There is no excuse not to maximize the value you get out of your web analytics. Still, most people barely scratch the surface of their web analytics tools. If you look at your own web analytics data you know how well you are doing right now. You have to compare these numbers to others taken over time to have a clear picture, and then you have to compare them to other sites in your category!
By enabling benchmarking in Google Analytics, you can see the metrics for competing sites. These benchmarks let you see areas of opportunity for you to beat out these competitors. Benchmarks are available for Visits, Bounce Rates, Page Views, Average Time on Site, Page Views Per Visit and Percent of New Visits. You can also choose the category of your web based business by drilling vertically: Computers & Electronics -> Internet Software -> Content Management.
Internal site search data is where you find out what your visitors REALLY want, based on the queries they type in the search engine. This can help you understand visitor intent and identify new opportunities to improve landing pages, cross-promote products, and adjust your marketing and advertising strategy.
Hiring a web analysts is fine, but they will tend to focus on referrers and campaigns – when they say ’search’ they mean paid search. Organic search analysis is usually passed over or shuffled off on a newbie, or given the bare minimum of attention. This is a mistake. Organic search is free, has great ROI over the long term, and can actually serve as the foundation of a great paid search strategy. Don’t forget landing pages – analyzing and optimizing these can make all the difference. Your first impression may always be your last, so make it count.
Analyzing things like straight ROI on ad campaigns is important. So is raw number of visitors, etc, but the more time you spend learning how to use your analytics tools, the more you will know about your site and the more targeted you can become when planning campaigns and marketing strategies.
If you notice one area of your site has a lower amount of return than another, some webmasters might scrap the whole section and try something else. With analytics, you can pinpoint where what money that does come in is trickling from, pare away the deadwood, and build around that live core for a well optimized traffic attracting site.
Don’t ignore analytics. They can be your very best friend.