Knowledge base article

What is Web Analytics? A Beginners Guide

6 minutes reading time

You might have heard terms like bounce rate, conversion rate, or unique monthly users before. They have one thing in common, they are metrics used in web analytics. In this article, we will look at what web analytics is, which types there are, why it matters, and which tools you can use. So what is web analytics exactly?

What is web analytics?

Web analytics is the process of analyzing and reporting on data collected from a website. It can help website owners make data-informed decisions about optimizing their sites and improving the user experience. It is an important tool for any business or organization with a website.

Web analytics means tracking website actions like the number of visitors to a site, the pages they visit, how long they stay on each page, and other metrics. Besides tracking other steps have to be taken to perform proper web analytics.

What is the process of web analytics?

The process of web analytics consists of more than collecting data and reporting on it. The following steps are usually part of the process.

1. Define your website’s goals

Businesses must first determine their goals and the end results they want to achieve before starting the web analytics process. Objectives can include increasing sales, improving customer satisfaction, and promoting brand awareness. It is possible to set quantitative as well as qualitative business goals.

2. Define Key Performance Indicators

Based on the business objectives you can then define key performance indicators in for example a KPI tree. What do you want your website users to do to reach your goals? These metrics help you to measure what matters in a quantifiable way.

3. Collect data

Once you know what to measure you can start to collect data. This is done by means of web analytics tools such as the ones listed on New Metrics. These tools collect this data through a Javascript snippet placed on your website or information extracted for the IP address.

4. Process & report on data

Process the data you have collected to translate it into actionable insights. Give context to the KPIs that you have formulated in the second stage. Create meaningful dashboards to base your reporting on and to form ideas for further development.

5. Define an online strategy

Based on the insights collected in the previous stages you can form strategies that further your business toward its goals. For example, your engagement rates can tell you about your users’ interest in your content and where to optimize it. You can form hypotheses about your website that you can test in the following stage.

6. Experiment

To improve the experience of their users, you can experiment with different strategies. For example, they form hypotheses about certain content and test two different versions of it with an A/B test. This process provides a data-informed way of providing the user with the best experience possible.

Why does web analytics matter?

Your website is where you sell your products, promote your blog or generate leads for your services. The data that you collect on your website will tell you a lot about your users and how they interact with your content. So, this is the best place to learn how to improve your offering. So why does web analytics matter?

To learn more about your visitors

Analytics tools provide valuable information about your site visitors, such as how long they spend on a page and which pages they visit. Using this information, you can determine what content on your website and product is most popular with users and potential customers.

To measure events on your website

It allows you to measure events that your users complete on your website, also called conversions. Web analytics can give you information about these conversions, when they were performed, by who, how often, and what stopped them from converting. The conversion path shows how your users moved through your site before making a purchase.

To understand and improve marketing efforts

With web analytics, you will know which channels generate the most traffic for your website. You can compare behavior on-site from different channels or different advertisements to figure out which ones attract the most interested customers.

Understand the performance of your content

You can also use web analytics tools to learn which content is performing well on your site, so you can focus on those types of content and make improvements to the product. Besides that, the popular content on your site could give you ideas for new product features to test.

Web analytics categories

The two main categories of web analytics are off-site web analytics and on-site web analytics.

Off-site web analytics

The term off-site web analytics refers to the process of analyzing visitor activity outside a company’s website so that a company can measure its potential audience. By analyzing off-site web traffic, an organization can gain insight into how its competitors are performing in comparison to itself. Data collected from social media and search engines are the basis for this type of analytics.

On-site web analytics

The term on-site web analytics refers to the measurement of traffic arriving at your site. Interactions with your website or product can be measured to understand your visitors better. Examples of measurements include filling out a form or completing a purchase.

While there are several ways to measure visitors to your site, most vendors use what is known as page tagging. To do this, you place a small snippet of JavaScript code on your web pages, which acts as a beacon. It captures visitor information, stores it as cookies, and transmits it live to the data collection servers.

Which web analytics tools are there?

There are many different tools to help you with collecting, processing, and reporting on the data which you generate with your website. We at New Metrics are specialized in on-site analytics. These on-site analytics tools fall generally into four different categories.

Marketing Analytics

Marketing analytics is the process companies use to capture and analyze customer data to make better marketing decisions. Marketing analytics tools give insights into where your users came from and how they interact with your website or app. These insights power businesses’ sales, marketing, and development efforts and studies show that companies that use customer analytics are more profitable.

User Experience Analytics

User Experience (UX) analytics is the measurement and analysis of user activity on a website or application to provide insight into how its design can be adapted to meet the current or changing needs of end users. Measurement can be quantitative and/or qualitative.

User Experience Analytics allows you to analyze, test, and optimize your website content. This can include features like A/B testing, multivariate testing, feature toggle, and content personalization which enables you to personalize content for specific users.

Product Analytics

Product analytics is the process of analyzing how users engage with an online product or service. It allows product teams to track, visualize, and analyze their users’ engagement and behavior data. You can use the insights to focus on the strengths and weaknesses of your product. It is a great tool to optimize your product or service to increase your retention rates.

B2B Lead Analytics

B2B lead analytics tools show you what organizations browse your website. The tools link their IP to a database and reveal detailed information about the organization and where they came from. It allows you to grow your sales funnel and improve lead quality.

The takeaway

So, now you have an understanding of what website analytics entails. To recap; using web analytics, you can gather data from your website, analyze it, and create a strategy for improving the efficiency of your website. It can help you understand visitors, optimize marketing campaigns, improve user experience, boost online sales, and much more.

There are some issues with web analytics, such as keeping track of so many metrics, data that is not always accurate, and data privacy concerns. Be sure to choose a web analytics tool that meets your requirements and that can address these issues.

Profielfoto Freek Kampen

By Freek Kampen

Data & Analytics specialist and co-owner of New North Digital. With a background in online advertising, I solve tracking and data issues for entrepreneurs and agencies.

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