The below article is a piece I wrote for Archiboo, you can see the original here.
In the digital space numbers are everywhere. Data is abundant, and easy to capture. The challenge comes from turning these numbers into meaningful information.
Website analysis is a perfect representation of this. While it’s easy to show that in the past month your website has been visited 5,000 times, it tells you very little about who is visiting your website. So you need to make sure that those visitors are people you want to target, such as clients.
So, how can you find out more about who is coming to your website? Here are a few options.
If you don’t have already have Google Analytics installed on your website (or a strong equivalent), then this is where you must start. Google Analytics can tell you a decent amount about behaviour on your website (which I’ll discuss further), and also has some demographic analysis.
For instance, with Google Analytics you can see:
Age and gender demographics
Geographic location – if you’re a local practice in Telford, you probably need to rethink if all your visitors are from Oregon.
Device – useful simply from the perspective of knowing if your website is used by those on mobile (or is it putting mobile users off?).
Interests – Google can provide rough estimates of your visitors’ interests.
It may not be particularly detailed but it’s a very good start.
Where are they going (and where are they from?)
The next thing, which is also something you can do with Google Analytics, is to examine how visitors are using your website.
Focus on the following areas:
You can quite easily see how people are using your website. Are they spending a reasonable amount of time on the site? What are they looking at? All of these are useful insights and also reveal what content resonates with your audience.
You can also go one further and look at where users came from. Are users from Twitter more likely to visit the blog? Do users from search stick around for longer?
Connect the dots
This won’t give you a complete picture, but there are some small, smart things you can do to help understand how certain marketing efforts are driving audiences to your website.
For example, have you done a social media post or campaign targeting a very specific topic and audience? Or, have you sent out an email promoting an upcoming event or a recent piece of content?
In both these cases you should use UTM tracking URLs. To explain, both the below URLs will link to the same place:
From a user perspective it doesn’t make any difference. However, from the perspective of the website owner, they can see in Google Analytics that the user clicked on a specific link that was tagged with a description.
The UTM codes are a way in which to structure these. They help you say things like: this user came from a link in an email I sent in May about design. That way, you can see how many of your website visitors came from a certain campaign.
(Tip: you can easily create UTM URLs here: https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/)
A common tactic (though quite an annoying one) is to ask website visitors to fill in a questionnaire. The most common is a pop-up form. Needless to say, you should think very carefully before you decide to add this to your website. They can be insightful, but you risk frustrating your audience and you also risk skewing your results as only certain types of people will agree to fill it in.
If you do decide to go down this route, be sure to keep it short and try to play with the language so it feels inviting.
There are a few paid tools around which, when used correctly, can provide you with some fascinating details, and some leads that you can instantly follow up – if you’re a B2B business.
Each time a visitor is identified you get a notification with all the related details (location, address, phone number, type of company etc.). This can be insightful, but they can also give you a lead you can then follow up.
Some websites have gone one further. If they are targeting multiple audiences they have multiple home pages – each one optimised for a difference sector. When an audience member visits their website, the platform uses the IP to identify the company and therefore which home page should be served.
Finding out who is visiting your website can be a meticulous process – but it can also offer great rewards if you’re willing to persevere. If you know your audience and how they are using your website, you can better optimise your content and better target your audience.