How to Read Web Traffic Reports

After going through a series of trainings on how to read web analytic reports, and how to create Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your website, I’ve been struggling with how to explain the whole issue in an easy to understand way.

I found the perfect article, so my thanks to Jason Burby from The ClickZ Network who wrote this great article, Web Analytics 101: The Holiday Invite Lesson.

I am liberally copying his article here (with a few modifications, but these are not my unique thoughts) but feel free to visit the ClickZ Network for future articles about the subject.

So here’s his article:

Hang on to your calendars, the holiday party season has arrived. There’s your work party, your spouse’s work party, family gatherings (how many sides?), and the fun ones with friends. How many invitations did you receive on paper this year? My official count is zero (so far). Most have come by word of mouth or email — and a few of those through Evite. If you’ve ever used Evite, you’ve probably used Web analytics data without even realizing it.

Evite is an online service that allows you to invite people to an event and track their responses. When you receive the Evite invitation, you can easily add it to your Outlook calendar and request a reminder. For those of you new to Web analytics, here is a great example of how to use Web analytics data to make decisions.

Track Your Invite’s Success

I am planning a party and use Evite to send out invitations. After sending out an Evite, I can log in and see who has viewed the message and who hasn’t. I can see how many people have responded with a yes, no, or maybe. Say it’s been a week since I sent out the invite, and I notice my friend Shane hasn’t viewed the invitation. I can call Shane to make sure he knows about the party.

There you go, I’ve just used Web analytics data! I analyzed the responses to my Evite and found someone had not received it, so I picked up the phone and called him. By calling Shane, I just increased my holiday party conversion rate. This is a very simple example of using analytics to make decisions.

You can also set up the invitation to put the analytics information to work for you. When you set up the invite, ask Evite to send a reminder or follow-up email to those who haven’t responded by a certain number of days before the event. Now you have set the system up to take action based on recipients’ behaviors.

Bring It to Non-Profit

Now, take this same approach to your Web site by focusing on key site goals. Start small if you want. Take one of the key conversions on your site, such as (the sign up mechanism on your volunteer opportunity).

Look at how people are getting (or not getting) to your volunteer opportunity and signing up. Then ask questions such as:

  • What content or pages drive visitors to the opportunity?
  • What site pages or content could be optimized to help drive more interested volunteers?
  • What percentage of visitors move through the process to sign up for a volunteer opportunity?

Now that you understand this one process, look for additional opportunities to improve. Don’t look to solve all the site problems at once; just try increase this one conversion rate. Then you can look at additional factors, such as:

  • Do you need to get more people to your volunteer opportunities?
  • Can you improve your calls to action?
  • Do you need to increase the calls to action throughout the site to drive more people to your volunteer opportunities?
  • How can you convince (convert) people to sign up to volunteer once they arrive on the volunteer opportunity?
  • Do you have more than one problem?

Using Web analytics data to make decisions and take action doesn’t need to be hard. As you respond to those Evite invitations this year, just remember you’re probably already doing it.


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