Who’s coming to your website? Are you drawing the audience you want? How can you use analytics to understand your visitors, target the right audience for your offerings, and grow your business?
We all want to bring traffic to our websites and customers to our businesses. But many small business owners focus on getting large numbers of visitors when the real focus should be on getting the right visitors — visitors with the potential to become customers.
If you’ve already established a website and are collecting analytics data, you can conduct an analysis to better understand your audience and make sure it’s a match to your offerings. Let’s look at what analytics reveals about your audience, how you can use this information, and some traps you should avoid.
Key Data Points About Your Audience
Let’s look at a few key data points you can learn about your audience from visitor analytics:
- Age and gender: If you sell products or services that cater to a particular age group or gender, this valuable information could guide how you target your marketing efforts in the future.
- Location and language: If your business primarily operates in a geographic location (as opposed to nationally, internationally, or online), then this information could be crucial to evaluating your online marketing efforts — if you’re drawing too many website visitors outside your region, you could be wasting valuable resources.
- Technology (browser and OS): Are visitors using Mac? Windows? How old is their device or software? Are they viewing on a desktop computer or mobile device? This can provide insight into how technologically savvy they are or even hint at their income level, and it can determine how much you invest in ensuring your website is mobile-friendly.
- Previous website: What website were they visiting before they came to your website (if any)? This could indicate your visitors’ other interests or reveal which other websites are sending traffic (and prospective customers) your way via hyperlinks.
- Keywords: Which search terms brought visitors to your website? If people are searching online and finding your website, an analysis is order. Were they looking for your products and services, or did they land on your site through an arbitrary search phrase? Can you leverage that traffic and convert them to customers?
- Bounce rate: how long are people staying on your website? Are they landing and then clicking away immediately, or are they sticking around and exploring?
How to Use This Information
Let’s say you’re an author and you write young-adult fiction, but it looks like most of the visitors to your author website are over the age of forty. After doing a little digging, your analytics reveals that a large portion of this audience is coming to an article on your website about how you read a lot of Judy Blume books when you were growing up.
You might also find that the portion of visitors who are in your target age range (14 to 18 years old) are accessing your website via mobile phones, but when you check your site on your own phone, you find that it’s clunky, confusing, and difficult to navigate. This could explain why so many of these visitors don’t stay on your website very long (high bounce rate, averaging under twenty seconds).
Now you can use what you’ve learned to make some decisions and changes. You contemplate removing the Judy Blume article, but then you realize that these visitors might have kids who would be interested in your books. Instead of pulling the article, you add a graphic that promotes your book as a gift for the kids in someone’s life, and you offer a coupon code. Then you reach out to your website designer to start a project to improve your website’s mobile presentation.
Most importantly, you want to increase your traffic from your target demographic, so you launch an ad campaign targeting readers in your demographic age range.
In the coming weeks and months, you can revisit your analytics and see how your efforts paid off. How many clicks did the gift promotion get? Are the mobile visitors sticking around longer? Are you getting more visitors in your target age range, and are they coming from the ads you ran?
Put Analytics to Work for Your Business
Your target audience is made up of the people you want to reach — you have an offering you want to share with them, and you hope to convert them into customers or clients. Hopefully a large percentage of your website visitors are also members of your target audience, but just because someone visits your website doesn’t mean they are a good match to your offerings. That’s why it’s important to do a little digging and analyze the data carefully to understand the audience you’ve got and determine whether it’s the audience you want.
Every website and business will use analytics in different ways. Always start with your business goals and work through your analytics from there. Don’t spend too much time evaluating the data that doesn’t impact the results you want, but leverage the information that affects real outcomes and use it to make improvements to your website and related marketing efforts.
Melissa Donovan is a website consultant and copywriter. She is also the founder and editor of Writing Forward and the author of over seven books.