Category Archives: Analytics

How to Make the Most of Google’s Free Website Tools

woman on computer

Regular site maintenance and monitoring does not have to come at a huge expense. We’re big advocates of regular audits and an iterative approach to design – but to keep track of your site’s day-to-day performance, you are going to need a different set of tools.

Fortunately, there’s a lot of free website tools that can help you, especially from one of the industry leaders, Google. In this post, we’re sharing a list of Google’s available tools you should at least be aware of and how you can make the most of them to improve your site.

 

Google Analytics

analytics

You’re probably already familiar with Google Analytics. It’s the reigning king of Google’s free site tools, and for good reason: it’s full of features, it can help you easily measure and track your site goals, it will give you a lot of information about your site visitors, and it’s 100% free.

Because it’s packed full of features, it can take some experimentation to figure out how to make the most of Google Analytics for your site, but here are some of the areas where Analytics can offer insight:

  • Your conversions, including how many people go through your product purchasing process, as well as how many people abandon it at particular stages
  • Your visitors’ social engagement with site content and social plug-ins
  • Your key traffic sources, including search engines and (some) keywords
  • Your best performing content
  • Your visitors’ demographics and the technology they use to view your site, and their pages per visit
  • Real-time data of how many users are on your site and what pages they’re viewing

Analytics also allows for a lot of customization: you can set up custom alerts to receive reports at specific times, hand-pick the metrics in those reports, and track the progress of particular campaigns.

If you don’t have Google Analytics already, it’s a simple process to sign up and implement on your site. Visit analytics.google.com to get started.

 

Data Studio

google data studioIf there’s a problem with Google Analytics, it’s that the sheer amount of data it offers can be overwhelming. But Google also has an answer for that.

The new Data Studio – which is still in the beta stage – allows users to turn all that data into beautiful, easy to digest reports. You can easily share the reports with your colleagues and clients – or just use them for yourself to make your life a whole lot easier.

You can try Data Studio here for free.

 

Google Webmaster Tools

webmaster tools

Like Analytics, Webmaster Tools is all about the data. In this case, the data focuses less on your users, and more on the overall health and performance of your site.

Webmaster Tools will help you with:

  • Finding malware infections
  • Making HTML improvements that will boost your site’s performance and user experience (based on any issues with your title and description tags)
  • Understanding search queries and the top traffic-driving keywords for your site
  • Finding the site errors that Google has detected when crawling your site
  • A breakdown of crawl stats (i.e. how fast crawlers read your site pages)
  • Viewing your site as Google sees it, or identifying any potential Google penalties against your site

There’s much more to Webmaster Tools than we can cover here, so we recommend this great blog post for more tips, and you can get started with your own Webmaster Tools at google.com/webmasters

 

Google Consumer Surveys

google consumer surveys for website owners

Getting to know your audience is one of the best things you can do for your site’s performance and usability. If it’s not the time for a full-blown UX evaluation, Google’s Consumer Surveys can be a good stand-in.

Consumer surveys allow you to measure your site visitors’ satisfaction by asking four default questions that will offer you a good idea of how your users feel about your site and their experience with it.

The major drawback is that the free option doesn’t allow you to customise the survey – but as a short term option, consumer surveys give you some valuable basic information about your users.

Click here to get started with Consumer Surveys for Website owners.

 

 

Page Speed Insights

pagespeed

By now, it’s well known that site speed impacts your search ranking, so it’s a good idea to keep regular tabs on your speed performance. Google’s PageSpeed Insights will give your site a speed rating on a scale of 1 to 100. It measures both above-the-fold and full page load times to give you a robust picture of your site’s speed issues.

If your score is low, PageSpeed also offers suggestions for improvement, such as prioritising visual content or optimising caching.

Click here to measure your page speed.

 

Mobile-Friendly Test Tool

mobile friendly test

If you want Google’s opinion on whether your site is mobile-friendly (especially in light of its mobile-friendly algorithm update), you can use this quick test to get a simple yes or no answer. It’s super simple: you type in your website’s URL, and the tool gives your site a pass or fail measured against various design factors.

The tool also you show you how your page looks on a mobile screen, which can help you identify any mobile red flags. We know that Google’s algorithm gives a big boost to mobile-friendly sites, so getting a quick evaluation straight from the source is valuable.

It’s also worth mentioning that Google Webmaster Tools and PageSpeed Insights both include a Mobile Usability report that flags any mobile issues with your site. You can also customise your Google Analytics dashboard to include some key mobile metrics (you can find out more about that at this post from Creative Bloq).

 

 

Wrap Up

There you have it – a round-up of our favourite free Google tools and how you can get the most out of them to improve your site’s performance.

If you want to build the habits you need to make sure your site is always performing, using some these tools regularly will almost certainly be part of you routine.

The Best Tools for Keeping Your Site in Shape

website tablet

A few weeks ago, we touched on iterative design and the importance of treating your website as an ongoing, constantly improving project. In that spirit, we’ve gathered some of our favourite apps and tools for keeping your website in killer shape. The list includes tools for monitoring (and improving!) everything from speed, to usability, to accessibility, to help you painlessly maintain your site’s fitness. Let’s dive in.

 

Best Tools for Monitoring Speed

Google PageSpeed Insights

google page speed insights

Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a great tool for gauging the speed performance of your site. PageSpeed rates your site’s speed on a scale from 1 to 100 by measuring above-the-fold and full page load times. If your score isn’t quite up to snuff, PageSpeed offers recommendations for improving site speed, as well as a number of modules that can make tweaks to your site (for example optimizing caching or prioritizing visual content) to boost its speed.

 

Pingdom

pingdom

Pingdom is one of the most popular speed testing tools around, and for good reason. Pingdom provides detailed speed reports that include a page analysis, a site history, a grade for site speed performance, and a waterfall breakdown of your site.

The basic speed test is free and fast, and it allows you to test your site’s speed from any location in the world.

Pingdom also has a great feature that alerts you when your website is down, and it can monitor site performance almost constantly – but you’ll have to pay a modest fee to access these features.

 

GTmetrix

gtmetrix

If a detailed speed report is what you’re after, GTmetrix is a good option. GTmetrix grades site speeds by combining PageSpeed and YSlow scores from different browsers and connection types. The GTmetrix speed report includes a waterfall breakdown, video, report history, and page load details (e.g. time, size, and number of requests). Based on the report, GTmetrix also provides detailed, actionable recommendations for speeding things up.

 

Best Tools for Usability Testing

dilbert usability

A reminder from Dilbert on the importance of usability testing

IntuitionHQ

Available as a mobile app and as a web-based tool, Intuition HQ bills itself as a website usability testing tool for designers. You can use it to see how users are interacting with your site, how long it takes users to complete tasks, and it lets you view user feedback easily.

 

Five Second Tests

As the name implies, Five Second Tests let you quickly and easily test your site’s home page designs, logos, and landing pages (among other things) by measuring users’ first impressions. You can use Five Second Tests to measure the usability of your site in various ways, including how intuitive or learnable tasks on the site are.

 

Loop11

Loop11 is an online user testing tool that’s easy for beginners with no coding knowledge to use. With this in mind, Loop11 makes it incredibly quick to set up usability tests yourself (from anywhere in the world), and its test reports and task analyses are useful and easy to interpret.

Best Tools for Accessibility

web accessibility

Juicy Studio’s Local Tools

Juicy Studio offers a range of accessibility testing tools, including a readability test, which measures how readable your site is,  a luminosity colour contrast analyser, which tests whether there is sufficient contrast between your site’s background and foreground, and an image analyser, which tests your site to ensure that images are specified correctly. Juicy studio also has a useful Accessibility Toolbar, but it’s only available as an extension for Firefox.

 

Vischeck

Vischeck is a tool that simulates colorblindness and allows you to view your website as a colorblind user would. You can use Vischeck to make sure that your site is accessible and usable for colorblind users, and to identify any tweaks that need to be made to the content or design of your site to make it more user-friendly.

 

WebAnywhere

WebAnywhere lets you see how your site looks to users who require assistive software. Technically designed as a web-based screen reader to assist blind people in accessing the internet, WebAnywhere is a useful accessibility testing tool as well. Using it to view your own website will give you a better idea of how your site renders for visually impaired users, and can help you identify any changes you should be making to optimize accessibility.

 

Best Tools for Keeping Tabs on Your Stats

SumAll

sumall

SumAll is a cross-platform tool that lets you monitor statistics from your website, social media accounts, and even e-commerce sales, all at-a-glance in one intuitive dashboard. It also comes complete with mobile apps, giving you the ability to keep an eye on all of your KPIs when you’re out of the office.

The service also provides regular email updates, so if you’re too busy to log in every day you can stay up to speed with a daily digest of your site’s performance compared against recent benchmarks.

 

Google Analytics App

google anlaytics mobile app

Everyone knows Google Analytics as the desktop platform you use to monitor your site’s traffic and statistics, but Google recently released iOS and Android companion mobile apps so that mobile users can have easy access to the same data. Needless to say, the Analytics mobile app is a must-haves for any regular GA user.

 

Best Tools for Site Maintenance

FTP Manager

ftp manager

FTP Manager is a business app that lets you perform website and file maintenance from your phone, wherever you are. The app lets you securely log into your site server from your phone to fix your broken site, upload images, and fit text using a text editor. FTP is ideal if you’re on the move a lot and need to be able to perform site maintenance at the drop of a hat.

 

Wrap Up

Keeping your website at the top of its game can be a tricky task, especially if you’re not looking to conduct in-depth user testing or a big site overhaul. That’s where these tools come in. They’re fast, easy to use, and can help you maintain and improve your site’s speed, accessibility, usability, and make maintenance a breeze, even if you’re not in the office. Most of all, they can help you keep your site in good shape – just in time for summer.

Mary Meeker: 2016 Internet Trends

Every year, Mary Meeker, an analyst at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, releases a comprehensive report on global internet trends. This year’s report was just released last week, as Meeker presented at the annual Code Conference.

In addition to the usual stats on mobile usage, Mary Meeker on her 2016 Internet Trends report covers emerging trends in areas such as voice recognition, artificial intelligence, and the convergence of software and automobiles.

If you’re interested in where digital trends are heading in the coming years, it’s definitely worth checking out below:

The Big Data Bottleneck

big data visualization

Being able to harness big data has enabled some incredible advancements in business. Just consider some of the following use cases.

We can now target and schedule communications to hit when they’re going to be most effective. With attribution modeling, we can pinpoint what part of a campaign is performing best (or worst), and optimize mid-flight. Analytics apps can tell us when people visit our site, how many times they visit, their behaviour, and where else they go. We can map social networks and pinpoint influencers. Big data might even (eventually) be the key to upending John Wanamaker’s age old truth about advertising: “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”

Here’s the kicker, though – big data isn’t half of what it could be.

 

The dream of big data

Big data is the ultimate dream of marketers and business analysts: lots of customer data, from lots of different sources, arriving instantaneously and being quickly translated into insights.

And when we’re talking about data, it could be anything from a customer email from a newsletter subscription to tracking purchases through a loyalty program. It includes any scrap of information that a business can collect about its customers in each channel and at every touchpoint.

Then, businesses turn those insights into money. First, the obvious ones: marketing and advertising. If you know what your customer wants based on what they’ve purchased in the past, it’s much easier to sell that to them. Compare for a minute a generic email and one using personalization techniques. The generic one might say:

Look at our amazing sale!

This example would probably not be very effective, because consumers are bombarded with these sorts of generic messages all the time.

That same email with personalization might read:

Look at our amazing sale on seeds and nuts!

If seeds and nuts were a recently purchased product, this would be more effective. It could be Spanish wine, or baking essentials, or berries. It doesn’t matter. What’s important is the consumer feels like they’re being talked to directly, with a proposition that solves their unique problem. Personalization makes for much more effective communications.

Of course, big data has benefits outside of marketing and advertising. Businesses can use data to identify issues or market trends, and respond to them quickly. For instance, a company that sees decreased usage among its customer base in a specific region could inform R&D, launch new products, time their price fluctuations, regionalize their offering, and generally maximize their efficiency while lowering their churn rate.

So that’s the dream of big data. But often, it’s not the reality.

 

The reality of big data

business

The reality is that we haven’t really achieved the potential of big data. Sure, companies have become smarter about using the data they have to make data-driven decisions rather than subjective ones. And yes, companies have incorporated dashboards and nice software to allow them to see what their data is doing, so they can make decisions based on it.

But the dream of totally integrated data sources, with instant access and quick analysis? Not quite as widespread as it should be.

And here’s where we get to the bottleneck. Our collective ability to gather data has increased a hundredfold over the past 10 years or so. Consumers’ information is so readily collected that we don’t even think about it anymore. Loyalty programs, search engines, websites, marketing opt-ins, online stores, in-store sensors, apps, and the huge variety of smart tech we have, all means that there are oodles of data available for businesses to collect and buy.

However, for the most part, businesses are still not able to fully realize that data potential due to three key problems.

  1. Lack of expertise
  2. Lack of technical ability
  3. Lack of legal clarity

 

Lack of expertise

First, lack of expertise. SAS highlights this problem in a one-pager about big data. Specifically, they say that to get the most out of your data visualizations, you need to make sure the person looking at it has the expertise to understand what they’re looking at.

And there are just not that many of those people around. What’s more, even if you do have a fully trained staff of top notch data analysts, they often won’t be asking the right questions of the data to derive quality insights. If you visualize processing big data as a funnel, the processors are eventually going to need subject experts to help them translate raw insights (e.g. X correlates to Y) into actionable recommendations. Plus, that’s assuming that you get to the more semantic stage of translating big data insights into recommendations! The steps involved in extracting big data from a swirling pool of data feeds is extremely intricate and involved.

All in all, there aren’t enough skilled resources available for big companies to fully flex their big data muscles.

 

Lack of technical ability

This goes back to the complexities of withdrawing data from a collective pool. But first, we need a clear idea of the journey big data takes.

Data is generated at some touchpoint – for example, a smartphone. Then, that data is fed into the cloud. Then, that data needs to be extracted from cloud servers, then translated into something workable, then analyzed, then passed to subject experts in a more refined state again.  And then we get insights.

Resourcing problems aside, this is still very hard to do. Getting clean data out of servers, while it can be done with Hadoop, is still difficult. Big data is, by its nature, unstructured and pooled, which make it harder to pull it together. What’s more, with so much data gathered, it’s increasingly impossible to use even a fraction of what you have, so really you’re not using big data at all, but rather a much smaller data set. It’s like eating at an enormous buffet – you can’t possibly try everything, so you’re forced to pick and choose.

 

Lack of legal clarity

Companies today have access to far, far more information than they can use. Put simply, privacy laws across the globe are hopelessly out of date for the world of big data – there are fundamental legal and philosophical questions here that still need to be answered:

  • What counts as private data?
  • Who can use it?
  • How can it be used?

Our current legal structure is just not equipped to answer these questions, and as a result, big data falls far short of its objectives.

 

Conclusion

The dream of big data will live on; a world where Google can predict the flu, where companies know what consumers want as the consumer wants it, where each and every decision, at every level of the organization, is driven by data – not by instinct.

However, that day is still be a little down the road. We have some significant challenges to overcome first, such as:

  • Challenges around resourcing and the ability to ask the right questions
  • Technical challenges of pulling out sensible data from an overwhelming collective pool
  • Legal challenges around what we can actually do with big data

We expect that, eventually, these problems will be solved. The dream for supersized data lives on, but in the meantime, we might have to settle on something smaller.

Is my Website Working ? Tips and Tricks for Design Evaluation

design evaluation

Web design is always changing, and keeping up with the latest tech and hottest trends can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together this list of tips to evaluate your design, compare it to the latest and greatest, and keep on top of the ever-evolving world of Web 2.0.

 

Top tips to keeping you (and your site) up to date

Set up an RSS feed

This is one of the single best things you can do to stay on top of new web trends and web technology. Just download an RSS reader app (we recommend Feedly), load your favourite web design publications and subscribe to industry leaders and Google alerts, stay in the know for important updates.

 

Set goals (and check in on them often!)

analytics

Because websites are such front-loaded projects, there’s a temptation to finish them and say ‘phew! Thank goodness that’s over.’ But in reality, this is the worst thing you can do for your site. It will sit there gathering dust, becoming obsolete.

Instead, we suggest establishing a weekly, monthly, and quarterly reporting cycle, get a sense of how your site is doing over time. Compare all of your critical website stats from platforms like Google Analytics or Omniture to pre-set goals and KPIs, along with other industry benchmarks where possible, and continue to monitor, monitor, monitor.

 

Stay on top of the competition

There is probably a similar business in who you respect.  Make sure you keep close tabs on what they’re doing, not just on their site but all over the web – apps, pay per click, display, social media – wherever they are, see what they’re up to, and do what you can to follow in their footsteps.

⇨ Not sure where to start? Check out our post on Free Tools to Evaluate Your Competitors’ Website

 

Test and iterate all the time

usability testing

Photo via flickr

No website is ever ‘done’. You should aim to have at least one A/B test running at all times, so you can constantly be improving and uncovering new ways that your site works.

 

Test your site speed regularly

website page load

Updates to Google, to your server, to what you’re displaying online – these can all have an impact on load time. Especially for an ecommerce site, you need to constantly test your speed to ensure it doesn’t get worse (and maybe even make it better).

⇨ Dive deeper into this topic with our posts on design tips and tech tips for a faster website.

 

Find and fix broken links

Broken links are like having messy hair for a job interview – it’s just not a good look, and could cost you an opportunity due to an unprofessional appearance. There are hundreds of programs, plugins, and auto-checkers to find broken links on your site. Make a point of doing a weekly check-in to find and fix them.

⇨ Try our recommended tool for checking broken links

 

Evaluating your existing design

Not feeling fresh? Here are a few tips on how you can evaluate your design to tell when it’s time for a refresh.

Content review

Is your content (static and dynamic) up to date? Is it still on point:

  • Drive traffic?
  • Inform users?
  • Provide SEO value?

A quarterly review of your content sounds like a big job, but its the only way to be aware of content problems before they get really bad.

⇨ Keep reading about the importance of content reviews in our recent post on Content Strategy

 

Is your site on-trend?

Is your website still on trend? That is, does it still look modern and sleek, in-line with existing trends? Some specifics to match might be:

 

What’s the mobile experience like?

mobile app

Checking in on the mobile experience periodically is a definate. (And if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, give us a call)

⇨ If you’re looking for a refresher, check out our post on Mobile Strategy 101

 

What’s your Google ranking?

SEO search trends

Google is constantly refining its rankings and algorithms to provide users with the best results. So while it’s not a direct measure, it’s a good way to get an indication of how you’re doing in the wider world. Keep an eye on your rankings, and take special note of any spikes or dips in your traffic and SERP position.

⇨ Read more in our post on SEO Trends You Need to Know to Keep Google Happy

 

Summary

Letting your site grow stagnant and gather dust is far too easy to do. A website should be a dynamic reflection of your business, and as such it requires consistent monitoring and measurement to ensure you’re getting the results from it that you want.

Big Data in Web Design: 5 Dashboards for Design Inspiration

How you present data is an essential part of how useful that data is going to be. And with more data than ever to deal with, dashboards are now an essential part of web design.

We’ve brought 5 examples of superb dashboards to inspire the data geek in you.

1. Supr.admin

supradmin

Click to enlarge

This dashboard theme is clean and simple, and most importantly it puts the information that you need right now front and centre. In the example above, they’ve highlighted a web analytics platform. It’s easy to see total visits, unique visitors, and other key metrics over a 30 day period. An effortless snapshot.

Why we loved it

  • Great snapshot of what’s going on
  • Fully searchable
  • Endlessly customizable

 

2. Fitbit

fitbit dashboard

 

Fitbit separates themselves from other fitness wearables by displaying their users’ stats in the best way possible. Of particular mention is their use of circles to indicate progress. It gives users a quick, effortless overview of where in terms of achieving their goals.

What we liked:

  • Simple, circle design make it easy to visualize progress
  • Card-style format is flat and clean
  • Recent activity is prioritized in the dashboard, so you see results of stuff you just did quickly

 

3. Webapp Pro dashboard

webapp pro

Click to enlarge

A dashboard designed for a gaming app, Webapp Pro embodies beautiful data display. Easy to read and great to look at, it does wonders to make data fun.

Like Fitbit, they use circles to indicate progress. This is both elegant and fast to process. However, it’s not clear if users can set goals.

For example, can you set a goal for active players, and as you approach that goal the circle fills in? If so, Webapp is even better. It provides app developers with a concise summary of the health of their app. This is often difficult to tease out from a list of downloads or even from a spreadsheet of profits.

What we liked

  • It’s really pretty
  • It focuses on key stats, providing a snapshot of app health

 

4. Eventbrite

Eventbrite Dashboard

Click to enlarge

Granted, it’s not as pretty as Webapp Pro. But don’t forget the core function of any dashboard – to convey information quickly and easily.

While we’ll be the first to admit that the Eventbrite dashboard isn’t the best looking, it’s absolutely one of the most functional. In about three seconds, event admins can check their ticket sales, their ticket sales over time, how they’re collecting payments, how much they’ve collected, how many tickets they have left to sell, and other essential event details. It’s simple and effective, and we for one love it.

What we liked

  • It’s a great snapshot of an event
  • It’s not overloaded with details

5. Mixpanel Survey Analytics

survey analytics

Click to enlarge

Surveys present a unique challenge for dashboards. They’re jam packed with useful information, but those nuggets are often hidden within comments. Mixpanel does a nice job of combining both the analytical results of a survey as well as the anecdotal results. And by making those comments keyword searchable, Mixpanel lets users delve into them quickly and effectively, pulling up the information that they want.

What we liked

  • Keyword search provides tremendous flexibility
  • Total participants is fast and easy to see, so you know if your results are robust

 

Conclusion

These are five dashboards that really stood out to us for their simplicity, their functionality, and the beautiful design. But what do you think makes a good dashboard? Let us know in the comments!

5 Website Metrics You Didn’t Know You Were Supposed To Be Watching

analytics

Everyone knows that you’re supposed to be tracking your website traffic – where it goes, what it does, and ultimately, how your digital channels are driving sales. Metrics like total visitors, CTR, and bounce rate are all a pretty standard, but they don’t tell the whole story.

Here are 5 metrics that you can use to help you know how people are finding you online, what they’re doing on your website, and what content they’re responding to. Together, these metrics will ultimately help inform your digital strategy.

Note: you can access all of this information through Google Analytics or Google Webmaster tools.

 

1. Search queries

Search queries are essentially what words people are typing into Google to land on your site. For example, if you were to type in ‘Advantage CMS’ into Google and click the first link you’d end up on our Advantage CMS info page.

Your search query was ‘Advantage CMS’.

This data is useful for a couple of reasons. First, it lets you know how effective your SEO strategy is. If you’re getting lots of visitors from a few keywords, you can assume that your site is showing up pretty high in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for those words (since most people don’t scroll that far into search results). So it can help you confirm what’s going well already, and tweak what isn’t.

For example, if you were working hard to optimize your content for a few particular keywords (say, ‘.NET alternatives’) but those words were barely generating traffic, then you should probably reassess your strategy.

The second reason this is useful to know is that it can help you uncover opportunities for new PPC campaigns, new content, and better SEO. If you’re getting lots of traffic from particular words in addition to what you’re already paying for (since PPC is tracked separately) then you might say ‘gee, we’re getting awfully good traffic from those words already. Might be worth differentiating our PPC campaign.’

Alternatively, you can use your search queries to help drive content ideas. If a lot of your website traffic is for words like ‘design tools’ or ‘free design’ then writing more articles about free design tools would probably resonate with your audience.

 

2. Exit page

exit

We know, this might seem obvious. But where people are leaving your site is a fantastic red flag for what’s working well and what isn’t.

It is worth noting that not every page is going to have the same optimal exit rate. For example, if you’re an ecommerce site, your receipt page will probably have a high exit rate, since people finish their purchase and then go and do something else. And that’s fine.

However, if a page in the middle of your purchase flow has a high exit rate, then that’s a problem since it reflects the exact scene of cart abandonment.

Exit pages help you know which points in your user flow are causing people to get frustrated and quit, and can help you really target your energy where it’s needed most.

 

3. Popular Pages

Finding out what pages are popular is so simple yet so often passed over for bigger-picture and conversion metrics. However, just knowing what pages people are landing on, as well as what pages people find interesting enough to link to and to spend time on is a huge asset to your content creation strategy.

Your content creation should be informed by what’s worked previously and what’s been popular in the past. Odds are, your core demographic hasn’t changed dramatically (if you’re offering the same stuff) which means that content that’s roughly similar is going to probably get roughly similar results.

Particularly for blogs, which rely on lots and lots of pages being produced, knowing what your top 10 posts are when you’re generating new topics is going to be enormously helpful for narrowing you focus.

 

4. Repeat Visitor Ratio (RVR)

The Repeat Visitor Ratio (RVR) is simply the percentage of people who came back to your site after their initial visit in a set time period. It’s calculated like this:

Repeat visitors in a as set time period/total visitors in the same time period = RVR percentage

That’s it. It’s super simple to work out, and it’s also super useful.

First, you RVR represents what percentage of people came to your site and thought what they saw was good enough to come back for. It’s a good indicator of general website health. The more people who come back, the more people who think either:

  • Your product is so amazing they couldn’t possibly get it anywhere else
  • Your content is so fantastic they just had to consume more of it

Both of these are good.

Second, sales usually take somewhere between 7 and 10 points of contact to close. The better your RVR, odds are the better your sales.

Third, the cost of new customer acquisition is enormous. However, the cost of customer retention is far lower. RVR is the very start of that relationship. For example, enticing someone to visit your site with a PPC campaign is pricey, especially compared to the cost of them returning just because they want to. That’s much less expensive for you.

 

5. Average Session Length (ASL)

stopwatch

Like exit pages, there is no perfect ASL, only what’s appropriate for your site and even your specific processes.

For example, let’s say you’re trying to find the hours of business of your favourite store. So you go onto their website to look up their hours. The company (and you) want you to be able to find that information quickly and effectively. If you can find this information quickly, this is a fantastic result for you and the company, even though your individual session length is very low.

So how long you want someone on your site really depends on what they’re trying to do. Say someone was on your site just to browse, you’d want your ASL as high as possible. Or if you’re a blog, then it’s best to have your ASL higher, since it probably means people are reading your content in a more engaged way.

 

So what’s the best use of ASL?

Easy. ASL excels at helping you track your changes to processes over time. This is particularly true for ecommerce sites. Say, for example, you want to improve your checkout process. ASL would help you track how long people are taking to go through that process, and see if your changes improved their time.

Likewise, ASL can help you determine which content is really engaging people and which content isn’t. So if all five of your how-to blog posts have really high ASLs, then you can assume that your how-tos are being read and understood, and presumably helping your users overcome their own problems.

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Wrap up

Digital marketing’s biggest advantage is its track-ability. You can know what’s working, and do more of it, and what’s not working, and stop it. But often, real insights get lost in the noise of the hundreds of different ways you can shape the data, and it becomes impossible to know if you’re doing great or… not so great.

Use these 5 metrics to help you focus your digital data exactly where it needs to be, and make decisions that improve your website performance.

The answer’s in the numbers. You just need to know where to look.

8 Benefits of Managing Social Publishing Through Your CMS

social publishing

For some people, managing content is a full-time job. And that’s just the pages on your website. When you add the need to create a vibrant social media presence via regular updates, it adds to the workload. Wouldn’t it be easier to manage your social media publishing calendar via your content management system (CMS)? We think it would, and here are some of the benefits you could enjoy.

 

1. Synergy

You’re already running your website content via a CMS, so why would you want to go elsewhere to manage social publishing? An integrated social publishing facility could save a lot of time by letting you create social messages and schedules at the same time as you’re creating and publishing original content.

 

2. Improved workflow

Your content workflow probably already includes multiple people. Using a CMS to manage social messaging puts this aspect on the same footing as other content. It means you can assign people and roles to handle social messaging, follow up and get reports the publication status.

 

3. Better SEO

Using your CMS to manage social publishing can help you make sure that titles, descriptions and tags are in sync, and avoid duplicating messages. The ability to make the link between tags on blog content and relevant social media hashtags is pretty useful too.

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4. Message previews

Just as you can preview web content, your CMS will allow you to preview social messages. You can then easily check that they look right and that the images, titles and descriptions are sending the message that you want to send. You can ensure that social content appears to advantage using Twitter cards and Facebook Open Graph tags. You can also optimize structured data for Google+ and search engine listings.

 

5. Ease of use

Using a content management system makes it easy for those with little technical expertise to create social media messages. The word processor like interface means they don’t have to think about the more technical aspects of the different social media sites before creating a message.

 

6. Managing social campaigns

If you set up a Twitter account for a specific promotion or want to drive people towards a particular Pinterest board managing this through your CMS makes it easy to keep track of what’s happening while not losing site of your main social content.

 

7. Flesh out the social content calendar

Your CMS will give you an at a glance view of your content calendar so you can easily identify any gaps. That lets you create and send standalone social messages to highlight your best content in between content publishing cycles.

 

8. Improved analytics

It’s always important to know how your content is doing. Using a CMS for social publishing means you can get richer data on the social content you produce. That doesn’t necessarily replace other analytics tools, but it makes a good complement.

 

As you can see, integrating social publishing into your CMS doesn’t just make sense; it has many positive benefits. Ask about how our Advantage CMS can help you manage social publishing.

3 Types of Analytics to Better Understand Web Users

Analytics is a great tool for improving the relationship between content and design, but that’s not all it’s good for. Analytics data can also help you focus on the people who matter most – the target customers who access your site – and understand how they interact with your website and content. That understanding can be a big help in tweaking both your design and your content strategy. You can get an even better picture if you use more than one type of analytics tool.

 

1. Standard Analytics Tools

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a good starting point and it provides incredibly rich data that goes way beyond visitor numbers. If you want to keep tabs on interaction, some of the key metrics to track include the main landing pages and exit pages and the top content, but don’t stop there. It’s worth drilling down to deepen your understanding of web users.

One of our favorite reports is the visitors flow report, which graphically illustrates people’s path through your site from the time they land on a page until the time they leave. It’s color coded, too and weighted so you can easily tell where the bulk of your visitors spend their time. It’s a great way to find out if your internal linking is working well or whether too many external links are making people leave the site too quickly.

It’s also worth looking at metrics like the average time on page to see whether your content is sticky enough to keep people reading. And the mobile and social reports give additional insights into those interactions too.

If you like the data in Google Analytics, then also consider one of these alternatives.

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2. Heatmap Analytics Tools

heatmapping

Want to do a different kind of online detective work? Then a heatmap analytics tool could be the answer. A heatmap tells you where web users spend most time on your site (the hot areas) and which areas they avoid altogether (the cool ones). One example of a heat map analytics program is Crazy Egg who also offer scroll mapping to show which areas of your site are most viewed in a browser window. One of the most interesting features Crazy Egg provides is the “confetti” report which tracks actual mouse clicks. And there’s link tracking, too. Heatmap analytics takes the guesswork out of analyzing user actions on your site so that you can identify what’s working and what’s not about your content and design. 20Spokes has a useful list of heatmaps analytics tools for you to try.

 

3. Social Media Analytics

Buffer analytics

You can’t do business without considering social media. That’s why it’s important to analyze what happens with your content when it leaves the site. As well as headline figures on how many times your content has been shared, it’s important to assess interaction,engagement, conversation, reach (further reshares) and more. To do this effectively, you need social media analytics. There are dozens of programs that will help you understand the social side of your business. In addition to the social reports in Google Analytics itself, you can use the analytics available in social sharing tools like Buffer and Hootsuite, a tool like SumAll or one of the apps on Venture Beat’s list of social analytics apps.

Use any of these analytics tools – or, even better, all of them together – and you will know what parts of your site design and content attract users and drive content. That’s the information you need to adapt your strategy to continually meet users’ needs.

How to use analytics to improve the relationship between content and design

MacBook Analytics

The design of your site is a major asset in attracting new customers and retaining current ones. That’s also true of your web content. So wouldn’t it make sense for design and content to work together?

One tool that can help with that is web analytics. With the data in an analytics report you can improve both content and design so that both help you reach your business goals.

Many people think of analytics as relating only to how many people visited a particular site, but that’s only the beginning. The data available within analytics software is incredibly rich, and that’s why it’s such a valuable tool for improving your content – and your web design.

For this article, we’re using Google Analytics, but most analytics software has similar data. Here’s a snapshot of the kind of information you can get. You can see:

  • an overview of page views, average time on page, bounce rate and exits
  • an indication of the top content pages on your site by URL (and you can see more if you want to)
  • which your top landing pages were
  • whether your top pages met page speed guidelines

You can also use the visitor flow report and in-page analytics to see how people interact with your site once they get there. Analytics helps you find out whether design features are hampering the effectiveness of your content and whether you need to improve the content itself.

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For example, if your analytics report shows that slow page load is making people leave your site quickly even though you’re confident about the quality of the content, then you know it’s time for a redesign focused on page load speed. And if you’re unsure where to place certain elements on the page to best attract your customers, Google’s Experiments feature or another split testing tool can help you troubleshoot that issue. This is a good way to check on formatting, typography and other content display issues too.

Identifying your top performing content via analytics software can help you decide which content to feature when you redesign your site. You might want to incorporate something like a featured content slider or a popular content list into your page design to give already popular content more visibility. Equally, you may choose to use your CMS to take great content that’s not performing as well and tweak both content and web placement to improve its reach.

At the same time, you can improve internal linking and content visibility by using analytics data to guide you on the display of related content. And you may want to check out the social reports in analytics to see whether you should add new social sharing buttons or highlight social proof for your most shared content.

There’s one final design issue resulting from analytics data – you can use the information you get to design new products based on content you already KNOW is doing well. The Content Marketing Institute gives eight examples of how you can repurpose blog posts into other content, whether that’s taking the key points from your post and turning them into a series of tweets or a slide deck or expanding a popular post into a new ebook.

Whichever you choose, the knowledge you have from the analytics data about what web visitors like will help you design better content products – and better websites!