All the numbers and charts from your analytics package are the equivalent of watching customers walk into a retail store, browse around and hopefully buy something. While many business owners who are new to analytics focus heavily on the number of people coming in the door (site visits), not as many focus on what they do when they get in the door.
To stretch this metaphor a bit more, retail stores often have someone on staff that is tasked specifically with setting up the store so that people can find things they are looking for, discover things they weren’t looking for but might like and conduct a transaction. These staff members watch the store in person or via video to understand traffic patterns.
For your site, your web analytics is what you have to observe traffic. And making changes to the structure of your site (either by rearranging, adding or removing content) can improve the entire user experience.
An article from the Wall Street Journal published last month describes how several online retailers are using this customer experience data to improve their sales. Sometimes making small discoveries (like using the number zero in a coupon code can cause user failure because they don’t know if it’s the letter O or a zero) that have dramatic impact.
According to the article “trade group Shop.org and Forrester found that online retailers are allocating 21% of their total 2008 marketing budgets to online customer retention.” Another great data point from the study: “32% of Web shoppers have been online for seven years.” These folks have high expectations.
So dig a little deeper, get beyond the total number of visits coming to your site and start asking questions about what they do when they get there. Put that information in context, make a decision about how you can improve life for your online customer based on that information and move forward.