Your customer has an itch and your website needs to be able to scratch that itch. Knowing exactly how to do that is the key to getting visitors to take action on your site. You can use information gathered from web analytics to maximize revenues from pay-per-click advertising, improve click-through on email campaigns, or even increase your search engine ranking. The possibilities are endless.
In its most basic form, web analytics monitors traffic on your website. The information gathered can show you who your visitors are, where they came from, what they did on your site, how long they stuck around, where they exited your site, etc. The best web analytics programs can tell you this, and then some. They can calculate ROI based on campaign goals and monitor social media sites like Twitter and Facebook for chatter about your brand.
So why should you be interested in this information? Well, the only reason your website exists is to prompt someone to take a particular action. This action may be making a purchase, clicking on a link, reading an article, referring a friend; whatever. How do you know if your site is meeting that goal? Can you meet your goals more efficiently or effectively? Do you need to change your game plan? Don’t guess at these answers, know them.
The greatest benefit of web analytics is having the information you need to make better decisions about your website.
Web analytics is essentially the study of website visitor behavior. No matter which solution you decided to use, you want the ability to categorize the collected information in any way you see fit. You also want a good deal of abstraction, so you can focus on the important stuff without having to fight through the clutter. At the end of the day you want information specifically tailored for your website/business. Everything else is just garbage.
Products listed on this site are all capable of monitoring at least 500,000 page views per month. If your site receives less traffic than this we recommend you look at the products reviewed on our Website Traffic Statistic Service review site.
When you are looking for a web analytics solution, here are a few things to consider:
Here is the list of general categories used by TopTenREVIEWS to compare web analytic providers.
Each web analytics program offers a variety of features to help you understand your website visitors better. This section offers a top level view of several features that will be useful in measuring your website traffic.
Web analytics keep track of a large variety of very detailed information regarding who visits a website, what each visitor does on the site (what they click on, pages they view, etc.), and at what point they exit the website.
According to the Web Analytics Association, a referrer is “the page URL that originally generated the request for the current page view or object.” Essentially, this is where your guest came from immediately before arriving on your website.
Report Stat Intervals
Web traffic and other statistics are only useful if they are measurable, and that implies setting applicable date ranges. Whether you need yearly or monthly reports, or details down to the day or hour; it's important that your analytics provider is versatile with reporting dates and the accompanying stats.
According to the Web Analytics Association, an event is “any logged or recorded action that has a specific date and time assigned to it by either the browser or server.”
Web analytic programs keep track of each visitor to your site. This information can be used to identify target audiences, develop campaigns, or learn what might work better to increase conversions. Detailed geographic information about where the visitor is accessing the website from is also available in most cases.
After you compile stacks of data, what do you do with it? Most web analytics programs offer a variety exporting options to meet your specific needs.
Web analytics are very complex. Choosing which one to use on your site is only the first of many steps, so look for a solution that offers product support for a period of time following the initial purchase.
If you combine each of these categories you end up with a web analytics solution that is comprehensive, user-friendly, and cost effective. When the success of your website, and possibly your business hang in the balance, it is extremely important to make an educated decision.
As you can see from the product matrix, most of these products offer many of the same features. The features battle in the web analytics market is pretty much over. Now the challenge is analyzing the complex data collected by these programs and presenting it in a way that is actionable. This information must be easily understood by marketers, CEO’s, IT professionals… pretty much everyone.
Several of the companies we reviewed for this site offer an incredible amount of information in such a way that an average person can understand it. The top contenders have developed graphic user interfaces that take the guess work out of web analytics, and offer a seemingly unlimited combination of reports that are simple to generate and easy to understand. Check out our articles related to web analytics as well as the reviews of our top-ranked products, Coremetrics, Omniture SiteCatalyst and WebTrends.