So, now you’ve made the move. You took a leap of faith and now your company is fully operational on the Internet. The meaning of “operational” may vary according to your business model and your exact product/service, of course. For instance, if you were running a brick-and-mortar supermarket, being operational would mean nothing more than having merchandise, a few staff members and open doors. It would be enough to do business, right?
Uh… arguably, yes.
The placement of products in the shelves has a huge impact on what sells and what doesn’t. Big supermarket chains can magically choose which brand of cereal will be the top-seller, just by rearranging their position. And the main input for the analysts that make these decisions are those harmless security cameras you see on their ceilings. Wading through hours of footage, they figure out what aisles people stare into the most, and then they can do all sorts of interesting changes. Main point being: profit.
But… I thought this was an article about Google Analytics?
It is. And how many articles have you read about Google Analytics that begin with rambles about supermarket organization? The point I’m trying to make here is that overall analytics – whether it’s Google’s or not – is not some weird phenomenon that is restricted to websites, the Internet or other loony worlds that didn’t exist a few years ago. The analogy holds, because your main approach to analytics should be what I call “the supermarket approach”. Think of your web pages as corridors in a store, and operate according to that.
Now, can this be done with tools other than Google Analytics? Probably, yes. Is there any reason to do it? Well, maybe you like to spend money unnecessarily. In short, Google’s toolbox for business owners is unparalleled. They offer great tools in all respects – advertisement, monetization, and analytics, of course – that are integrated into each other, that are free, and that are constantly upgraded to include newer technologies.
I’ll assume you’re sold on Google Analytics (GA) by now, and get your ninja jumpstarted. The path of the GA ninja rests on 4 principles or action items. We are going to jump into 2 for this first part and give you a little time to absorb them & test them out on your own web property.
1. Keep Your Eyes Open
If your website is running on a Content Management System (CMS) like Drupal or Mambo, chances are there will be a multitude of plugins begging to solve your problem. WordPress and WordPress Multiuser are examples of this, and some of their most feature-rich themes even have native support for GA.
Tracking visitors is as important as having your website up.
2. Setup Goal Tracking and Multichannel Funnels
Now that tracking is up and running, you want to establish landmarks that will signal how deep your relationship to the client is. Guys at Google call this figuring out what metrics are important to your business. Having an email newsletter people can sign up to is one such goal, and is exactly what Permission Marketing is all about. Other possibilities are number of pages viewed, time on site and social engagements. I wish I could tell you what’s going to be important to your business but that’s for you to decide. Once you figure out that, setup goals to watch those numbers.
For instance, I may be launching a new widget where in “Phase 1” of my marketing deployment I want people to socially engage and tell their friends about it. I don’t really care about the sale at this point, I just want to get people talking. Based on my goals, I’ll want to keep an eye on how many people are clicking through to my social channels.
If you don’t have any real “goals”, you really just want to know how much time people are spending just looking around your store, or reading your blog posts. These metrics will indicate what are the biggest attractions in your amusement park, how people interact with them before making a purchase, and how people find you online. Once you know that, you can use those as the building blocks to enhancing your online presence.
Since it suddenly feels like we’re back in abstract unintelligible Internet land again, we could probably use a good supermarket example.
Remember those smelly cheese stands right next to the wine section in upscale restaurants? They didn’t exist until a few years ago. Buying expensive wine wasn’t something you’d even think about when going to the supermarket. How those stands came to be is quite surprising. The smelly cheese wasn’t bringing in big sales, plus there wasn’t much profit in them anyway, so supermarket executives would discard them in favor of, say… diapers. What the security cameras showed was that people who buy bottles of wine that cost 300 dollars were the same guys who stopped at the smelly cheese stands.
Big epiphany: put that cheese stand right next to the wines, and think of them as one product. Bam! This is what Multichannel funnels are all about. They’re here to give you this business intelligence.
(I now apologize for not being a refined connoisseur of wine and cheese, and for referring to it as “smelly cheese”.)
Speaking of smelly cheese, go to the supermarket and buy some because we are going to delve into the next two recommendations in part 2 of our ninja series! While you are eating your cheese, sipping on some good wine, and implementing the 2 aforementioned tips, please take some time to discuss your success in the comment portion below so we can help everyone ‘Keep Up With The Web’!