Do you really know how effective your website is? Do you know where you are losing potential customers and why?
While most businesses have a website, very few seem to know exactly what’s happening when people visit their site. Likewise, these days many businesses appreciate that social networking can be extremely beneficial but they find it difficult to coordinate and monitor.
I’m a big fan of measuring the response to nearly everything I do online. It helps me determine what worked and what didn’t and informs future marketing strategies. That’s the great thing about the web; nearly everything is measurable, as long as you have the tools to help you.
My team and I recently launched a new web start-up and every day we are sweating over the site stats and analytics to determine what’s working and what’s not. We are consistently tweaking and testing in order to achieve the best possible results, and every day we learn more about our site and visitors.
Interestingly, we have consistently used 5 free or very inexpensive tools to help us monitor everything we need online. They are all fairly easy to use and access.
So here is an introduction to the 5 monitoring tools you should use the most to maximize your web marketing results:
This is the most obvious tool, but one I am surprised to learn many business owners don’t use, or use regularly. It’s free and it provides a ton of great information about your traffic, sources of traffic, keywords, campaigns and content. This year Google have been rolling out more tools and functions for their Analytics, making it even easier to gain deep insight into the actions of visitors to your site and the success of various pages, offers and conversion strategies. Not a day goes by where I don’t look at my new site’s Google Analytics.
This is an easy-to-use heat-mapping site I really like. We are currently using it heavily to monitor clicks, scrolling and source of clicks on the new site. We have just learned that a key piece of information, a short video, has not been getting many views and that few people were scrolling to that part of the home page. As a result we have moved the video to the most prominent location on the page and retitled it to suit our search landing page message. We will now monitor the results for a few weeks to see if this has had a better effect. In short, heat-mapping is very, very informative, especially in unison with your Google Analytics. Crazy Egg is available from $8/month.
An alternate heat-mapping site is ClickTale. This is a more sophisticated tool that provides video monitoring of visitor mouse moves, form analytics, and conversion funnels as well as the standard information provided by CrazyEgg. ClickTale also offers real time monitoring. We use this tool for deeper analytics once we feel we have the basics right. ClickTale is available from $99/month.
Google Website Optimizer
Here’s another great free tool from Google that can make a huge difference to your website. Small variations on wording, colours and forms can make a massive difference to response rates on your website. If you’re at all interested in gaining more business online you need to be constantly testing variables. Website Optimizer allows you to run A/B and multivariable testing to identify effective copy, images and total page layouts. This is invaluable as it removes the assumptions and ego, leaving just pure data in support of the options tested. Advanced web marketers must be running tests like this.
We’re big social network users and a significant amount of our traffic is referred from Twitter. We’ve been using Hootsuite to publish simultaneously to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, and while there are several platforms that offer this service, we have found that Hootsuite has the best analytics package. Using these analytics we can see which links have had the most clicks, which country, and even what time of day is best time to publish. Social networks can be a great place to test the wording of headlines and offers too, so these stats become very important.
There are plenty of great web marketing and analytics tools available online, but these 5 are the ones we currently use the most. They either free or very affordable and tell us almost everything we need to know to improve our marketing and conversions. Using them effectively can lead to a significant improvement in your online marketing results.
Craig Wilson is founder of the NLYZR website opimisation system.