Definition: Analytics (Not) Impossible
You know now that measuring web traffic and conversions is extremely important along with the business objectives you have already set. Having a fresh perspective and looking at every angle of your business often leads to new ideas that can quickly turn into growth. Checking your ego at the door is a must and sometimes inviting an outside perspective can be just the thing to help you escape the rut you might have found yourself in.
But wait! It's dangerous to go alone! As you begin your journey of tracking, measuring, and analyzing, we would like to equip you with a few essential definitions for the many terms you will run into out in the wild.
At their core, web analytics are the key to your success online. Without them, you are merely gambling as you would by purchasing a lottery ticket. Consider the massive size of the web combined with how fierce your competition is and instead of fantasizing about more sales and higher profits, make it happen.
Hits (aka impressions) - created when your web server delivers a file to a visitor's browser - can be deceptive if used incorrectly due to inflation
Pageviews - a record of each time a visitor views a web page on your site - how well did your site capture the interest of your visitor?
Page displays - when a page is successfully displayed on the visitor's computer screen
Clickstream - the recorded path, page by page, of the pages a visitor requested while navigating
Referring page (aka site referrers) - the URL of the previous webpage from which a link was followed
Unique visitors - actual number of individual users who came to the website - tells the truth behind the hits - this is the beginning of web analytics wisdom
Keywords (aka keyphrases) - terms used within the search engines that led to your website (or to the competitor's sites if you have not optimized, tisk)
In a brick and mortar, a shopper's habits can be easily assessed, which is how grocery chains know to put all perishables on the perimeter of their stores. The same is true of your website - nothing is secret online and you need to know a visitor's patterns in order to know how to improve their user experience, and ultimately your numbers.
Clickstream (aka after-click rate, path analysis, navigational analysis) - a study of the path visitors take through your site, staring with the referring page and ending with the exit page
Clickthrough rate (CTR) - how often a banner ad is clicked compared with how many times it is viewed
Conversion - when your visitor takes an action such as a purchase, subscription or phone call
Landing page (aka entry page) - the page at which the visitor enters your site
Exit page - the page at which the visitor exits your site
Bounce rate - percentage of visitors who exit from the landing page, having visited no other pages
Navigation - the user's path to getting around your site or between sites (don't forget, search engines also navigate your site)
Visit (aka session) - time from when a visitor enters and then exits your site or a series of sites
Whether for profit or non-profit, every website's goal is conversion. A conversion can come in several forms, as listed above. Actionable data allows you to drill down further so that there is no guesswork.
Aggregate data - summary of the information collected by your website's analytics program
Average lifetime value (ALV) - defines an individual visitor's lifetime value in money terms via past orders (useful when considering special discount offers)
Benchmark - a clearly defined point of reference from which measurements can be made
Key performance indicator (KPI) - how well your site is performing against its goals
Log file - web server records including IP address of the visitor, site referrer, date and time of the visitor, and more
Whether you are a DIY-er or a fan of outsourcing, you'll want to arm yourself with enough knowledge to be dangerous but, keep in mind, this is not an all inclusive list. Luckily, we like hearing from you and we don't bite so shoot us your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have also listed a few great sources below.
"Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability & Science of Customer Centricity" by Avinash Kaushik
Occam's Razor by Avinash Kaushik
"Web Analytics for Dummies" by Pedro Sostre and Jennifer LeClaire