The day to day operations of running a small business comes naturally to most business owners and managers. But developing, maintaining and monitoring the businesses website can be a daunting task. Some questions that may arise include; How do I know if I am targeting the right audience? Why do I see so many hits and so little sales? How can I improve my site to boost profitability?
Google has come up with a solution to these questions with a free program called Google Analytics. First introduced in November, 2005, GA has made some major adjustments in the last few years and has proven beneficial to businesses that utilize online marketing, especially those that don't employ IT personnel.
All businesses, large or small, obviously want to see more profit. That is of course, the main goal. GA has many great features that can help increase profitability and Return on Investment (ROI) including, but not limited to, observing geographical data, monitoring visitor loyalty, and managing keywords. Some other features available include ways to reduce advertising spending by realizing top content, monitoring bounce rate, creating relevant website content and recognizing referring websites. Below are some examples of these features, along with how they can be utilized:
Some geographical markets are more profitable than others for certain businesses. Let's say you want to increase marketing to those areas less profitable, but may not be sure which locations those are. You can use GA's geographical reports to monitor site performance by city, state, or country, allowing you to arrange your advertising campaign accordingly. Also enticing, GA can alert you to what the preferred language is for your customers (as determined by computer settings).
Visitor loyalty is also something of great value when considering your profitability. On average, returning customers spend much more than new customers and it costs you less to get them to your site. GA can track your returning customers, along with the contributions they are making, and compare that with the contributions of new customers.
Keywords are critical to generating traffic to your website. In many cases, there may be a lot of companies competing with you on the same product. When choosing your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), it could place you in the back of the line-up if everyone else is using the same keywords. You may find that some search engines list you on top, while others list you on the second or third page. GA can tell you which search words are primarily used to locate your site and assist you with optimizing your search engine campaign, thus allowing you to be seen and contacted by a larger audience.
Website content is another crucial factor small businesses need to consider. You may feel you have a quality site because you are seeing an increase in hits, but then find out that the sales are still low or mediocre. Using GA, you can discover not only how many hits you've had, but more importantly, how long each potential customer remains on each page and how often they leave a certain page. It can also track how many potential customers visit your site, only to leave without going any farther than your home page. These features, top content, funnel vision and bounce rate, can help you understand where site content and navigation needs improvement leading to enhanced site performance.
Another benefit GA has for small business is the referring sites feature. Although most other analytic programs also offer this feature, GA is able to show you the sites that send you the traffic that actually produce goal conversion.
The features discussed above are only a handful offered by GA. Google Analytics is an incredible overall tool that allows both small and large businesses alike to obtain optimal performance and results out of their online marketing efforts. And because it is so routinely used, it makes comparisons easy and produces the most accurate data. But in regards to small business owners, the features discussed above can improve exposure of your product and vastly increase sales and ROI, which again, is the main goal of owning and operating a business. And with a price tag of $0, it's definitely worth looking into.
(This chart shows how many visitors came from other sites and how long they spent on your site.)
Google Analytics can be found here – www.google.com/analytics
Written by Alicia Conover
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