An introduction to website conversion analysis

An introduction to website conversion analysis

August 2010 Bristol.  This get-together of the Bath and Bristol Marketing Network drew record crowds at its new venue, the Square Bar, for Dan Fallon’s talk on website conversion analysis.

Bryony Thomas summarises the key advice from the session.

The focus of Dan’s talk was to introduce marketers to the wealth of powerful analysis tools available free from Google and how to start putting them into effect for any size of business.

Taking ecommerce examples as the basis for discussion, Dan employed a compelling analogy to wake people up to what they’re doing if they ignore conversion analysis on their website. He asked us to imagine setting up a small shop, and then insisting on locking ourselves in the back room hoping that people would sort themselves out and slip cash through a hole in the door before leaving. Now, we all know that we spend more in shops where we have a warm welcome, we know where to find what we’re looking for and there’s a friendly person to ask a little advice of if we need to. If a shop owner is asked for a particular product that they don’t stock, every day for a week, they might choose to add it to their range. And that’s what we need to know for our websites. We need to know about what the people who don’t buy. What were they looking for, or what them put them off and why? Knowledge is power, and once we know, we can make it easier for more people make it through to parting with their cash.

So, what tools are available? Dan introduced us to two free tools available from Google – Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics/) and Website Optimizer (http://www.google.com/websiteoptimizer/tour.html). Dan explained that what Google want is for you to sign their cheques with a big fat smile on your face. They want you to see a direct correlation between spending money with them and making money for yourself. By doing this they know that you will happily spend more with them in the future. So, Dan’s top tip is to make use of the free tools that Google is making available. You’re paying for it in the price of everything you buy online anyway!

Google Analytics

Dan pointed out two critical pieces of information beyond things like numbers of visitors that Analytics lays on a plate for you:

  • Traffic sources – from Twitter, adwords, a Blog you’ve commented on, you’ll see where people are coming from.
  • Top content – what content on your site is most popular.

With a bit of elbow grease, Dan also talked about the powerful tool called ‘Goals’ where you determine what actions you want people to take on your website and allocate a ‘goal’. The system then counts those goals and allows you to track back the source for visitors that take that action. This can be great for determining between high quality traffic generators and sources that might create volume, but no follow-though. Dan pointed out that goals don’t have to be financial. You can set goals like number of pages viewed, time on site, registration, reading a blog, etc. So, this is a tool as useful for services as it is for sales.

For ecommerce sites, Dan strongly advised getting the Google ecommerce pack added to your analytics set-up. This is completely free from Google, but you may need a little help from a developer.

Google Website Optimizer

Optimizer is a newer tool from Google that lets you test different versions of the same web page. You can vary imagery, headline, copy, etc. and let Google tell you which is most the effective according to the success factor you’ve indicated. By using this with the ‘goals’ tool described above, you can map out the sales funnel through your website. This allows you to visualise where people drop out of your sales process. You can then refine and test the pages that are causing problems, to help more people to move right through to your end goal. You will either need a clever website content management system that allows you to create multiple page versions, or the assistance of a developer to create pages. You can then get Google to serve the page to a statistically sound range of visitors. When it has gathered enough data it will start only serving the one that works best.

If there’s just one thing that Dan wanted the audience to take away it is that it is equally, if not more, important to spend energy working out what works on your website as it is to spend precious cash getting people there in the first place.

Dan Fallon is managing director of bath-based Search Star Ltd, specialists in Pay-Per-Click Advertising, Analytics and Conversion Optimisation.