Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Business of Craft: Intro to Web Analytics

This is the first of many posts to come about web analytics and digital marketing. I have worked in the web world since 2001. In addition to my experience running Queen City Craft and my own indie craft business I was a Web Project manager at Burton Snowboards for 5 years and I am going on my second year as the Web Analyst for them now. Web Analytics and digital marketing can be overwhelming. I am excited to mesh my experience in both the digital world and that of indie craft to help you better manage your businesses.

These days being an indie crafter you have more online tools than ever to help promote and sell your products. Long gone are the days of just having a blog or website. Social sharing, social selling and web analytics have become very important ways to help support your business but the question is are you using them? It can also be overwhelming trying to manage all of your different accounts. Your business is probably spread across several places online like Facebook, Twitter and Etsy, but how do you keep track of what source is working best for you?

First of all if you are not using web analytics to track your website or blog you need to go sign up for an account now! Google Analytics is FREE and it offers a powerful tool to help you understand trends in your traffic sources and content. It does so much more than that, but you don't have to be an expert or even understand half of what the tool can do in order to get meaningful insights out of it.

Let's start with the basics.

The Dashboard
The dashboard is the first screen you see when you log into your Google Analytics account. You can create this to show different reports but it starts you off with the basics. The graph you see at the top shows you traffic to your website over a time period that you can adjust. In this example I am showing stats on a blog  I created for my 20 year high school reunion coming up this summer (yikes). See the big spike in the graph? That is the day I posted a link to the website on our Facebook reunion page.

 I can keep track of activities like this by adding an annotation below the graph that helps me remember what I did to try to drive traffic and on what date. Annotations are available under graphs on all reports and allow you to keep track of any marketing promotions you launch or changes to your website. Keeping these important reminders in one place will help you relate site changes and marketing efforts to your reports.

The Site Usage section below the graph gives you a quick view of some of the basic web metrics Here is a quick breakdown of what some of the most basic ones are.

Visits - a visit is when someone arrives at your website and starts looking around. These are not absolute unique visitors. If I come to your website 5 times in one day the Visits metric will count all 5 unlike the unique visitors metric which would only count me once. A visit can have multiple pageviews or just one.

Pageviews - This metric tells you how many pages were viewed on your site. Don't expect this metric to match your visits. Typically pageviews will be higher than visits.

Bounce Rate - This can be a powerful metric that will tell you a lot about your site. It explains how many people land on your website but choose to not go anywhere else but the page they landed on. They leave without exploring meaning they bounce. This is a great way to measure the quality of the content you have on your site. You don't want your visitors to bounce upon arrival. You want them to dig deeper and visit more pages. A basic rule of thumb here is anything over 30% should be a red flag which should make you scratch your head and see what improvements you can make to your site.

The Content Overview section gives you a quick peek at the top pages being viewed on your site.  

All of the info on the dashboard is available to dig into deeper using the report links in the left hand navigation.

Now we get into my favorite part of Google Analytics - Traffic Sources. I dig into this every day and it is amazing the nuggets of information you can pull out from this one report. There are basically three main buckets your traffic goes into. Direct, Referral and Search.

Direct in a nutshell refers to people who type in the address of your website directly into their web browser or have it bookmarked. This used to be a pretty clean cut metric but with the uprising of third party apps such as Tweetdeck, Hootsuite along with untracked email campaigns, your Direct traffic bucket is going to be filled with spillover from a few of these areas. Don't worry too much about it for now though. In general Direct traffic is a good indicator of brand loyalty.

Referral traffic is someone who comes to your site via another online source. For example if do a blog post about your craft business on Queen City Craft and have a link to your site from my blog post, someone clicks on the link from my post which brings them to your site you would see www.queencitycraft.com show up in your referral traffic report. Checking this report is an excellent way to see what websites are driving the most traffic to your site. Is it Facebook, Twitter, Queen City Craft, or another source? You may be surprised at what you find. The results will help you figure out where you should be spending most of your online marketing time and which blogs you should try to hook up with to promote your products. It is also a great way to find out if someone promoted you that you weren't aware of. If all of a sudden you see 100 visits from Design Sponge for example you can check to see if they posted something about you and end up really happy!

Search represents both paid or organic search results and the report splits them out as such. Most indie crafters might not be diving into the world of paid search yet, but organic search is an area worth learning more about as it can tell you how well your website is showing up on search engine result pages. If you make recycled coasters for example and someone does a Google search for "Recycled coasters VT" does your website show up in the list of results? If not you need to work on your search engine optimization. This is a topic we can discuss further at a later time.

There is so much more to talk about and I'll continue in future posts.  Please hit me up with any questions you have.

1 comment:

  1. Kacey, thank you so much for this great info, most helpful. Susan