Let me introduce your customers — or why you need website analytics tools


You managed to set up an effective marketing campaign and drive traffic to your website. The number of daily visitors is high, but for some reason, they don’t convert as you expected them to do. Let’s see how you can learn about your visitors — who they are, what they do on your website, what they like and what makes them quit your website.

Find your customer in demographics data

First thing first — collect basic demographic data of your visitors. Their age, their gender, which country they come from and even their interests. This is especially important if a major part of your website traffic is the organic search traffic. Because while setting up a marketing campaign you can set up a precise targeting based on the above-mentioned params and expect the traffic driven from the campaign to correspond to the targeting params. That’s not the case with organic search targeting that you do in a much more complicated way and always need to test how well the content you write reaches your targeting audience.

The most famous tool for collecting and analyzing website visitors’ data is Google Analytics. I’m pretty confident you have heard of it before many times. And I bet it is already installed on your website! What you might not know is how much comprehensive this tool is. It can give any sort of the stats regarding your visitors you wish — their country, age, gender, interests, internet provider network they use, the channel they came from (organic or social or directly, etc.), their devices and browsers. The stats include not just numbers of daily sessions but also bounce rates and an average number of pages visited per session. Moreover, you can perform an advanced segmentation of data in order to compare and analyze it more precisely.

Google Analytics gives a clear insight into the interests of your most loyal visitors

There are smaller players on the field if you want to try something new or different and not that comprehensive as Google Analytics. One of them is called Simple Analytics, and it is a rising star. Unlike Google Analytics it is not free, but as they fairly say on the landing page — “When a service is free you are the product. We won’t ever sell your data. As a result, we need to charge”. So, privacy is one of the highest goals for Simple Analytics, as well as simplicity. They don’t offer millions of metrics and suggest just a few most important ones. This is a relatively new product so they are not overloaded with too much legacy infrastructure. Which means that as a bonus you will get the simplicity of setup and interoperability with all modern UI JavaScript frameworks. Your dev team will appreciate that.

simple analytics
Simple Analytics is…simple!

Track your customers’ way with behavioral stats

Metrics are great, but they only say which event happened and how often. Metrics do not explain what precedes an event. If you want to know about the path flow of the visitors of your website and track their path before they quit or convert into qualified leads then you need behavioral stats.

One such kind of stats is included in Google Analytics. It is called behavior flow and it allows tracking the path of your visitors between the pages of your website. For every page visited on a website, it gives a number of quits as well as the next page visited. Combined with other features of Google Analytics like segmentation, behavior flow stats can be extremely insightful!

behavior flow
Behavior Flow visualizes visitors’ path to every page on your website

If you want a more precise tracking of your website visitors’ activity then you need so-called custom events. Integrating custom events is a more complicated procedure than integrating metrics collecting script and will require some efforts from the side of your development team. The idea is to manually trigger an event whenever a user performs an action on your website. You can collect any sort of events — a link click, a button click, a page scrolled to a certain position, a lead form populated or an image zoomed in. Virtually anything. You can do these things with Google’s product that is called Tags Manager. Needless to say it nicely integrates with Google Analytics.

But before deciding on Google Tags you should see their competitors. Mixpanel does similar things — it triggers events based on users’ activity. But Mixpanel doesn’t stop there and goes further, allowing you taking actions on so-called cohorts of users (which analog of Google’s segments). For example, you can send push-notifications to users who visited a landing page and then navigated to the Pricing page.

Mixpanel allows tracking website and email events

Finally, you can track what your visitors click on your website. Such tools like Hotjar allow tracking the movements of a mouse on a page as well as clicks. Hotjar can build a heat map of clicks on any page of your website. It perfectly suits UI/UX tests as it allows visualizing which parts of a page catch the attention of a visitor and which are taking so much of his interest that makes him click.

Hotjar represents clicks on the pages of your website as a heatmap

See which companies they work for

It is technically possible to identify companies that your website visitors work for (just a company, not names or any other sensitive data). This feature works by matching your visitors’ IP addresses with a database of IP addresses of companies. The service is quite simple to implement and is provided by popular CRMs. For example, Hubspot includes it in their basic plan. There are also dedicated services, like Leadfeeder.

However, be aware that identifying your website visitors’ company is not 100% precise. A person who surfs the internet from an office of Facebook not necessarily works for Facebook. Moreover, the issue with these services is the size of their databases. If they can’t find an IP in their database of the companies they identify the company as an internet provider that owns the IP address. Obviously an internet provider of your visitor is the useless data.

Even this software is not 100% precise you still can get a good bunch of information about your visitors and reach them out by email or on LinkedIn.

Don’t be annoying to them and follow the law

Applying too many tracking tools and widgets will definitely have a negative impact on the page load performance of your website. The reason is that a tracking tool is essentially a javascript code file that must be downloaded and processed by the browser. This procedure takes time and will especially be noticeable on the slow connection of mobile devices. So, don’t add too many tracking tools on your website. Try one or two tools at a time and see if the results are helpful. Remove unnecessary tools, they will cost you page load performance and thus will reduce the conversion rate.

Enough technical details. Now let’s talk about the law. People don’t like to be tracked, especially they don’t like to be implicitly tracked. Thus the law has some restrictions on how the tracking can be done. You should explicitly let your visitors know what data are you going to collect. Amend your Privacy Policies page and include references to all the tools you use, explaining why you are using them and which data they provide you with.

The law became even stricter in Europe with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). According to GDPR, you must not only notify your customers about tracking tools you are using (ubiquitous cookies notices) but also let them opt-out from any track. The EU law defines huge fines for not following the GDPR rules. So as I mentioned above — don’t track too much and always be explicit with your visitors and potential customers!

Some of the GDPR rules breakers

authorSoftware engineer, founder of ottofeller.com

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