8 Ways to Use Web Analytics to Increase Online Sales

Experts share their top tips on how businesses should interpret and use Web analytics reporting to improve customer engagement and increase purchasing on their websites.

By Jennifer Lonoff Schiff
Thu, January 16, 2014

CIO — Just about every online business or business with a website uses an analytics tool to track traffic. However, more often than not, business owners and managers do not take full advantage of the information contained in analytics reports - or they don't know how to.

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So how should businesses interpret Web analytics data -- and leverage that information to decrease bounce and exit rates and increase sales on their website? To find out, CIO.com asked dozens of Web analytics and marketing experts. Their top eight tips on how to use web analytics data to improve conversion rates and sales appear below.

[Note: Most of the advice below refers to Google Analytics. However, it can also be applied to other Web analytics software and services.]

See how people are accessing your site (mobile devices vs. laptops or desktops) -- and optimize accordingly. "Look at how sales, especially conversion rates, differ by device type," says Bill Elward, CIO, Castle Ink, a provider of remanufactured ink cartridges, laser toner and printer cartridges.

[Related: 6 Google Analytics Tips for Online Marketers and Small Business Owners]

"With close to 40 percent of Internet activity generated via mobile devices, it's critical to understand which devices are being used to access your website," Elward says. "Be sure to look at conversion funnels and bounce rates by device for your key conversion pages as it could highlight issues such as page load [times] and layout [problems]." And if customers are using mobile devices to view your site, make sure the entire site is mobile friendly.

Track where traffic is coming from -- to help determine where to invest marketing dollars and time. Ask yourself, "Is your traffic coming from other websites (referrals), social media or search engines (paid/organic)?" says Mike Wolfe, CEO, WAM Enterprises, a digital marketing agency. "Knowing where traffic comes from can help you understand where to invest more time and money to increase traffic."

"Analytics data can [also] allow you to understand what marketing channel is leading to the most conversions on your website," adds Chris Meares, director of Analytics at MaassMedia, a boutique digital analytics consulting firm.

[Related: How Analytics Tools Measure a Corporate Turnaround]

"By tracking marketing campaigns -- email, display and paid search -- companies can understand what campaigns are contributing to conversion by utilizing the Google Analytics attribution model," Meares says. "By understanding the conversion rates of each campaign, a company can move their marketing budgets to the most productive marketing channel."

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