Imagine an owner of a traditional shop. He has his displays arranged perfectly. His shop is stocked and ready to sell. But just as the doors are opening, he dons a blindfold. Crazy, you say. Why, he won’t be able to know what’s working for his customers and what isn’t. He’ll have no information at all about how his business is actually doing. The only thing he’ll know is when the door opens and when the cash register cha-chings.
You might think our shop keeper friend is putting himself at a disadvantage with his blindfold. Yet this same scenario plays out every day in countless online stores. The standard set of analytic tools most websites use provide only part of the picture.
Website Analytics: The Blindfold Basics
Most websites employ analytics to track activity on their site. The basic analytics toolbox allows you to see which pages customers visit on your site. Additional features allow site owners to use pageview data to optimize their site, which we discuss below. In each of these cases, however, the site owner remains blindfolded to whatever user activity happens while a customer is on a webpage.
Tracking pageviews is the most basic way to analyze your site. Connecting a tool like Google Analytics to your site allows you to see what pages your users are landing on and viewing. You can also see additional demographic information based on user location, web browser and device information.
Analytics tools also allow you to track goals by defining desired outcomes and tracking your achievement. You have a goal of signing up customers for a newsletter. In the registration process, you display a confirmation page after a customer signs up. When the user views the confirmation page, your analytics will show a goal completion. Combining goal tracking with pageviews shows the visitor flow across different pages on your site: where they land, where they go next and where they drop off. A well designed set of goals optimizes customer engagement on your site.
If you sell online, your ecommerce data show how many sales you have made, what your revenue is, etc. Including ecommerce in your goal tracking ties pageviews to revenue. Like our shop keep in his blindfold, you can hear the customer enter your store and you can hear the cash register ring them up. But you are still oblivious to customer behavior inside the store — data which can be used to optimize customer engagement and revenue even more.
Event tracking codes can be embedded into almost any element on a webpage. This includes, but is certainly not limited to:
- Clicking on page elements (e.g., buttons)
- Adding or removing products from the shopping cart
- Viewing recommendations, user reviews or additional information in the cart
- Downloading free trials
- Opening invoice files
- Entering coupon codes
- Viewing specific elements (e.g., a don’t-leave-layer)
- And more …
Basic analytics provide you only so much data. Including event tracking codes on your site is like removing the blindfold from the shop keeper’s eyes. You no longer have to rely on a turnstile tally of how many users landed on your pages, because you can observe every action your customers take inside the page.