Once a new website is up and running, the first place most of us head to is our analytics page so that we can track where traffic is coming from, how long they’re spending on the site, and what buttons they’re clicking. With myriad tools out there to stay on top of even the nit-pickiest of data, you’ll always be able to stay on top of what your visitors are up to.
The Basics: Google Analytics
Unless you’ve been living in a proverbial cave since beginning your online life, you’ve probably heard of the awesome (and totally free) power of Google Analytics. Google Analytics can be easily hitched up to any number of websites simply by adding a few configurations and providing some security reassurances.
Once you’re in, a whole world of data unfolds around your website. Google Analytics shows you where your visitors are arriving from, what kind of device they are using to get to your site, and how long they stay there – but that’s really only just the beginning. If you’re an ecommerce site, Google Analytics provides data on abandoned carts, advertising success, and social and marketing campaign results. Other features include site speed analysis and our personal favourite, a tool that lets you see what screen size your users are using to look at your website. This creates huge potential when you’re looking to optimize your website, as it helps show you what visitors are missing of your website from their screens.
Finally, Google Analytics has its own library of hunreds of widgets that help to broaden the already wide scope of Google Analytic’s power. Some of our favourites in Google Analytics’ widget library include:
- Table Booster and Tableau Software, which provide alternate data visualizations (from scatter charts to heatmaps) right on your website
- The powerful SEO Moz, which provides weekly updates on site and search engine rankings – two tools that will give you a huge marketing leg up when you’re trying to get your site found on search engines.
The Truth in Multiple Choice: The Science Behind Surveys
Surveys are integral to understanding your users when data just won’t cut it. Sometimes, a healthy rant or praise from a customer is just the motivation you need to fix a bug or improve your service. Free survey tools abound for websites, here are our favourites:
- Survey Monkey provides all the tools you need to create, send, collect, and analyse survey data from your visitors. Survey Monkey has a free basic level that allows you to send a limited number of surveys a month, or for the real sleuth there’s a pro plan that lets you send as many surveys as you could possibly conceive of per month. Survey Monkey is intuitive and friendly to beginners, with helpful question templates that help you ask the right questions. Once you’ve created your survey, you can embed the survey on your website, send it by email, or share it on social media.
- Survey Gizmo is another survey generator that lets you design, build, distribute, and collect data on custom-built surveys. While Survey Gizmo offers a range of paid packages for more precise data and complete brand control, their free package allows for unlimited surveys, CSV exportation capabilities for exporting data, and up to 350 responses per month.
Talk To Me: The Comfort in Contact Forms
As any form-generating app will tell you, creating contact forms for websites used to be an enormous pain in the butt. What seems so obvious tended to take a professional developer days to perfect. Luckily for you and me, some excellent shortcuts are now available:
- JotForm is a free form-building service where you can create fully customized contact forms using an easy drag & drop editor. Once you’re satisfied with your form, JotForm simply provides you with code to be slipped into your website, and voila, no more contact form stress. JotForm also provides survey and payment widgets in order to build a form that will suit your website.
- Wufoo were the real pioneers of form generation when they received seed funding from Y Combinator in 2006 to produce fast, flawless contact forms without all the usual hassle. Since then, they’ve become one of the most popular website apps around. Like JotForm, Wufoo provides an easy drag & drop editor to create a custom-branded form, as well as a handy “code manager” to help even the most novice of coders implement a form onto their website.
All these tools and many more could be embedded to your IMC website. JotForm even has its own widget on our widgets section. We recommend to try some of these out. You’ll be amazed how you can learn about your visitors.
Google Analytics: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3f/Google_Analytics_Sample_Dashboard.jpg (Wikipedia Commons)
Wufoo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/guspim/2477868100/ Flickr Creative Commons by user Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta http://www.flickr.com/photos/guspim/