Before you measure: Business goals

But without statistics on which to back these assumptions, you can only presume that your site is getting the traffic you want, and that visitors are getting the experience they want from your site.

Luckily, services such as Google Analytics are available for website owners who want to find out who is coming to their site, and what they do there. But far from being a one-size-fits-all solution, these services do require you to determine what visitors you hope to attract, and what actions you want them to pursue.

This post will help you think about what your goals are for your website, putting you on track to finding out if your website is meeting these goals.

The Google Analytics help site runs through various installation scenarios, whether you’re planning on monitoring a simple, one-page website, or a complicated network of dynamically created sites.

Aligning your website goals and your business goals

As we have written before, businesses have much to gain from having a website, but it is important to have at least one goal in mind. Some goals for your professional Web presence can be to add value to customers’ online and offline experience with your company, support advertising campaigns by providing a destination with more information and a call to action, enhance your relationship with current clients, and be more easily found online.

A business should put a lot of effort into creating a website that gives the public an accurate impression of it as a company. Chances are that your company knows what experience it wants to convey, but it’s not always easy to translate that vision to your website. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to draw from your company’s mission statement.

Ikea Canada’s homepage is both visually and functionally
aligned with the organization’s mission.

Swedish furniture store Ikea is an example of a company with a strong brand identity and well-defined customer experience. Ikea’s mission statement is as follows: “Ikea’s mission is to offer a wide range of home furnishing items of good design and function, excellent quality and durability, at prices so low that the majority of people can afford to buy them.”

Ikea has been able to translate this mission very well onto its website, which gives its users a graphic and modern experience, but does not alienate its middle-of-the-road customers who could easily be turned off by extravagance. Functionally, it allows visitors to shop online, but also encourages them to visit their brick-and-mortar stores by allowing them to assemble a “shopping list” for the next time they visit a store.

Think about your own brand and how you can translate your core mission to an online experience. This will help you define your ambitions in tangible ways.

Defining your website goals in measurable ways

Services such as Google Analytics provide ways to measure your site’s traffic and help better understand your visitors. Further, analytics can help you determine how visitors use your site, and provide clues to help you determine if your site is meeting its goals.

Google Analytics is able to track your website’s performance based on various criteria. Its data can give you an idea of how visitors use your site such as whether stay on your site (bounce rates and time on site), where visitors enter and leave (entry and exit pages), and if you’re attracting new visitors or the same core users (first time versus repeat visitors).

Based on your website goals, you have to determine the most important metrics for your company’s site.

Google Analytics can identify the physical location of visitors, showing you what regions are popular among site visitors. This can help you better target your website content to that area, and determine your strategy for locally focused online advertising and more traditional venues such as billboards and newspapers.

It can also provide information on what external websites and search terms brought visitors to your website. By knowing what sites led visitors to your site, you have a greater sense of the impact of affiliates, external online advertising, and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Knowing what search results lead visitors to your site’s landing pages can help you optimize those landing pages to fit what visitors want from those pages.

How to use statistics to gauge the success of your website

When it comes to gauging your website’s success, it’s really not just about attracting the most visitors, but rather to have visitors that are within your target market. Once you have these visitors, you want to give them the experience that they are seeking and, if possible, convince them to take a desired action.

When determining what statistics are important to your site, it’s important to decide on goals that align with your company’s goals, which are unique to every business and can only be known though understanding your business and its customers.

Google Analytics is a powerful tool, but it is no magic bullet. Using analytics can help you qualify changes to your website, and enable you to measure how those changes alter its performance and user engagement. But having a core understanding your customers and their needs will help you interpret the site reports to help you make more informed decisions on what areas of the website are performing to your expectations, and which are in need of improvement.

In further posts, we’re going to provide some tips on how to read your site’s statistics, and how to use Google Analytics to report on your key measurements. In the mean time, contact Kobayashi Online for more information on how to create, measure, and deliver on your website goals.

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