Chris’s Octopress Blog

A blogging framework for hackers.

Why You Should Love ‘Analytics’

Analytics used to be the tool of only the largest companies with time and resources to dedicate staff to the task. It also required expensive software and dedicated servers and databases, to gather and log the information.

Now, all this power (information – knowledge is power, after all!) is accessible to anyone, and best of all, for free.

Analytics is, very simply put, information about your website. But that description really doesn’t do the subject justice. This information, interpreted correctly, can be used for so much more than just your website, it can apply to your whole business. It can be an insight into your customers, it can help identify unexpected markets, or help you improve your service to your existing customers.

Usage patterns of your visitors, not just how many visitors come to your site, but what they do while they’re there, what they used to visit your page (PC, mobile, tablet), what size screen they used. Where they were geographically in the world, Swansea or Hong Kong?!

Say you have two products on your site, one gets 1% views and the other 99%. At a minimum, this tells you one of two things. That there is a fault in the design of your website and it needs improving to make the first product more visible or, if we assume that both products are equally visible, perhaps you should reduce your stock orders of product A but increase your orders of product B tenfold! This is the kind of information that website analytics can provide - and it’s priceless.

The longer you monitor your site with analytics, the more complete the picture becomes.

You can monitor the site around the time of non-web based marketing promotions and analytics can also be embedded in marketing emails letting you know how successful any given mailshot was.

Once you have analytics running on your site and the information pouring in, you can begin to truly tailor your site for best impact. In my next two blogs, the first about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and the second about making your website work on mobile devices and tablets, I’ll explain how the information gathered from analytics can be applied to help you make the best choices.