Traffic Analysis Can Improve Your Marketing Campaigns
by Paul J. Bruemmer-2003


Once your site has been promoted with the right mix of 
advertising, PR, and search engine marketing, you'll want to 
measure performance to see how your marketing ROI stacks up. 
Marketers are looking for better returns from their marketing 
campaigns.
 
A good way to measure returns is to examine the data in your 
Web logs, analyzing your traffic for clues to user behavior. 
By analyzing behavioral data, you can fine-tune your site to 
serve customers better and improve your own profitability. 

It's important to know where your visitors go and to notice what 
they like or don't like. Traffic analysis can yield information 
that improves marketing efficiency in two important areas: 

 Making site changes to improve your conversion ratio, and 

 Improving your marketing campaigns to achieve better ROI.


Analyze This

The beauty of online marketing is that your Web site gathers 
behavioral data from all visitors. You can find all the 
information you need for optimal marketing strategies in your 
Web logs. 

The best marketing campaigns are those designed to be measured, 
analyzed, and continuously improved. The problem is that most 
laypeople don't know what to analyze or what actions to take as 
data is recorded. It's not always easy to know what to measure 
and why.

Traffic Analysis Data

Web logs provide user activity information on your Web site 
traffic. Analyzing your Web logs will familiarize you with the 
way visitors navigate your site. You can collect baseline 
information that tells you: 

 Total Page Views 
 Daily Unique Visitors
 Hourly Unique Visitors
 Total Visits
 First Time Visitors
 Repeat Visitors
 Daily Returning Visitors

Then you can look at averages such as:

 Average Page Views per Visitor
 Average Visits per Visitor
 Average Visit Length
 Average Page Views per Hour of this Day
 Average Unique Visitors per Hour of This Day
 Average Visits per Hour of This Day

E-commerce sites will find these statistics of value:

 Total Revenue 
 Total Orders 
 Total Unique Buyers 
 Most Active and Least Active Time Period
 Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate
 First Time Visitor Conversions
 Repeat Visitor Conversions
 Buyer to Browser Ratio

All this raw data resides in your Web logs, but it's hard to 
organize without traffic analysis tools. WebTrends by netiQ 
is a popular analytical tool, and the information above was 
excerpted from its Executives "Top 10" Tables. Additional 
traffic analysis tools can be found on download.com, including 
some low-end tools like HitBox, LiveStats, Urchin. Many high-end 
tools with advanced functionality are available as well.

Site Changes to Improve Conversions

What can you measure to identify the site changes that will 
improve your conversion ratio? This depends on the nature of 
your site, whether it's an e-commerce site selling products 
and services, a media publishing content site, or purely an 
informational site. Each site will have specific goals. The best 
way to determine how well your site attracts and retains visitors 
to meet these goals is to identify all possible reasons why a 
user would visit your Web site, such as:

 Gather in-depth information on products/services
 Look for email or phone contacts to ask questions about 
  products/services
 Purchase products/services
 Compare pricing of products/services
 Check status of pending order for products/services
 Get more information or tips on using purchased products
 Look for customer service assistance
 Report a malfunction of online forms or shopping cart
 Register for newsletters, product updates, marketing brochures, 
  white papers, etc.
 Research next-generation products
 Join an online community
 Read news headlines, industry news, business articles, etc.
 Research information on accessories for purchased 
  products/services
 Check out new product offerings 
 Troubleshoot problems related to purchased products/service

Once you identify the reasons why users visit your site, you can 
assign desired actions to visitor clusters and follow their 
movements within your site to determine how successful you are 
in meeting your goals. 

If you lead them to subscribe to a free newsletter and they fail 
to register, you need to find out why. You might be asking for 
too much information. The form might not be user-friendly or 
functional. Maybe your description wasn't compelling enough. 
Identify the roadblocks and take whatever action is necessary 
to improve your conversion rate.

Path navigation analysis can give you the information you need 
to make navigation easier and to adjust or eliminate content 
to meet your customers' needs. These changes can increase 
conversions and customer satisfaction.

Evaluating Campaign Performance

There are several measures you can use to analyze the 
effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. Each company will 
have different objectives; therefore, the key performance 
measures will vary. Below are six basic measures you can use 
for evaluating the performance of any marketing campaign. 

 Total Unique Visitors - This is the number of visitors who 
  responded to your campaign by coming to your Web site.

 Total Desired Actions - This is the number of visitors who 
  responded to your call-to-action. The call-to-action depends 
  on your objectives. It might be registering for a newsletter 
  or trial, purchasing a product or service, registering for a 
  seminar, or subscribing to paid services, etc.

 Cost Per Desired Action - This is the cost of generating each 
  desired action. It is measured by dividing total campaign 
  expense by the number of desired actions generated.

 Conversion Rate - This is the percentage of unique visitors 
  completing your desired action. It is measured by dividing 
  total desired actions by the total unique visitors.

 Total Revenue - This is your total revenue generated by a 
  specific campaign.

 Percentage ROI - Calculate the return on investment for each 
  campaign by subtracting total costs from total revenue, then 
  dividing by total cost.

Once you've defined your performance metrics, you can use visitor 
behavior analysis to test the success of your marketing message 
or the effectiveness of various offers. If you want to know how 
effective your search engine marketing techniques are, you can 
compare your choice of various strategies:

 Site analysis and optimization 
 Offsite development
 Linking strategy 
 Paid inclusion 
 Paid placement
 Manual search engine submissions (Inktomi, Google, Lycos, 
  AltaVista) 
 Manual directory submissions (Yahoo!, Open Directory Project, 
  LookSmart) 

You might find that paid placement is less cost effective over 
time and can be dropped as paid inclusion and manual submissions 
take hold. By making use of Web analytics, you can tweak your 
marketing campaigns for increased conversions, lower acquisition 
costs, and improved ROI.

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Paul J. Bruemmer mailto:paul2@web-ignite.com is the CEO of Web 
Ignite, http://www.web-ignite.com/ a search engine marketing 
company founded in 1995. Web-Ignite earned a top grade in the 
Buyers' Guide to Search Engine Optimization Firms and has helped 
promote over 15,000 Web sites. Client testimonials report 
traffic increases of 150 to 500 percent. Bruemmer's articles 
have appeared on ClickZ and other publications.
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