Implementing Web Analytics

Measuring arrivals, visitor activity, and departures is the lifeblood of a web business. Without this information, you can’t make smart decisions about your content, marketing, or business model. You can collect basic analytics data, such as bounce rate and visits, with just a few minutes’ work.

More advanced deployment—tracking goals, building custom segments, and tagging content—takes work, however. And if you want to use analytics for accounting data (such as daily orders) as well as for site optimization, you’ll probably have to work with the development team to extract additional information from backend databases.

There are free (or cheap) analytics solutions from the big advertising vendors, and Google Analytics has done a tremendous amount to make web operators aware of analytics.

Whatever you’re doing, your implementation will have six basic steps:

  1. Defining your site’s goals

  2. Setting up data capture

  3. Setting up filtering

  4. Identifying segments by which to analyze goals

  5. Tagging page content

  6. Verifying that everything is working

Let’s look at the steps you’ll need to take to implement web analytics.

Define Your Site’s Goals

Your first step is to understand and map out your web business.

That might sound like a platitude, but it’s an essential step in the process. Grab a whiteboard and some markers, and draw out your site using the places-and-tasks model outlined above. In each place, list what makes a visitor “productive.” For each task, identify the steps a visitor ...

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