But where do you start?
You can start with a decent Web analytics tool something that will tell you who is visiting your Web site when and more importantly, which content successfully turns visitors into customers.
"Basic business intelligence starts with who, what, when, where and how customers visit your Web site," he said. "But how small businesses use this information determines the next step attaining critical business objectives."
This is where an application like NetIQ's WebTrends comes in handy. When it was first introduced in 1995, WebTrends revolutionized Web analytics. Back then there was no way to measure a Web site's success online. Today, in its eight iteration, WebTrends makes it easier for small businesses to make smart business decisions those that produce greater returns.
WebTrends Log Analyzer 8.0 is an entry-level Web traffic-reporting tool available for small businesses. Offered on multiple platforms, Log Analyzer 8.0 brings small businesses powerful features that provide easy access to all sorts of information through a browser-based user interface.
Powerful features typically found in enterprise-class solutions, such as dashboards and customizable templates, are now available in Log Analyzer 8.0. Users can quickly and easily consolidate their most important information into a single view.
This is a major upgrade. In earlier editions of WebTrends, users could only see what someone else allowed them to view like a network or systems administrator. Users could review page after page of data from the table of contents while manipulating the time frame through the calendar function.
The dashboard capabilities with customizable templates built into Log Analyzer 8.0 allow different personnel to view data that's pertinent to their line of work all in a single view. Marketing managers can review current ad campaigns, while network administrators can view Web server performance and bandwidth usage.
Log Analyzer 8.0 strikes a happy medium between marketing, IT, and business managers. This enables small businesses to save resources while focusing on what's important to their business without looking for a needle of an idea in haystack of data.
Seacrist said the company's goal is to provide small businesses with the most flexible end-to-end Web analytics solutions possible.
"Log Analyzer 8.0 provides an easy way for small businesses to get up and running quickly and includes some of the advanced functionality only found in more costly, advanced Web analytics packages," Seacrist said.
WebTrends' Log Analyzer Series 8.0 is comprised of two editions Log Analyzer 8.0, delivering Web traffic reporting for the small business with a single Web server, and an Advanced Edition, which adds additional features to support mid-sized business. Log Analyzer Series 8.0 is available for $499; the Advanced Edition starts at $1,999. Log Analyzer 8.0 includes:
- Dashboards: Prioritize the information you use most in a single view. Predefined Dashboards are available on all major Web site activities, such as navigation, traffic activity, referrers, technical reports and visitor activity.
- WebTrends MAP: Gives the power of analysis to business users, enabling them to select the items they wish to analyze by pointing and clicking as they navigate through their own Web site.
- Customizable Templates: Customize the content of the WebTrends Desktop for a specific business function or user, enabling each user to see only the most critical information.
- Content Groups: Assign groups of pages to content groups to understand exactly what content is the most interesting to your customers on an aggregate level.
In addition to these features the Advanced Edition of Log Analyzer 8.0 offers SmartSource Data Management and support for multiple servers. For growing small or mid-sized business with multiple servers, SmartSource Data enables users to collect Web visitor data in a streamlined format for increased data accuracy and easier data management.
SmartSource Data Management also allows for easy data migration across WebTrends software or hosted service solutions. The addition of SmatSource Data Management to the Advanced Edition ensures users that site traffic reporting is accurate. It also allows for forward and reverse content group path analysis that goes beyond tracking individual pages to review visitor's paths through user-defined content groups.
If you are planning on fine-tuning your small business Web site soon, NetIQ WebTrends recommends the following tips to you get started:
- Identify qualified visitors coming to your Web site. Determine where visitors are coming from and what percentage are target customers; redirect promotional costs to maximize that audience and format the Web site to appeal to the most valuable visitors.
- Make sure technical issues aren't costing you money. The greatest marketing promotion in the world won't reach anyone if it is buried in a badly designed Web site or one that crashes all the time. Test typical customer scenarios to determine a path to success. Investigate solutions that allow business professionals to chart Web promotions at their desktops.
- Simplify the experience. Streamline registration forms and purchase processes to increase conversion. Ask only for information that's absolutely necessary to complete the transaction. Prioritize your online promotions and place only the most important ones prominently on the homepage and other key areas on your site.
When it comes to investing in a Web analytics program, Seacrist said small businesses need to do the same thing as a big business.
"Every click tells you something about your Web site," he said. "Small business investments in Web analytics might be lower overall, but they've got more at stake. Don't spend money on content that isn't working. Don't buy keywords if you don't know how customers found you. Use Web analytics to your advantage to tell you everything you need to know about your Web site."
The bottom line is don't revamp your small business Web site without some insight into what your customers like because every click matters.