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Now that you know you need to set up analytics for your ecommerce shop, you’re probably staring at a screen full of numbers and graphs without actually knowing what any of them mean for your business. Don’t worry—we’re here to demystify it, with three things you can learn about your customers from your e-commerce analytics:
How many potential customers you have visiting your site
When you look at your analytics, one of the most prominent numbers is your page views (and users). Depending on your analytics tool, this could be called “hits” and “visitors,” or “page views” and “unique visits.” One of these numbers (visitors, users, or unique visits) is going to be lower than the other (hits or page views). That lower number represents a unique visitor, and the higher number counts how many pages have been viewed by all visitors. For example, if I go to your site I’m one user, but I might view five pages on your site before leaving it, as I browse the catalog and product pages. That’d show up as one user and five page views for that time period.
When people are trying to improve their analytics, they almost always start here. And it’s a good place to start—people can’t buy from your store if they aren’t finding and using your store. However, you need to look at more than just the numbers. You should be comparing your page views to your users to see how many pages your visitors are looking at before they leave your site. If you have 200 users but 600 visits in a month, that means that each user looked at three pages before they left the site. People who wind up buying from you usually tend to stick around and browse through your shop, so the higher that number of average page views is, the better.
Comparing these two numbers gives you an idea of what kind of people you’re reaching and if they really are your potential customer. If the numbers are almost the same, then that means that people are essentially landing on one page and then clicking off again—which means that you aren’t reaching people who are interested in your products and that you need to revisit your marketing strategy.
Another metric to consider when you’re looking at these numbers is your bounce rate. This is the percentage of people who leave your site after one pageview. In other words, they click onto your site, look at the page they landed on, and leave without clicking any other links or navigating around your site. In general, you want to keep it as low as possible. If it goes up, look at things like whether you redesigned your site recently, or your incoming traffic—for example, maybe someone linked to your shop and their audience was curious enough to click, but not actually a very good fit as far as interest in buying your products.
For more on Bounce Rate, check out our 4 tips to improve ecommerce bounce rate right now video
How many new visitors you’re getting each month
Another metric to look at to better understand your customers and how they’re using your website is new vs. recurring visitors. Most sites get more new visitors per month than recurring visitors. If you suddenly get an influx of new visitors, or the balance shifts from how it usually is (for three months, 75% of your traffic is new visitors, and then it drops to 50% or raises to 90%), there’s something to be learned about your customers here:
- If you suddenly get more new visitors than usual, you need to check out where your traffic is coming from (look at your “incoming traffic” panel) and find out what caused the surge of new visitors. Make sure to look at your income on months where you had more new visitors, and see if those new visitors actually turned into customers. If you haven’t started new efforts or changed your current efforts in bringing new people to your site, then you’ll want to look at what else you’ve changed and see if you changed something that may have lowered the number of recurring visitors.
- If your percentage of new visitors suddenly drops, then look at what you’re doing to bring new traffic to your site – either it stopped working, or (if you tried something new) it’s not very effective. However, depending on what you’re doing, it might be a good thing. For example, if you’ve just started a new blog for your business, then recurring visitors means that people are probably engaging with the content.
What’s bringing people to you—and making them leave
Now that’s useful information to have, right? You can find this out by checking out your “entry pages” and “exit pages.” They’re pretty much exactly what they sound like: an entry page is the page that someone comes to your site through. For example, if they click on a link through Pinterest and wind up on a specific product page, then that product page is the entry page. And the exit page is the page that the user leaves the page on—the last page they see.
Sometimes, there won’t be any easy to spot pattern of entry pages and exit pages, in which case there’s not much to learn from this information. But sometimes, there’s a very clear pattern, in which case you can learn quite a lot from it:
- If you have one very popular entry page, you want to optimize it for keeping people around. Make sure the navigation is very clear on it, have a few links to other products (without being overwhelming or making the page cluttered), and if you collect emails for your business newsletter, make sure there’s an email form on the page.
- If you have one or two very popular exit pages, you want to look at them and see why you’re losing people. It could be that visitors aren’t sure where to go next—there’s no clear navigation. Or it could be that they’re just not interested. Start experimenting with the layout on those popular exit pages and tracking the results. You can also sit down with a friend who’s never looked at your shop before, and watch them try to navigate that page. Sometimes you’ll be surprised what you find out, because we all tend to get “blind” when it comes to our own sites (since we visit them so much!).
Learning about your customers is vital to creating a website that sells – and analytics is one way to do that. The tips above are more than enough to get you started, but make sure to stick around for the rest of the series!
This is post two in the “Crash Course on Business Analytics for Ecommerce” series. Next time, we’ll be talking about what analytics can teach you about marketing more effectively. Stay tuned, and you can view the first post (about why exactly it is you need analytics anyhow) here.
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