I love statistics. How could you not? Statistics offer you the chance to see what worked in the past and hints as to how you might succeed in the future. The stats that most interest me these days (besides Fantasy Baseball stats) are website and search marketing analytics.
For any small business marketer, analytics are a low-cost way to monitor the effectiveness of your online (and some off-line) marketing programs. You can monitor which keywords are performing well in organic and paid search campaigns, monitor conversions, track landing pages, see where your visitors are located, and much more. But, did you know that search marketing has an alter ego?
To the delight of many small businesses, search marketing doubles as a market research tool. Many analytics packages are cheap (or free) these days which offers marketers a chance to take a snap shot of their target market without spending alot of time or money. Let’s outline a few ways you can conduct market research through your analytics:
Long-tailed keywords: Checking what search terms were used to get to your site can offer you insight into what interests your customers the most. Let’s take a simple example (and please note I have no experience with selling shoes). Say, for instance, you sold shoes online. Typical terms that lead to your site may include running shoes, tennis shoes, dress shoes, etc. If you’re monitoring your logs you may start to see trends on customer searches – for instance, “black plain-toe dress shoes” or “women’s low-heel dress shoes”. If you see trends develop around color, style, ect. you may be seeing the interests of your customers come out via their searching behavior. With this information, you can select product imagery or descriptive text in upcoming ads or landing page content that might put you a step ahead of your competition in landing a conversion.
Navigational Analysis: The Google Analytics package I’m using for one of my sites has a great navigational feature that allows you to open up any page on your site and see where people click to from that page. What a great way to spy on your visitors and learn what they’re really after (hopefully not the exit!). Finding popular links in your site can help you learn what is currently popular with your customers. Maybe its time to push that material to the home page or use it in upcoming online or print ads?
Bounce rate vs. Page Views: Select a few of the keywords that are at the core of your business and analyze what happens when searchers click on your organic or paid ad result when searching on those keywords. Do they click through to more information on your site or do they leave without any more page views? Results can give you feedback on how your products and services are connecting with your target audience. If a keyword represents a popular product or service in the marketplace and your bounce rate is high, it’s obvious your customers are looking for something else than what you have to offer. Possibly a different variation? If page views are high (and hopefully conversions) on certain keywords, you must be hitting the mark. Maybe its time to transition your approach on those keywords to some of your higher bounce rate keywords.
Organic Page Views vs. PPC Page Views: Ever wonder where your customers are in their buying cycle? Organic page views vs. PPC page views may offer you some insight. Some may argue, but I believe PPC clicks are from people who have gone past the research phase and are moving into the buying or researching vendor phase in the search marketing funnel. Again, take a few of the keywords at the core of your business and see which search result – organic or PPC – is getting more page views. This can help you understand where your customers are in the decision process and how you can tailor a message to take advantage of that.
Location of Clicks: I enjoy seeing from where in the world clicks come to get to my sites. Far reaching places I’ve never heard of show up in my logs. This is valuable information. Perhaps you’re seeing a rise in clicks from Europe or maybe, if you’re a more local US establishment, you’re seeing clicks coming from a bordering state. Either way, if a trend becomes significant, the time may have come to offer products or services in that bordering state or time for a focused ad campaign in Europe.
Market research is very time consuming and if you’re a small business marketer, it means time is being pulled from something else. The above methods can save you time and money and offer you in-depth insights into the interests and habits of your customers. Do you use analytics for any market research I don’t mention above?