When you are developing or designing a website you have to imagine to a certain extent how it will be used and what will attract the right kind of visitors to this site. Once the site is up and running the best way to test your theories or to find out where you can make improvements is to have hard data that you can analyze.
There are various ways of gathering information on people who visit your site. You can ask for personal information if the user wants to register but there is no guarantee that the information will be correct and not every visitor will register if they are not required to. The best way to get a definitive and accurate set of data is through visitor tracking. Each visitor to your site however has a web log that can provide very specific and relatively accurate information on everyone that lands on any page of a site.
Web tracking is non invasive since there is no personal information available through the web log. A java script is attached to each page that you want to track and when a visitor opens that page it is used to collect the information from their browser. Most users’ internet preferences will allow this and also allow a cookie to be stored so that they have a unique tracking history. Statistical analysis can then be done either on individual behavior or behaviors can be grouped into certain actions.
The kinds of information that are usually available from a web log are:
• Geographic location or domain
• How the site was reached; from which directory or site they linked through
• Date, time and duration of visit and how often unique visitors returned
• Which page they landed on first and how they navigated from there
• Keywords used in directory searches and site searches
• The users browser and operating system
• Which visitor made a purchase
• At what point did those who initiated a purchase give up before the sale was completed
Other information is available such as the presence of click robots or HTTP errors and the data gather can be interpreted using web log analysis software. This will generate either a tabled list or graphic information that can be used for the following:
• Understanding where your visitors are from and what markets you can accommodate more efficiently
• Establishing peak visiting hours and capacity levels
• Seeing which content and features receive the most attention and what is ignored
This kind of information can also be critical in making improvements that will make a site easier to use more relevant and will drive traffic to and through the most relevant pages. It will show you clearly:
• What keywords are most effective
• Where improvements can be made to the functionality and user friendly ness of the site in order to increase sales
• Which marketing campaigns and directories deliver the best results
Apart from discovering which links are the most valuable to your business the nature of the sights which feed into yours can also give you a lot of other information on your visitors such as their interests and you can even abstract a certain amount of personal information from the other sights that they visit.
Visitor and sales tracking has become and integral part of CRM (customer relations management and helps to determine ROI (return on investment). It can also be used to supplement other forms of interactive information gathering such as blog pages. Although there is no way to link the statistics to information gathered on user forums you can get an idea of how and when they are being used or whether they are being underutilized. Indirectly it can also be used to develop social media marketing.
Affiliate sales tracking software has a slightly different objective and creates more of a two way relationship between affiliates and traders. A different kind of software is required but there are some similarities to ordinary sales tracking. The main difference is that you are not tracking visitors but analyzing the performance of other sights. There are also more functional tools that can be used such as automatically generated e-mails, sales reports and commissions.
If you have a website from which you conduct or facilitate your business activities then the best way to ensure the success of your business is to ensure that your website does not hinder the function of your business in any way. As the web is a constantly evolving environment, it is almost ensured that no site will be created perfectly or in a way that will not need to be changed over time. Without viable information on how your current model is operating you have very little idea of where you can make improvements. In this regard it makes no sense to run any website for a profit if you do not intend to track sales and visitors.