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If you’ve ever worked in the entertainment industry, you know the most important thing to keep an eye on isn’t the band up on stage, but the audience. Taking note of what gets them fired up, whose names they chant, and what songs make them check their emails helps creators form the most explosive show possible.
When you’re working on a website for your company, the same rules apply. The more information you have on your visitors’ behavior, preferences, and overall experience, the better. Tracking your website visitors and knowing how they found their way to your site allows you to focus on what’s working, and take your site to the next level.
Let’s zero in on the power that website tracking can give you, and get you ready to rock your users' faces off in the new year!
What is Website Tracking?
Unfortunately, if your company runs a website you don’t have the luxury of being able to look out over a crowded audience and get the vibe with your eyes alone. Website tracking takes a little more intentionality and planning than that.
If you want a read on your customers, website tracking requires you to monitor and collect data on their behaviors and interactions on your website. It uses a variety of analytics tools and tracking codes to gather information about how folks find your site, what pages pique their interest, how long they stay, and much much more.
Benefits of Tracking Website Activity
The data collected through website tracking can give you valuable insights into the minds of your customers and can help you craft the best digital marketing campaigns possible. There’s a lot to be gained, including
- Conversion Rate Optimization - You can track specific conversion goals, such as sign-ups or purchases, and analyze the steps users take to complete them. This can help you find areas that need improvement, and help you cement your sales funnel
- Understanding User Behaviour - Gain insights into which pages your customers visit, how long they spend on each page, and where they drop off. You can use this information to optimize your website for user experience
- Content Optimization - See exactly what types of content resonate with your audience and lead to conversions
- Audience Segmentation - Get information about your customer base such as demographics, interests, behaviors, and engagement levels. This allows you to deliver personalized experiences and targeted marketing campaigns, greatly increasing conversion rates
- Tracking Marketing Campaigns - Find out exactly how successful your marketing campaigns are by tracking referral sources, organic sources, and more. How are customers finding you, and how can you help them do so?
- Identifying Website Issues - Page load time, error rates, and user feedback can help you pinpoint areas of your website that are breeding frustration. By fixing technical issues, you can improve user experience and bounce rate
The sheer amount of ways you can use the data collected through website tracking makes it essential for any team trying to make data-driven decisions.
Core KPIs For Website Tracking
It’s great that you can reap all these benefits from tracking your site, but what exactly are the data points you should be collecting? Here are just a few to get you started.
- Website Traffic - The total number of visitors to your site. Includes page views, unique visitors, and sessions
- Conversion Rate - Percentage of visitors who complete a desired action, such as making a purchase, filling out a form, or subscribing to a newsletter
- Bounce Rate - Percentage of users who leave after only viewing one page. A high bounce rate can point to irrelevant or unengaging content, slow page load times, or poor user experience
- Average Session Duration - How long are folks staying on your website? The longer they stick around, the more engaging they find your content
These KPIs are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the data you can collect from users on your website. Make sure you have a clear goal in mind when setting up tracking, and start with the information that is most relevant to you.
Tracking Within the Law
As helpful as data collection is for a company, you don’t want to end up with Big Brother amounts of information on folks. It’s immoral and honestly a little creepy.
What's more, even if you land more on the data-maniac side of things, there are tons of laws and regulations in place to protect individuals’ personal information and safeguard their privacy rights. These laws vary by country and region but generally aim to restrict the collection, storage, and usage of personal data without explicit consent from the user.
There are a few things you can do no matter where you’re based to ensure you’re complying with regulations and keeping things above board.
One: Obtain Consent
Checkboxes, pop-ups, and privacy policies are all great ways to quickly get consent. You need to be clear about the specific data you’re collecting, how it will be used, and who it will be shared with.
Two: Anonymize Data
Whenever possible, aggregate and anonymize the collected data to remove personally identifiable information. User segmentation is key here, as this information will be added to a pile without losing its effectiveness.
The biggest consideration here is whether or not data can be linked back to individual users. You want to keep people’s trust and privacy even if you are sharing this information with a third party.
Three: Be Transparent
If someone wants to know what data you have on them, they should be able to easily find that out. Make sure your users have access to information about
- Types of Data Collected
- Storage Duration
- Third Parties Involved
- How to Opt-Out of Tracking
Chances are, the majority of users won’t need this information, but making it available instills trust and keeps data collection kosher.
Common Methods of Website Tracking
There are lots of different ways to gather user data on your website, and most businesses will end up using a variety of methods. These are some of the most common tools that you might want in your arsenal.
Perhaps the most delicious sounding kind of tracking, cookies are small text files that are stored on a user’s device when they visit a website. You’ve probably seen them mentioned on all those popups that arrive when you check out a new site for the first time.
Because they are so common, any device used to surf the web turns into a veritable cookie jar, tracking preferences, browsing history, and login details. This data can then be used to provide personalized experiences and targeted ads.
Maybe you’ve heard hackers or detectives on TV talk about tracking someone’s IP address. These fictionalized accounts make IP tracking sound a lot more complicated and intense than it really is.
Every device connected to the internet has an IP (Internet Protocol) address that is entirely unique. Websites can track these addresses to find out a visitor’s location, internet service provider, and even browsing patterns.
This is especially useful when you need information about traffic and demographics.
Traffic Tracking Software
Software like Google Analytics and ReferralHero can give you an ultra-detailed look at customers. If you want to know how your users found your site, and exactly what they’re doing while they’re there, you’ll want a traffic tracker.
These tools allow you to find out
- Links Clicked
- Pages Viewed
- Actions Taken
- Lead Sources
- Conversion Rates
They will also present the data in an easy-to-understand way, allowing you to take action on the insights in real time.
If you’ve ever signed up for a website, you’re already familiar with this type of tracking. When you create a user account, you provide personal information that the website can use to understand and track your behavior on their site. This allows businesses to create a more personalized experience and provide recommendations based on your interests and past activity.
User accounts also allow you to save your preferences and settings, making it easier for customers to access your site in the future. You can track their purchase history to offer targeted promotions or discounts, or simply offer an optimized and customizable experience.
Surveys and Feedback Forms
It may be less high-tech than the other methods, but conducting a survey is one of the only ways to get qualitative data from your audience. By getting information directly from the source, you can have a more comprehensive look at users' needs and preferences.
The Bottom Line
The main focus of any successful business is the customers. You need to know what makes them tick, what their pain points are, and ultimately what will get them invested in your company.
Website tracking gives you a glimpse into the minds of your users and gives you the data and confidence you need to optimize their online experience with your brand. By having the right tools and knowing exactly how to use them, you can ensure your team has everything they need to get your audience on their feet.
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