Making Sense of Web Traffic

30 december 2002, 07:45

Uit een recent onderzoek blijkt 30% bezoekers van e-commerce sites af te haken bij online aankopen. Web analytics kan inzicht geven waarom dit percentage zo hoog is.

In today’s difficult business climate, companies that sell their wares online have found themselves in a race to boost the effectiveness of their Web sites. Toward that goal, these enterprises increasingly are using Web analytics —a technology that monitors and reports site use patterns—to better understand how customers locate information and buy products on their sites. By using data gleaned from such analysis, companies can improve their sites to increase customer loyalty —and, by extension, sales.

“This whole process is becoming more mission-critical for what a retailer wants to do,” Jeff Roster, a senior analyst with Gartner Dataquest, told the E-Commerce Times. “But what do you do with the information? They’re trying to understand what to do, how to do it, and what it means to them.”

Looking at Traffic

One approach enterprises can take is to use Web site logs to track the movements of prospects or customers through their online environments. Through such logs, they can determine which pages customers visit in what order, and where they eventually end up. Important metrics like conversion rates—the percentage of visitors who take a desired action, such as buying a product—also can be found in logs.

Observing which paths visitors take through Web sites can also help site owners determine a strategy that will encourage people to follow through on browsing by placing an order, IDC research director Bob Blumstein told the E-Commerce Times.

Changing Outcomes

Shopping-cart abandonment is one of the major headaches e-tailers face. Recent studies show consumers leave as many as 30 percent of shopping carts high and dry at e-commerce sites. Through Web analytics, site owners can get clues as to why abandonment rates are so high.

“It might be that the Web site is confusing,” Blumstein said. “It might be

at a certain point folks would really like to chat with someone live because there’s just some detail they’re not sure of, but they have no opportunity to do so. So they give up.”

Price could be a barrier, too, especially if a company notices that customers are very interested in a product until they see the cost. “For that, there either has to be some greater preparation and selling of the benefits to make the price worthwhile in the consumer’s mind, or perhaps an adjustment in the price itself is needed,” he said.

The Fundamentals

Web analytics also can reveal other information that is important to site owners. For example, knowing where potential shoppers are coming from—whether the answer is a search engine or another Web site that links to the e-tailer’s online presence—can be critical when a company is deciding how to market itself or choose potential partners.

Also, if a site gets a lot of international traffic, an owner can determine whether it would be beneficial to offer language variations or even open a new country-specific site to capture more sales. Similarly, a company that sees an influx of unintended international interest might learn that it is spending marketing and advertising dollars in the wrong way.

Not Just Traffic

To truly understand what a customer goes through at a Web site, though, a company needs to examine far more than just Web traffic logs, Daniel Hess, comScore Networks vice president, told the E-Commerce Times.

One metric a business should examine is how it handles the volume of incoming traffic from a technological standpoint. An enterprise also should look at the broader competitive landscape, and examine how actions in the online world extend to those in the offline one—such as a brick-and-mortar store purchase, a test drive of a car, or a trip to a particular tourist destination.

“With Web analytics, at the end of the day, the objective is business and customer analytics,” Hess said. “Web traffic analytics helps us understand what specifically happens in the interactive portion of the relationship, and is one piece of that larger puzzle.”


Marco Derksen
Partner bij Upstream

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