Why analytics are vital to your business

By: Matt Bird

Date: 27 May 2011

The majority of UK businesses now have some level of online presence and one of the brilliant things about the digital world is that performance is measurable.

When should a start-up look at this? Yesterday! Never underestimate the value of historical data, especially if your product/service experiences seasonal demand. In its simplest form, historical data can help you forecast peaks and troughs, with significant implications on areas such as your business cashflow or marketing budgets.

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Analytics software (eg Google Analytics) are remarkably easy to install and offer potentially endless performance benefits. To give you a taster, here are three analytics-based tasks to help boost your start-up’s website and business performance.

1 Referral tracking

Any decent analytics programme will tell you where traffic comes from. This can be anywhere from a search engine or marketing email, to someone typing in your website URL into the address bar.

These statistics include what are called “referrals”, essentially, other sites linking to you. Referrals include business directories, comments posted in forums, affiliate sites and links from articles you’ve had published. Knowing where you are getting traffic from allows you to decide where to focus your energy and budget on building traffic, while monitoring brand mentions and opportunities. These brand mentions give you first-hand access to: people mentioning your company; accolades; and complaints.

If someone has had a bad experience with your business, you can get in there early and limit the damage. If someone is telling their friends how great you are, get their permission to use them as a testimonial, ask them what they liked, let as many people as possible know how great you are.

You’ll find plenty of Twitter search tools that complement analytics referral tracking here.

2 Search monitoring

Most analytics packages enable you to track the exact queries being used in your own website’s search bar. This is invaluable customer intelligence. You can see what people are searching for, which pages result in the highest interest, which searches return no results, etc. You can even see trending in market demands. If you monitor spikes in certain terms being used, you can see where the customer interest is heading. The possibilities for this information are huge, and can really help steer your start-up in the direction your customers want – instead of the direction you think they need.

3 What technology your visitors are using

What browser do your visitors use? Are they on a laptop or mobile phone? Knowing how your visitors view your page is important. Imagine the changes you’d make to your marketing plan if you knew most of your traffic came via mobile.

You can also highlight performance issues on your site. I know one update Stinkyink.com released had... let’s just say “interesting”... repercussions for Internet Explorer 6 users, which missed testing, but analytics bought the issue to our attention.

Craving analytics yet?

I hope those points have opened your eyes to the benefits to be gained from analytics, even on a low traffic start-up site. Be inspired and go implement it now – or dust off your analytics package and have a tinker.

Matt Bird of printer cartridge supplier, StinkyInk

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