performance of its website and marketing campaigns allowing for quick tweaking to strategies and implementation of promotions in real time.

So why do so few companies, especially small businesses use it?

In a study in the United States it was discovered that less than 30% of small businesses use website analytics, call tracking, or coupon codes and 18% of small businesses admit to not tracking anything.[1]

Although measurement is an important part of maintaining a website it is often neglected when it is first created[2], this is especially true for small businesses that see a website as a means to an end, an extension to their business – not a separate entity to be managed and monitored.

As part of the assignment on a Company Report for this subject -working with a small company operating out of the Queen Victoria Market – my first question, knowing they had a website was “what sort of traffic do you get to your website?”

The proprietor was unable to answer this most basic question – which is the number of visitors to her site – let alone understanding where the traffic came from, how much of her business was repeat sales, etc.

Clearly from as discovered from the research above, this is not an isolated incident.

A survey conducted by Calther and Stern (2008)[3] identifies that the main obstacles in analysing web data as in organisations is due to

  1. Lack of qualified personnel to do the work (31%)
  2. Data overload (19%)
  3. Lack of technical resources (19%)

It is understandable therefore to understand – how a small business enterprise – that is not particularly web or tech savvy could fail to use web analytics as a tool to improve their marketing.

In my experience working with small organisations and websites – the completed website is often seen as the “completion of a project” rather than an ongoing tool requiring maintenance and feedback loops.

Small businesses don’t have to be tech savvy to use web analytics to improve their businesses.

At the very basics business owners should know how to track their website traffic to

  1. How many people are coming to your site – and where customers are coming from – are they coming via a Facebook link, google search, other promotions.   Once you know where you are getting your website traffic – you can use this information to inform decisions on where to advertise your website for the best return on investment.  It also always to better calculate the cost of acquis ion
  • Which pages are they going to – understanding what pages your customers are going to can assist in understanding what products and services your customers are most interested in, and those that they are not interested in?
  • Time on site – the amount of time people spend on your site or the “stickiness of the site” can provide an indication of the engagement your customers have with your brand and your offerings
  • Items added to cart (but not purchased) – this information can help identify problems in the purchase process on the website.  Are there barriers to the purchase being made?  What pages are the exiting?  This might help to identify problems with your system or issues of security perceived by your consumers.  Perhaps they need an incentive to purchase – such as an offer made by email offering a percentage off or free shipping.
  • Test the effectiveness of different messaging – web analytics can demonstrate in real time how consumers are responding to messaging in different media by measuring their clicks into your website.  This can allow you to discover the most effective messaging and media to use in future campaigns.

As there is much to be gained by businesses using website analytics – this needs to be a large consideration when making a website for your own company or behalf of someone else.

Tools such as Google Analytics – which are not technically challenging for top line findings should be part of every website built for a small business, as well as a session on how to use it and what it can do for their company.

A website is not meant to be a static entity. – it is meant to be displayed, measured, tweaked, and re-displayed with knowledge derived from studying who is coming to the website and how they use it.  Analytics make a site better and improve the consumer experience which hopefully results in more sales.

[1], Betsy McCloud, October 2, 2018

[2] Chaffey et al. (2006) Internet marketing 

[3] ibid

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