The internet is about information. Regardless of the type of marketing being done, it is necessary to constantly collect data on websites and campaigns. This gives marketers valuable feedback on how sites are doing and what efforts or ads are most effective. In turn, this data can be used to put greater resources into efforts that attract more visitors and improve conversion rates.
The following tools offer cheap and easy ways to gauge the effectiveness of campaigns and make it possible to work smarter.
Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics/features/index.html)
Google offers a number of free tools that work well both for measuring site traffic and split testing ads. These tools include Google Analytics, Google Analytics Content Experiments and Webmaster Tools. All of them include videos and other guides to help make using them easier.
For example, Google Analytics, makes it possible to effectively measure conversion rates, learn which pages are attracting the most visitors and how new visitors find your sites. In addition, Google Analytics can also be used to measure the impact of your social media and mobile marketing campaigns.
Google Analytics Content Experiments is designed for testing different page variations and seeing how they affect visitor interaction. For example, you can set a goal and then see how random sample sizes you choose of visitors react to the page variations you try. This is very useful in helping webmasters determine which designs work best for their target audience and uncovering what visitors are really looking for.
Google Analytics offers real-time reporting, customized reports and sharing tools. It also includes visualization tools, including Flow Visualization (can be used to analyze the path your visitors take when visiting your site) and In-Page Analytics (can be used to analyze how your visitors interact with your site).
Some people avoid using these tools since they are nervous about giving Google too much information about their sites, although doing so has not been proven to make a difference.
Clicky provides real-time web analytics. By using this application, site owners can segment and filter their data in any way they see fit, monitor the number of tweets, hash tags and links for a particular keyword and see how visitors interact with their sites. It can also provide detailed information about every single person who visited the site and up to full year’s worth of inbound traffic data, as well as real-time data.
Clicky offers both free and paid subscription plans, and new subscribers automatically get a free 21-day trial of the Pro account. With a free account, it is possible to track one website and up to 3,000 page views per day with all the basic features. There are then various paid plans to meet any need. A favorite feature of the paid accounts is the Twitter monitor, which breaks down and provides extensive data on tweets.
ClickTale analyzes site usability by providing concrete data on how web visitors move and interact within the pages of the site. It can track the movement of a visitor’s mouse, determine which parts of individual pages generate the most user interactions and understand the visitors’ purpose in visiting the site. In addition, all this can be done in real time. As such, it can help you enhance user experience as well as user engagement, optimize web pages and maximize conversion rates.
There are other special features to include campaign tracking to learn about the behavior of your email subscribers. The free plan offers access to heatmaps and recordings of visitor browsing on your site for 400 page views while the paid plans offer form analytic, conversion funnels, segmentation and other support and services for millions of page views.
If you want to track the performance of your links and ads, then you may want to check ClixTrac, a web-based application that can help you determine the number of impressions, the click-through rate and the sales conversion rate of your promotional adverts. It will, likewise, track the referral page from which the click originated and the IP address of the people who clicked on your links and/or ads. By using ClixTrac, online business owners can both track the ads they place on their sites and those on other sites. Needless to say, this is the best way to find out which ads are most effective and better target advertising. Some other features include affiliate link cloaking, URL redirection and email link tracking.
More general traffic tools
The following are different tracking programs less suited for ad tracking and testing but very useful for finding out who is visiting your websites and how they are doing overall.
Primary for measuring audiences and see what types of visitors are coming to your site, this free tool provides demographic information on website visitors to include geographic and other lifestyle facts. To use this service, you need to place a script on your site.
Open Site Explorer (http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/)
With the Open Site Explorer, site owners can find who is linking to their sites and their competitors’ sites. It can also help site owners identify the top pages in their sites, analyze the effectiveness of anchor texts used and determine the domain and page authority data. The service is now offered by MOZ, and the paid version offers extra features to include unlimited reports, recommendations on how sites can be improved and how pages are faring in the most popular social media sites.
This popular tool as been around since 2006. While the paid version has the most advanced features, the free version packs quite a few options (but is limited to 100 pages). Some useful statistics that is gathers include the most popular pages, inboard links and keywords that bring in visitors, geographic location of traffic, the number of pages visited as well as unique and returning visitors.
LinkTrackr is a web-based link tracking and link cloaking application that can be used in any website. It provides click analytics, tools for viral marketing and WordPress integration plugins as well. LinkTrackr offers four types of subscription plans (Basic, Pro, Hyper and Xtreme) that you can upgrade or downgrade any time you want so you can safely choose one that fits your needs.
Site Meter (http://www.sitemeter.com/)
The free version has a lot of features and the premium version is reasonably priced. Site Meter provides different visitor information to include location, referrals, entry pages and exit pages.
Alexa (http://www.alexa.com/)Alexa has been around for a while and provides much of the information furnished by other leading analytic tools to include page views, audience information, keywords visitors use to find your site and their movement in rankings.
What makes it unique from many tools is the comparisons it offers with other sites. You can compare your site against the industry or other competitors. However, the best tools and information require a paid subscription.
This free service is included by default in cPanel hosting, and many people do not realize they even have it. It provides useful data about site visitors to include location, their browsers and when they visit. Referring sites, pages visited and other information is also provided. Those using cPanel can find the data under Logs.
Jetpack Plugin for WordPress (http://jetpack.me/)
By installing the free Jetpack plugin in your WordPress blog, you access your site metrics by simply clicking on the Stats tab. Under the Stats section, you can see the total page views (for the day, the week or the month), the countries where your visitors originated, the sites that linked and referred traffic to your site, the posts and pages which received the most traffic for the day, the search terms your visitors used in finding your site, the links that were clicked and the number of times they were clicked during the day.
The Jetpack plugin also features a URL shortener, social networking enabled comment system and hovercard popups for your commenters, among other things.
There are a lot of tools that can be used in testing and optimizing marketing campaigns. Don’t be among those who do not take the time and effort to see what works and what doesn’t if you want to increase your chances of succeeding online.