Use Your Website Analytics Reports to Build Relationships
Thursday, April 13, 2017
By Aaron Brossoit
New introductions and relationships are fundamental to the success of an economic developer. The economic developers I meet are always looking for more contacts to add to their network.
Conferences and tradeshows provide popular gathering events for people to come together and trade contract information. But there is another gathering place for economic developers and business owners: the internet.
Your website is attracting people every day. Have you reviewed the website traffic to see who’s visiting and how you can attract more visitors? If you’re not regularly reviewing your website traffic, you’re missing introductions.
According to a January 12, 2017 Pew Research fact sheet on broadband and internet usage “roughly nine-in-ten American adults use the internet.” Even more revealing in this report is that people are using their smartphones all the time.
With this increased reliance on the internet, economic developers can be assured that site selectors and business owners are searching communities online. More importantly, these business owners and site selectors are leaving fingerprints every time they search the internet and visit your site.
These fingerprints can be deciphered and investigated by reviewing your website traffic with an analytics tool, like Lead Forensics or Google Analytics.
When you first open your website analytics tool, the amount of data and available reports can be overwhelming. It’s like walking into a room full of people and trying to decide how to make introductions and who to meet first.
One approach is to scan the room — or in this case, the visitors — to learn who is here and why they’re visiting.
1. Who is visiting your website?
The first statistic to consider is the visitor count for the month to look for trends. Ideally, the overall trend should slope upwards to indicate increasing traffic. While examining the trend lines, look to see if any particular spikes in activity exist.
Next, compare the daily traffic to any marketing campaigns, blog posts or social media messaging. By matching the trend line to a marketing schedule, you can uncover initial correlations between traffic patterns and individual marketing efforts, ultimately providing feedback about the effectiveness of marketing activities.
After examining the overall traffic pattern, drill down to individual visitors. We use Lead Forensics to track our visitors so it’s easy to decipher information about the individual visitors to our sites.
Our report provides topline organizational information pertaining to the visitor. For example, you can tell if the visitor is coming from a company, educational institution, state agency or other public entity. You won’t be able to see personal private information, but you should know where the visitor was when they visited your site. This should reveal whether or not your website is attracting the right type of visitor.
Focus on the visitors who add value to your organization. If you want to attract more companies who may be interested in moving to your community, then your visitor list should be heavily weighted on company visitors.
If the list doesn’t yield the type of visitors needed to advance your community’s economic development goals, then the marketing message needs to be reviewed or new activities need to be introduced. If the list yields the right visitors, then do more of what is working.
This leads to the second metric to examine.
2. What sites are referring your visitors?
Knowing which sites bring visitors allows economic developers to focus marketing efforts on the referring sites yielding results. If the visitors are coming via a search engine, look for the keywords they are using. Then hone in on those keywords and amplify the use of those words.
Use popular keywords in social media posts, blog entries and press releases. The most important step here is to actually use the keywords. Too often the information presented in the website analytics is just viewed and not acted upon.
If the visitors are coming from specific websites, make sure to create a link back to the site and thank them on social media. Reciprocal links drive traffic and create momentum. Also, look at the referring site and try to decipher why people are visiting that site.
Using your website analytics to understand where your visitors are coming from will help improve your website’s effectiveness.
Now it is time to review the pages your visitors are landing on, visiting and exiting.
3. What pages are your visitors entering, reviewing and exiting?
The initial page visitors see on a website is considered the landing page. If the top-landing page is the homepage, then visitors may be arriving via search engine results.
If visitors are arriving on subpages, then look to see what specific content is attracting the visitors and increase marketing efforts of that content. Let the analytics report be the guide to objectively view the entry point for visitors.
Next, look at the time the visitors are spending on your website. Most visitors will spend less than 15 seconds on any page, according to Tony Haile from Time.com.
Look closely at the pages that are being viewed in excess of 8 to 10 seconds. This content is gaining traction. These are the pages that need to be promoted to drive more traffic.
Hopefully, visitors are moving from the initial landing page to additional pages. It is important to understand the paths the visitors are using to view your website’s content. One positive pattern is when a visitor comes to your site, views a couple pages and then exits the site from your contact page. This suggests the visitor may be considering reaching out to your organization.
One pattern to avoid is where visitors come to the homepage and leave the homepage with only a short visit. This pattern suggests the visitors did not find enough compelling information to investigate further. This pattern suggests the landing page needs to draw visitors in more to engage them. Such a quick “bounce” visit will most likely result in a visitor who may not return.
4. Are the visitors returning?
By now the analytics reports have revealed visitor information. We know their identities. We know where they’re coming from and what content they’re viewing. But are they coming back? Drill down on the most active visitor report from the analytics report to see how many times the most engaged visitors returned.
A returning visitor is the most engaged and highly sought after visitor. This person came to the website, viewed content and returned after contemplating the information. This is the person you need to connect with to build a relationship.
This leads to the final step. Use the website analytics reports to find ways to connect to your visitors.
For example, after viewing the report of active visitors, look on LinkedIn for people that fit your visitors’ descriptions. LinkedIn is a powerful networking platform that allows people to find each other. I have found many contacts on LinkedIn by following leads from the analytics report. And, each time I reach out to a contact found on the analytics report, that contact is engaged and appreciative. It is a great way to start a relationship.