If you spend money advertising but don’t have someone looking at your website analytics, you are not doing it right.

Yes, most companies you advertise with give you some type of data.

  • Television gives you ratings.
  • Billboards give you traffic counts.
  • Newspaper and print give you subscription totals.

How many of these actually give you information about what the customer did when they saw your ad? 

Your Website is as Important as Your Storefront

One of the biggest expenses for any business with a physical location is your building and real estate. The owner’s research to find the best possible location. You work with brand experts to make sure the signage is just right. The building needs to be equipped with the proper technology, workspaces, and equipment. This process takes months to years to perfect. Yet, the website (a major marketing tool) to attract the customers gets very little attention – in comparison.

I’m not trying to preach the importance of a good website (at least not here), but it always boggles my mind how the website is an afterthought and treated the same as a lamp in your lobby. It is not just another item you need to purchase to make your business ready. Your website IS another location for your business. 

Stores in Wheeling West Virginia on Centre Market

If your business has a receptionist to answer questions, your website should have live chat or a contact form. Are you handing out brochures? Make sure you have a quality about page on your website. If it’s important that the customers see your location, inside and out, make sure you have video and images on your website. If you treat your website as another location, you can potentially double, triple, quadruple (you get it) your audience.
Tracking your customers from start to finish with web analytics.

Counting Customers

Retail locations often have traffic counters. People that go in and out of the store get logged. Many other businesses track receipts or purchases. These are all very helpful in deciphering how many customers you worked with that day. They give you totals, but they fail to give you some of the more useful information – where did they come from and how did they hear about you.

The beauty of your online location is that web analytics can acquire some of this valuable information. A free service like Google Analytics will help you uncover exactly how they ended up on your site. You can also easily track what location they are visiting from. These metrics aren’t difficult to configure. In fact, these features are built-in as default and interpreted by even your least tech-savvy user. 

With a little configuration, you can create events, goals, and views that answer some of your most important questions.

  • What advertisement or media is actually bringing paying customers?
  • How many people are taking action when I offer a special discount?
  • Are people finding me when they type my industry and city into Google?

Take some of the guesswork out of your advertising and use analytics to help determine where your money goes.

Web Analytics and Automation

Looking at Google Analytics on a computer screen

Your website host might have their own version of web analytics installed and configured, but the industry leader is Google Analytics. It is free and is easily integrated into most website solutions. With a few Google searches and some help documents, you can get value from the information right away – even if you aren’t a web guru. 

More importantly, you don’t have to spend a ton of time analyzing your data once you gain access. With a little research or help from a professional, you can create dashboards to show your major goals and metrics. You can download the app on your phone and glance while on the go. You can also have these reports and dashboards email you automatically based on your selected frequency. 

As a business owner, you know what makes you money. Try and figure out what metric on your website correlates with your real-life goal and check on that metric. For me, I like to check how many users come to my website and what channel (direct, search, social) they are coming from. This helps me determine if my blogs are being found on search, my brand is being noticed from advertising, and if my social channels causing clicks.

Web Analytics Fix Your Advertising Guess Work

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

John Wanamaker (US successful businessman from 1838-1922)
Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.

This statement might have been true in his lifetime, but should be deemed fake news today. I’m not going to say that there aren’t holes in the advertising analytics world, but you should be able to track your success and return on nearly every dollar you spend. 

People will see your billboard (in Martins Ferry) and go directly into your retail location (in Steubenville). This could be difficult to track. But it wouldn’t hurt to track your website traffic from Martins Ferry from the start and end date for your billboard campaign. Did you see an increase? That billboard likely had something to do with it. 

If you think 50% of your advertising is wasted, you need to hire someone to look at your website analytics. If you have questions about your website and customer base, work with an expert and have them analyze your data to get you answers (or better estimations). This isn’t 1890 and you shouldn’t be spending money without having a solution to check if it worked.

Google Analytics on multiple devices - nerd

Having a web analytics tool installed on your website is as important as having a website. If having a website is like having a second physical location, let’s upgrade the equipment in your additional store.