Web analytics are important to every website and blog owner out there. Without web analytics, how do you know just how well your site is performing? If you’re new to this, then you may not know what features to look for, but don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.
1. Features To Look For
Web analytics programs all have different features that they offer. Depending on what your website is meant for, you may or may not need certain statistics, but there are some that are definitely a real benefit to your website.
One feature that we always look for in an analytical program is real time data. Yes, we’re well aware that Google Analytics doesn’t offer this, so people who love GA will probably disagree with us. But we like seeing what people are doing on our site any time we decide to pop onto our analytical program dashboard. It’s also nice to have email reports, bounce rate reports, and conversion reports available for anyone who has a site that is selling something.
Another great feature that anyone will appreciate is having the ability to customize your dashboard. Like we said, we all may have a different purpose for keeping analytical data on our website or websites, so having a dashboard that you can have display exactly what you want will save you a lot of time and frustration. Also, as smartphones are becoming increasingly popular, having a program that allows for mobile access and mobile browser monitoring is a nice extra feature (though not necessary).
If you have multiple websites, then having multi-site monitoring is an absolute must. Also consider going with a program that has social media capabilities. Social media is really growing right now and is becoming an integral part of anyone’s internet marketing plan, so having the ability to track your social media marketing campaign is becoming more and more important.
2. Traffic Stats To Look For
Every single program out there should have page views available, as well as unique visitors. If you happen to stumble upon analytical software that doesn’t offer this, then ditch it immediately. It’s also pretty important to have information like most popular pages, visitor paths, time spent on a page and time spent on the site available to you, as well as visit histories. Entry and exit pages should be there, as well as exit links so that you can really get a good feel of how people are getting to your website, and how they are leaving your website.
3. Reporting Stat Intervals To Look For
The one drawback to a lot of free analytical programs out there is that they are pretty limited on their report stat intervals. While this again may boil down to a matter of preference, in all truth you should be able to get reports almost whenever you want. This should include:
And you should also be able to customize the date range so that you can really get the most in depth look at your stats whenever you want. This is particularly important as the traffic on your website may increase and decrease during certain times of the year. For instance, if you sell products or services, you’ll want to see where the peeks and valleys are when it comes to your conversion rates, traffic, and more. This information will really allow you to fine tune and polish up your marketing campaign.
4. File Exporting To Look For
This more or less boils down to a matter of preference, but having the more file exporting options available to you, the better. Almost all programs offer Excel file exporting (that’s pretty much a given), but you want to look for thing like XML, PDF, CSV, HTML and even Word file exporting if that’s your preference.
5. Visitor Detail To Look For
There are a lot of visitor details you’ll probably want to know, such as which city, State, country, and time zone your visitors are coming from. Knowing their language, username, browser, operating system and screen resolution will really help you maximize your website so that it looks and runs its best for the vast majority of your visitors (no visitor will appreciate a laggy, sloppy looking website). Other information that you may want or need includes:
- Whether their cookies are enabled or not
- Who their ISP is
- Their IP Address
- Host name or organization name
This type of information is what will really allow you to see who your target market is, and then see if that’s matching up with who your target market is “supposed” to be.
6. Support Features To Look For
How you like to be helped really is a matter of preference but no matter what, all analytical programs should have email support, as well as a knowledge base or FAQ-base that you can access at all times.
A program that’s put together the thought and time to put out tutorials or training materials for its users is one that shows that it really does value its customers, so that’s a definitely plus. Telephone support is also great, as is online chat support. User moderated forums are a nice feature, but unless you have a lot of time on your hands, we found that these are generally not necessary.
No matter what kind of customer support they have, the best thing that any company can offer is 24/7 customer support, with customer support agents who actually know their stuff. There are a lot of analytical programs out there who obviously don’t train their customer service agents all too well. If you ever call up a customer service line and get the “clear your cache and cookies” or “have you tried turning your computer on or off?” type of “help”, then you know just how valuable a company with good customer support is.