Gain a powerful advantage by using analytics tools

I consistently preach that understanding your audience, users, customers etc is a must in succeeding in (online) business. Using analytics tools is a great way to learn about their behavior on your own website. It’s such a powerful advantage! Essentially, analytics help you make smarter decision from marketing campaigns all the way to business decision.

Someone in your company needs to view, present and discuss data from on a regular basis. Otherwise, how else are you going to be in the know about what people are doing on your website? I will go into detail about specific KPIs in next week’s post: what KPIs are, why are they important and how to pick the right ones for your business. But for now, let’s discuss the options available to you as far as analytics tools go.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the most common analytics tool. It’s free and it is powerful. It’s the tool I’ve been relying on the most up until now. Google Analytics’ main attraction is its ability to tell you information about your traffic. Where is it coming from? Who are these people? Where are they from? Which traffic source drives the most leads? Which page is the most visited? Least visited? And so on…

Analytics is a critical component to building your business. Without analytics, you’ll be running your website in the dark with no way to know what’s working and what’s not.

Yehoshua Coren, Using Google Analytics to Grow Your Business

This tool isn’t the easiest to get around, but it can give you a good general overview of who is coming to your site and from where. Google Analytics can also dive very deeply into understanding traffics flows, conversion rates, or other goals you have for your website or your campaigns. You can easily tell whether how well your SEO or ad efforts are doing.

Kissmatricks has a fantastic post on things you must track with Google Analytics.

I relaunched my website it at the beginning of March 2018. At a quick glance, Google Analytics showed me that in the month of March, I decreased my own bounce rate by ~10% (compared to February). For those of you that are unfamiliar, it means the % of people who left my website after only viewing a single page. Amazing! Google Analytics also says that, on average, people stay on my website for over 1 minute. That means that my visitors are exploring my website and reading it. They want to know more about me, my services or what I have to say on my blog. Yay!

Screenshot of my Google Analytics dashboard at time of press

It also shows you that the number of people (users) and the number of visits (sessions) have decreased by a lot! 92.7% and 88.9% decrease compared to February. That’s not very good. Not good at all. 😱 (It’s because I stopped promoting my content since the relaunch. Ops!)

There is more to analytics than Google Analytics

But, Google Analytics isn’t everything. Like I mentioned in the introduction of this article, I have explored more tools to get a better understanding of my visitors. In the rest of this article, I run down five additional analytics tools and what kind of information they are useful for. Yes, I will let you know which ones I ended up using for myself too.

Sumo

I decided to give Sumo a try on my site a while ago andI’m bringing it back. It’s free and it’s a good tool. It works really great for blogs and companies with email lists. That’s exactly why I chose to add it to my site. They have great tools for gaining more signup through popups or content upgrades. One of their tools I plan to use is the Scroll Box. It’d great for getting more people signed up for consultation calls or to sign up for my email list. I plan on using Sumo’s AB tests to see which callout will convert move.

Screenshot of Sumo's website

Another tool that many websites seem to favor is Sumo’s Welcome Mat. It shows an email signup form with a value prop of your choosing before a visitor sees your website. The name was well picked!

The great thing about Sumo is that it’s free. You can install it on your site easily too. Sumo’s focus is to help your website gain more email subscribers – my current focus. If that’s what you want to do too, go ahead and instill it!

Momently

Momently is an analytics tool aimed at publishers. It’s meant to help you understand how your visitors and readers engage with your content. Then, you use that information to further grow your audience.

I chose not to try Momently. I currently don’t have enough content on my site that it will be insightful enough for me. Or so I think. And, in all honesty, I don’t see how it’s different than Google Analytics in what I need.

Screenshot of Momently's website

Mind you, as of this publishing, I have less than 20 pages of content on my website. I’m definitely not a target user of Momently. But, if you do have a content heavy website like a blog, it might be a great tool for you! They have a free plan with 3 reports per month. Their reports look like they’d be full of information. On their website, they even say your data is turned into an actionable report – sounds intreating! The Momently app looks like it goes into great detail about readership and engagement which could be invaluable.

Hotjar

Starting with Hotjar, I’m about to bring up many “all-in-one” type of tools. Hotjar seems like a dream. Their features are fantastic and informative. First of all, you can do all sorts of heat maps to figure out where people are looking, clicking and even where they are moving their mice around. They provide recordings of how people behave on your website too. With this information, you can easily improve your individual pages to see how well they are received by your visitors.

Screenshot of Hotjar's website

Next, they have analytics for forms and funnels or flows. This kind of information will give you insight on how people are moving around on your website as a whole. It will tell you which pages do better or which ones do worse. It will give you a clear insight into missed opportunities in a customer’s journey or funnel areas to fix.

Lastly, and this is awesome, Hotjar has polls and surveys you can place on any page. You can ask your visitors their impressions of your page sections, headlines, images, designs, messages, and what have you.

As UX Designers, much of our decision-making has been based on empirical data derived via qualitative research. This data helps us make informed decisions which are free from bias. The way users interact with our products can increase or reduce our ROI- the business bottom line, so instead of focusing our time and resources on what we think will work, we can remove these guessworks by getting to know exactly how users interact with our website.

Akindunjoye Oluwatobi, You’re not the user: 5 things I learned from using Hotjar for a year

One thing that stood out to me in Hotjar – which isn’t always obvious with many tools – is they indicate that you can block specifics IPs so you don’t track yourself or our teammates. That makes data a lot significantly clearer.

I installed Hotjar on this website too!

Kissmetricks

Kissmetricks is another one of those super heavy tools like Hotjar. However, Kissmetricks is a very well know company in the tech world for being an overall great company. Their blog is just beyond useful; I included one of their posts on Google Analytics in the beginning on the article. The whole mission behind Kissmetricks is based on turning insights into sales. Fantastic start; let’s dive a little deeper of what this analytics tool can do for you.

Kissmetricks seems to have three specific areas of focus including insights, populations, and campaigns. They also focus on highly targeted email and Facebook campaigns. If you run many email or Facebook campaigns, Kissmetricks might be the perfect tool for you.

Screenshot of Kissmetric's website

The app allows you to dive deeply into understanding how your customers are behaving. It lets you automatically trigger behavior-based campaigns which sounds like a Godsend. Additionally, you can also study different kinds of target audiences to see how you can serve them better.

I chose not to go with Kissmetricks for my own website because it seemed too data-heavy for me. It’s an intense tool and I don’t need anything like that just yet.

Mixpanel

I’ve head many good things about Mixpanel over the years. A few companies I previously worked with used it. Currently, Mixpanel positions itself as a tool that’s fantastic for people looking to keep track of the whole journey a user takes. They help you gather data to improve your acquisition, engagement and retention rates.

Mixpanel can handle serious AB testing. Check it out if you’re interested in perfecting your funnel, your designs, your message, or whatever. They also have features that help you understand your current returning/loyal customers so that you can gain more of them and improve your retention rates.

...I got started on Mixpanel first, and they deliver the kind of value that I can work comfortably with. Everything is easy to set up, and their customer support team has been very understanding, even when it came down to being charged big money for an implementation mistake.

Geoff Daigle, 5 Mixpanel pro tips that will make you look like a data scientist

Their messaging feature looks very powerful too. It helps you re-engage people based on their behavior. It must take into consideration the customer journey and good UX which is how they know exactly when to get them to convert. Pretty wicked! I love it!

Screenshot of Mixpanel's website

All in all, Mixpanel is no joke. It’s a truly powerful platform that gathers all sorts of data to help you better understand both, your visitors and your users. With all that knowledge you’re bound to improve your product, services, funnels or campaigns.

Personally, I passed on Mixpanel as it’s, again, a little too much for me. Right now, it’s not worth it for me becuase I am not running any serious campaigns which means I get very little traffic to my website (as evident by my Google Analytics screenshot above). When I previously used Mixpanel I had a pleasant experience. I’m sure it’s a lot more powerful and insightful now then it was a few years back. Give it a try for yourself, I’m sure you won’t regret it.

Some additional alternative

Consider a few additional options:

  • Heap
    • They are all about easily tracking everything through automation.
  • Moz Pro
    • This is a great analytics tool for blogs and content creators who want to understand their SEO traffic better.
  • Orbi
    • This is a straightforward dashboard to better understand your data, funnels, and campaigns.

The takeaway

By now, you should clearly see and understand why using these analytics tools is important to online businesses. If you’re not looking at your analytics you’re flying blind. And, that’s just silly because you’re running a business.

Look into a few of these tools. Just about all of them have a free plan; they are all fairly simple to install too. Try one for a month that best fits your specific business needs. See what happens to your visitors, see how they interact with your content (or not).

Next week, I’m going to discuss what specific KPIs or metrics you should look out for that these analytics tools can help you look after.