Analytics and Trends: What You Should Look For
It happens to every web agency at some point or another, a client, seduced by promises of greatness from another web company, leaves in pursuit of a mythical amount of customer traffic and leads for their business. Most times, however, it’s just that – mythical.
Recently, we had the opportunity to follow up with one of our dealers who left our agency in such a pursuit. When asked how business was doing since the switch, the dealer stated he was happy with the results he was currently getting from the new web agency and that he had no complaints.
Curious about what results the dealer was now getting and thinking that we might learn something as an agency, we pulled a Year Over Year comparison of how the dealer was doing a year ago, when they were with us, compared to how they are doing now. What we discovered was really eye opening not only for us but for the dealer as well – their traffic has dropped 25% since they switched.
After informing the dealer of the drop in traffic, they thanked us for the shocking information and stated they were going to follow up on it with the new web agency.
So why are we telling you all this? Because we see web companies telling their clients that they are doing well all the time. However, most of these companies are not being transparent by actually showing their clients any data to back up those claims. We want clients to be knowledgeable about how to quantify their results by being able to look at their stats and actually know how their site is doing.
So here are a few things to consider when analyzing your website’s results and your agency’s performance.
Feelings Versus Data
Let’s face it. We all want to feel good and nothing does that better than having an ‘expert’ tell you you’re doing great. However, being told your website is doing fantastic is one thing but word of mouth should never replace actual data.
Any great web agency will not only be able to tell you how your site is doing but they will also be able to provide the data to prove it. Don’t take their word for it. Ask for hardcore data that shows how it is actually doing and ask them to explain anything you don’t understand. If they can’t do that, there’s a big problem that needs to be addressed.
Always Have Access To Your Stats
It’s great to have the experts deliver your stats to you in a neatly complied report on a regular basis. However, you should always be able to review your stats any time you need or want to.
Most agencies primarily use the Google Analytics and Google Adwords consoles due to Google’s amazing ability to collect and report an abundance of metrics. In addition to Google, agencies may also use independent third-party stats to back up proprietary information provided by their developer’s own client console.
A great web agency will provide you with access to the platform or third-party site where they retrieve your stats from so that you can take a peruse and start gaining an understanding of what they mean. Any questions you have about what things mean or how stats work should be easily explained by your web agency handling your account.
Make Sure “Guarantees” Are Backed Up
There are a lot of agencies that will throw out lofty promises regarding the results you’ll get from using them. Most of the time they will use confusing SEO or social media jargon in an attempt to sound like an ‘expert’ and convince you they are the best in their field.
Always make sure that any expert you hire backs up their guarantees or promises with concrete, proven facts. These guarantees and promises should be in writing with specific promises outlined, such as money back or 1 month free, if and when they don’t deliver on the guaranteed results. Web agencies should also be able to easily show the results that they’ve consistently gotten for other clients as well as create a realistic goal for your business going forward.
Know The Basics
Now once you hire a web agency to improve your business site, you should be able to let them do their job and work for you. However, as a business owner you should know at least the basics when it comes to analytics. So here are a few key metrics that you should be aware of and understand.
- Traffic Sources – This is exactly what it sounds like. Basically it’s telling you where the people who visit your site are coming from. These are labeled organic search, direct, social, and referral traffic.
- Organic search is when someone enters a search term into a search engine. The results from that search are called ‘organic’. When someone searches a term and your business comes up in the results and they click on your website link because of that search, it is labeled organic traffic.
- Direct traffic, again, is exactly what it sounds like – people are typing in your site’s URL directly or clicking on you website link from a bookmark that they have saved.
- Social traffic is traffic that comes to your site from a social media platform of some kind.
- Referral traffic is traffic that comes from other websites, usually a link in a blog, web page, or review, etcetera.
- Bounce Rate – This is when a visitor to your site leaves after viewing only one page. Reasons for a high bounce rate are varied by can include visitors not being able to find what they are looking for, poor SEO strategy, or possible issues with your website like slow load times.
- Conversion Rate – Depending on your business, conversion rate can be any goal that you’ve set for your site from getting visitors to sign up for your email list to downloading an e-book to making a purchase. Before being able to track your site’s conversion rate you need to decide what the goal is for your site and then set up tracking on that specific item.
- User Demographics – Many businesses will know exactly who their users are and not need this information from their analytics data. However, many businesses might think they know who their users are and be very surprised that they have been directing their efforts towards the wrong people. Therefore being aware of your site’s user demographics can give you very useful information on how and who to market to.
- Average Session Duration and Pages per Session – Both of these metrics give insights into how long visitors to your site are staying. The longer they stay, the more likely they are to convert.
- Cost Per Conversion (CPC) – This metric shows how much it’s costing you to get someone to convert on your site. If it costs you $100 to get someone to buy a $10 item on your site, you might want to rethink your advertising strategy. Conversely, if it’s costing you .58 cents to get someone to buy that same $10 item on your site, you can be confident that things are going well.
- Visits – A visitor to your site is someone who has already visited your website and has come back for another viewing of your site.
- Unique Visitors – A unique visitor is someone who has never before been to your site before this first visit.
These are just a few important analytics that you should be aware of and understand. The web agency that is handling your site should be able to give you these metric and more. They should also be able to easily explain to you what they mean and how they will work to improve your site’s ranking and results. They should also be able to show how they have improved your site’s results. If they can’t, it may be time to look for another agency to help your business achieve its goals.