Generating website interest is surely one of the most important tasks facing anyone with responsibility for the success of an organisation. To quote novelist Gertrude Stein, "Everybody gets so much information, all day long, that they lose their common sense". Yet when it comes to an organisation's website this isn't always the case. There is often very little information to be found - and even less common sense!

For example, your organisation may seem busy, with many new members, supporters, donations and shop orders, but where did they all come from? Who was responsible? Is the organisation just working as 'normal' or is the website actually generating new interest and/or income?

An increasingly common scenario

Consider this example... You pass a tardy looking shop with no signage and no obvious suggestion as to why you should go inside. The shop isn’t listed clearly on any maps or guides, so why would you go inside? And even if you did, what's to suggest that you'd find anything of interest? And, again, if you did, and the service was very slow, needless to say that you probably wouldn’t rate your overall experience as a positive one.

Yet day in, day out many organisations treat their website visitors exactly like this!

Imagine now that you are the shopkeeper of this same establishment. You recognise that things need to change, yet your task isn't helped by the fact that you've never kept any previous client purchase records and you've never asked your customers what they actually want. Furthermore, you don’t even know where they come from. All you have is uncertainty and the associated risks that come with making knee-jerk decisions.

Many organisations offer their website as their 'shop front'. Ask yourself - is your site truly welcoming? Does it open its doors wide and have clear signs for your members or supporters to follow? Does it clearly show the benefits of your membership or identify how your supporters can donate or help your charity? Is your site proactively driving in the kind of people that you want - i.e. your existing and potential members, supporters and customers? More importantly, how do you know?

Help is at hand

Google Analytics is one of many free tools that can be used to help answer these questions, providing actual facts and not just assumptions.

Imagine being able to replace those tired old statistics that have been cobbled together from a multitude of sources and routinely handed out at your monthly management meetings. Data such as the number of hits on your website, the volume of member or supporter packs sent out, and the total number of visitors you've had to your 'shop'. Typically, when offered, people rarely know what they mean or whether they can be trusted.

However, with a bit of time and thought you can easily replace these often meaningless statistics with ones that are holistically understandable, and based upon identifiable key performance indicators (KPIs). Only then can you begin making cohesive and meaningful decisions about your website, its content and its purpose. You'll be able to actually prove that your email marketing campaign worked - or not as the case may be. You'll be able show that the ad you ran in that trade magazine did or didn't work as expected.

This 'real' information can be at your fingertips - not only to give you clarity but, more importantly, to provide you with options and choices to help drive and improve your website, as well as highlight the areas on which to focus.

Using Google Analytics we can help you identify exactly how visitors came to your site, when they got there and whether or not they achieved your digital marketing 'goals' - financial and/or otherwise.

Refining your wider digital marketing

Google Analytics needn't just be limited to your website. If you are spending money on Google AdWords, Google's own pay-per-click advertising program, wouldn't you like to know the real return on your investment for each of your adverts?

How about your email marketing campaigns? Sure, you send it out to a few thousand people, but how many actually follow it through to your website and complete a membership registration, donate to your charity, buy a product or sign up for that event?

And you needn't stop there... what about your website's speed? How many of your pages are performing badly and affecting your visitors' overall user experience? Did you even know that page response times play a big part in search engine site ranking?

Any website worth its salt will have a search function within it to help the end user find exactly what he or she wants, quickly and easily. But few website administrators actually check to see what phrases are being used, thus enabling them to understand what visitors want and are commonly looking for on their site. There may be information, products or services that they are expecting to find on your site but you're not offering. Or even things you do offer which aren't being found easily or at all.

You can even link Google's Webmaster Tools with your Google Analytics and start optimising each page on your site using information from pages that have, for example, good keywords or phrases, yet fail to get significant clicks - and vice-versa.

Google Analytics lets you tap into this rich seam of user experience information.

Making fact-based decisions

There are various other ways to harness the real-world statistics that your website and its visitors generate day-to-day. When set up properly, Google Analytics can be used to provide a wealth of really useful information - from providing monthly website performance overviews, to detailed visitor action and conversion reports. These can include details about the effectiveness of your membership sign-up, online donations or e-commerce user journeys - and how much they're making or costing you!

Ultimately, the success of any website is only limited by the desire to maximise the success of the organisation. In Google Analytics web managers truly have the power to make well-informed decisions when making updates to their site - decisions based upon facts, not premonitions.

NetXtra now offers a range of complementary digital marketing services to help you get the most from your website, email campaigns and social media. From advanced web analytics analysis and reporting, to email campaigns, pay-per-click marketing and social media set up and management services, NetXtra can help.

To find out how NetXtra can help you drive your digital marketing, website reporting and optimisation using Google Analytics, call 01787 319393 or visit our Contact Us page.