How to use website analytics for growthClaire Emerson · Mar 8, 2022
Website analytics can be easy to overlook when you’re heads-down building your business.
Competing priorities and being time-poor make it difficult to prioritize this less sexy side of startup life.
But making significant decisions based on opinions and assumptions is dangerous territory — whereas data tells no lies.
And rather than mistakenly crafting content, mapping user journeys, and outlining onsite optimizations while ignoring what’s actually going on your site — it’s far more lucrative to use your analytics (which are collecting useful information automatically in the background) to make better, more informed decisions.
So on that note, here are 21 ways you can use your website analytics to drive better results for your business.
1. Create a regular check-in ritual
The first step (and yes, it’s super simple) is to lock in a regular time to review your data.
Remember, what gets scheduled gets done!
Depending on your business needs, you can:
- Include a brief traffic update in your daily stand-ups;
- Opt for a weekly review to monitor campaign performance; or
- Schedule a monthly deep dive to dig into the data and plan future content.
To make this even easier — you can set up your Fathom account to send weekly or monthly email reports which show you:
- Unique visitors
- Content views
- Average time on site
- Goal completions
- Total Revenue
Of course, using the data is where the real magic happens, so keep reading to find out what you can do with all your intel.
2. Map out steps in your customer journey
A customer journey map is a visual representation of a customer or prospect's process to achieve a goal with your company. The goal may be to make a purchase, sign up for a newsletter, join a loyalty program, or anything in between. With a customer journey map, you’ll understand what motivates your customers to achieve their goals. — Hubspot
While your web analytics won’t provide the whole picture for creating a customer journey map, they can indicate your visitors' key behaviours and actions towards achieving the business goals you’ve set.
You can review the significant touchpoints on your site to help you populate crucial pieces in your customer journey by using goals or events. Which will help you document a more accurate map of what it takes for a new visitor to become a new buyer.
3. Dig into traffic spikes and look for trends
With the help of Fathom’s weekly or monthly email reports, you can quickly and easily see trends in traffic to your site (both up and down).
Some core areas to pay attention to are huge variations in time on page or bounce rates which could indicate a problem (we’ll get into both in more detail later).
You can, of course, expand that monthly or weekly view (within your dashboard) to see how content trends throughout the year. This is a good practice for using year-round data to shape actionable business advice for the following year.
4. Identify high-bounce rate pages (and fix them!)
If you find your bounce rates are stupidly high or notice a massive spike after some site changes — it’s time to do some troubleshooting.
Here are three major problems that can lead to a high bounce rate:
i. The usefulness, readability, and relevance of your content is poor
Creating great content is not just about the words on the page. It’s about how easy it is for your visitors to consume what you’ve made and how relevant it is to the problem they’re trying to solve.
- Great big walls of text are intimidating and tend to scare people off. So formatting your posts to include headings, subheads, pull quotes, images, and bullet points is good practice: the more white space, the better.
- Ads, widgets, and promotions can be off-putting and drive down the page's value — so limit these attention-grabbing distractions.
- Keyword stuffed content (created solely for ranking purposes) is a terrible strategy and insanely annoying to your audience. If you are creating SEO content, ensure that what you produce on-page is relevant to the search query and considers the user’s intent.
ii. There is no explicit next action for the user to take
A high bounce rate can also represent an opportunity to promote a more clear call to action for the page. If you find that time on the page is high, but so is your bounce rate — it’s likely your site visitor has no clue what step to take next.
At this point, you can consider adding a content upgrade or relevant opt-in to capture their email address. So you can continue to serve them content they’ll enjoy — rather than have them leave your site, satisfied, but without any expectation of returning.
iii. The loading time for your content sucks
Slow loading pages are a drag (don’t worry, we’ll get into how to improve your page load times next.) But if a user can’t access the page in the time they deem acceptable, it doesn't matter how good or bad your content is. They’re unlikely to wait around.
5. Decrease your page load times
If you have high bounce rates and low time on-page, it could be that your content isn’t loading fast enough for your users to stick around.
So even if you have excellent content, it never gets its time to shine.
But you can do many different things to speed up those load times. Here are some options to consider:
- Invest in your infrastructure — be sure that your web stack is built for speed. Shared servers can slow you down, whereas dedicated hosting, and the performance boost that managed hosting provides, are both built for growth.
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) — CDNs boost the speed of websites by caching content in multiple locations around the world. And can result in a massive decrease in page load times.
- Optimize images for faster page load time — Large images take a lot of processing power. But you can use a tool like TinyPNG to compress your images without losing quality.
- Avoid URL redirects — redirection increases the time it takes for your site to render, so it makes sense to minimize its use if you’re optimizing for page performance.
6. Make high-traffic mobile pages more responsive
With a few quick clicks, you can easily see what device type your visitors are using from your Fathom dashboard and for what pages.
And while I think it’s good practice to make sure your whole site is mobile friendly — you can make sure that the pages that get visited the most via mobile are made to function for that format.
Here are some ways to make pages more mobile-friendly:
- Choose a mobile-responsive theme or template
- Make images and CSS as light as possible
- Change button size and placement
- Use a large and readable font
- Space out your links
- Eliminate pop-ups
- Test regularly
Most importantly, when you’re creating for mobile — make sure you look at the mobile preview. Play around, scroll through all the content, take the actions you’ve set up. Create a seamless experience by testing your tech from your user’s perspective.
7. Leverage UTM tracking
ICYDK: A UTM parameter is the text included in the URL to better understand where the traffic is coming from and, therefore, which content you’re sharing is the most relevant or best at converting to sales or leads.
And as Paul notes in this article, there are four key reasons to use UTM parameters when linking to your website from other places on the internet:
- Track the value of social media campaigns and measure return on investment (to see how well each campaign converts into signups, trials, or actual sales).
- Gain precise data about traffic sources (i.e., on platforms that scrub the specific referring URL, you can use UTMs to measure links you post).
- Test out posting links head-to-head to determine which content worked best to get a click (as in, you post two different tweets with the same URL - if you use a different UTM for each, you can see which wording led to the most clicks).
- UTMs don’t (typically) include anything that violates privacy (i.e., Personal Data from a user). They relate more to aggregated data from campaigns. So if someone clicks a link with a UTM, it won’t expose their entire browsing history or anything like that. While it might sound technical — it’s super easy to add UTM tracking into your marketing mix, especially with Fathoms UTM Builder.
Better yet, Fathom lets you easily view and then filter by UTM parameters. So you can see all the UTM’s you’ve used for your campaigns right on your site’s dashboard, and then filter each one (or multiple UTMs at the same time) to further drill into your data and see your campaigns progress.
8. Examine the entry pages that are bringing people in
Do you know what the most important page on your website is?
Hint: it’s not necessarily your homepage, especially if you use content to drive traffic.
Thankfully, analytics makes it exceptionally easy to determine the top entry points for your website. And with Fathom, you can view your most popular content at a glance from your dashboard.
Of course, only looking at landing and entrance pages doesn’t paint the whole picture. So you’ll want to cross-reference these pages with your other data points to gain a better understanding of what visitors are doing when they land on your site.
Make sure you’re also looking at:
- Time spent on pages: Once users get to your popular pages, how much time are they spending there? This will help you to determine the success of each page.
- Bounce rate: Are users coming to a landing page and immediately leaving your website? If so, this page will likely benefit from optimization.
- Referral sources: Where are your users coming from? Determining this helps you add context to your data and develop a better understanding of how users find your content.
With Fathom, you can easily filter your dashboard by individual pages, and drill into each of the three metrics above. This is awesome because the whole dash updates to reflect the time, bounce rate, and referral sources for only that page. Giving you a granular look into its performance.
9. Set goals and events to monitor the most important actions for your site
An event is anything you want to track that isn’t just a standard page view, like a button click on a form or a success page after purchase.
Events are an excellent way to pull a specific action out of the “Top Content” on your dashboard so you can easily track performance. You can also add a monetary value to them.
Here are some ideas for user-generated events to set up:
- Viewed your demo
- Watched your explainer video
- Joined your newsletter
- Signed up for a new account
- Downloaded your lead-magnet
- Purchased a product
- Filled out a contact form
- Answered an onsite quiz or survey
Here’s how to set up events and event tracking in Fathom.
10. Track and monitor the performance of your campaigns
We mentioned earlier how you can use UTM parameters to help you track where your traffic is coming from. And monitoring the impact of your distribution channels is a great place to start.
Use your analytics tools to gauge the performance of your:
- Social media profiles: Track your Tweets, links in Instagram Stories, and Facebook posts to understand what your audience is most interested in.
- Blog post distribution: If you’re dropping links in communities or on relevant discussions in LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook groups, you can see what resonates the most, and what formats work best for each platform.
- Guest posts: If you’ve got a CTA in your author bio/byline, add in some UTM parameters so you can track that traffic and discover which sites are worth pitching again.
- Reddit entries: Determine which links came from which entries and contributions. Spend more time in the channels that send the most valuable traffic.
- Youtube videos: If you’ve got CTA’s pushing viewers to your site, add UTM tracking to know which videos are sending the most people.
- Newsletter promo’s and sponsorships: If you’re featured in other people's newsletters or sales emails, identify that direct traffic with some UTM parameters. Links from emails get dumped into the one bucket if you don’t if attribute them correctly.
You want to answer the critical question: What campaigns or platforms have the most impact? So you can double down on your most valuable distribution channels.
But remember, pay attention to time-on-page and bounce rates of the traffic that gets sent your way. If Reddit sends you a ton of traffic, but none of that traffic sticks around or sets off an event — it could be a waste of resources to keep plugging that channel.
11. Find articles to turn into talks or other revenue-generating opportunities
Creating high-value and relevant content is an excellent marketing strategy.
But what should you do when you find pages and posts that are incredibly popular?
Well, given that your users find what you’ve created super-interesting — you can use that piece as a jumping-off point to create new potential revenue opportunities.
You can consider:
- Pitching it as a keynote for a relevant conference or as a conversation on a well-known podcast
- Turning it into a free lead magnet or downloadable that leads to a targeted email campaign
- Expanding on it and creating a paid info-product for the “ready to implement” crowd
12. Get notified when your website is down
A year or two ago, I got a message from my friend Tim, letting me know my Squarespace site was down. He’d clicked through to an article I’d written and received the dreaded error page.
Little did I know that my credit card had expired, and all the warning emails were getting filed automatically into a folder I didn’t look at.
Cue panic attack!
Thankfully, it didn’t take long to fix. But it’s not something I want to repeat. And with Fathom’s uptime monitoring feature, I get notified automatically if my site is down (and notably, I make sure these emails come straight to my primary inbox 😅.)
13. Check referrals for new and existing projects
After speaking to Paul about how they use Fathom (to grow Fathom!), he mentioned something great they do with their referrals:
If a site is sending us a lot of referrals, we tend to thank them (via email or social) and let them know about our affiliate account if they aren’t already an affiliate. We also look at who is referring traffic to us outside of search and social to see if we can get similar links.
Referrals are excellent indicators of potential partners and collaborators. And given they’re already sending traffic your way, it’s not hard to start the conversation and continue to build the relationship.
14. Use last month's insights to plan out next month's content
If you’re opting for a monthly deep dive to look at your website data, a great way to action it immediately is to use the insights to plan out your following few pieces of content.
You can usually riff off something you’ve already written for any new piece of content — either by going wide (like a cornerstone piece for the topic) or going deep (by finding a fascinating point you can expand on).
Creating content based on what you’re audience is already consuming is not only helpful for your content ideation process, but you can also build up the “link juice” on your site, which is great for SEO.
15. Look at weekly stats on content and brainstorm ideas for distribution
If you prefer checking your stats weekly — it’s still important to use your insights to inform your next actions.
If you had a viral article, double down on it for the next week with distribution! This way, you don’t need to create anything new. You’re simply distributing what’s already performed well, so it can continue to gain traction.
A few distribution ideas: repurpose a popular post as a Twitter thread, post it up onto a Reddit channel or seek out Quora questions you can answer. You can even make some Instagram-friendly pull quotes or create audio snippets to share for those who prefer to listen in.
Distribute. Distribute. Distribute.
16. Monitor launch success and adapt your approach based on any new or unexpected behaviors
I don’t know about you, but I check my web stats way more than usual when I'm in launch mode.
And while sometimes it’s just for the dopamine hit, you can still use what you learn to adapt your sales efforts on the fly.
If you notice a lot of clicks through to your sales page but not many conversions, you can set up a split test and change something significant like the headline or structure of the offer to see if one page performs better than the other.
Another option is to test written vs. video content at the top of the page to see what keeps people engaged. You can even try a button that pulls people directly to the price (rather than scrolling through to the offer — see an example.)
17. Increase time spent on page with data, visuals, interactive elements, and videos
Core pages on your site (think: anything in your top nav) get a lot of traffic.
So if you’re noticing low time-on-page and higher bounce rates — outside of crafting better copy — you can consider adding visuals, interactive elements, and videos to keep people around. Bear in mind, these extras need to be relevant to the material and ideally won’t slow download times too much!
A few options:
- Custom illustrations
- Gifs that add some humour or additional context
- Quizzes and widgets that allow for on-page personalization
- Explainer videos or YouTubes clips you’ve recorded previously
18. Repurpose content that was popular on other channels
You can leverage other platform analytics to determine what might bring in similar traffic to your site.
For instance, a YouTube video that did exceptionally well — can turn into a summary script on your site. Or you can transcribe a popular podcast episode into some excellent show notes.
A high-performing Twitter thread might be worth expanding into a complete article. And you can do the same with your most popular emails — which you can repurpose as blog posts or even sales/landing pages.
20. Share your dashboard with collaborators
Getting expert help to make your site exceptional and work better for your business is a no-brainer. And thankfully, Fathom makes it super simple to share your analytics dashboard with your collaborators.
Whether you want to give access to your writers, SEO expert, or your clients — you can have three options for configuring your sharing settings in Fathom:
- Viewable by you. This is the default settings (i.e., what your dashboard is set to unless you specifically change this setting.) This means only you, the account owner with Fathom, can view this dashboard.
- Viewable by anyone with a shared password. This means anyone with your share URL and the password you set can view this dashboard. You can change or cycle this password at any time to revoke access to anyone who's previously had access. Viewers who use that password cannot change any settings, add events, or do anything in your Fathom account. It's a view-only function.
- Viewable by everyone. This means your dashboard is public on the internet for whoever has the share URL. This is useful if you want public stats (like our demo).
21. No traffic? No worries
Sometimes the most valuable thing your analytics can show you is that you’re not getting much traffic at all.
And while it might make you want to weep, it simply means it’s time to turn up your marketing and promotion efforts.
Five traffic sources you should consider (be sure to focus on the one that suits you, your budget, and your needs):
- Search Engines: Once you rank for a keyword, you can get long-term traffic with little additional effort. But be warned, writing worthy content is hard and takes effort (or money to hire great writers). And you still have to promote and distribute it, so it gets noticed.
- Social Media: This can generate quick traffic, and you have the potential to go viral. It’s also low cost (relatively speaking). But this traffic can be short-lived and less valuable than other sources like email or SEO.
- Referrals: The right link can send you traffic for years with little effort on your part. They’re also a significant factor in search engine ranking. Referrals from direct marketing channels like email are also incredibly valuable. But of course, the volume of traffic and value of referrals depends on the referrer, so building the right relationships is vital.
- Communities: Tapping into your networks and cliques that love to learn about the topics your site covers is super low cost and can overflow to other channels like social media. But success is dependent on your niche, and it can be hard to know what will resonate. You need a deep understanding of what content they love.
- Advertising: Probably the only real traffic shortcut there is. You pay to play, but the traffic is highly targeted and tends to convert well (if you get the ad and the offer right!) It’s also relatively easy to scale. But don’t be fooled — it takes upfront effort to make it an effective channel for your growth.
How do the numbers look?
Checking your stats (even once a month) can help shape your next steps and determine the moves that will have the most significant impact on your marketing campaigns, which in turn will drive better results for your company.
Start by asking yourself some questions about your traffic data to create some concrete goals to work towards that will help you focus your efforts:
- How much do you want to see traffic grow each month?
- What will you do to make that happen?
- How much do you want time on-page to increase?
- What will you do to capture the traffic that sticks around?
- Which pages, in particular, are you sending the most traffic to?
- Where is the majority of the traffic coming from?
Use your insights to understand how people are using your site, so you can figure out what’s popular, what’s getting you closer to your goals, and how you can replicate successful elements for the rest of your site.
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Claire Emerson is a writer
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