How do web analytics tools work?

Abi Abrahams, Tuesday 7 August 2018
6 min read time
 

 

Web analytics tools-874450-edited

For B2B marketers, the world of web analytics offers enormous opportunities; we can discover how to revolutionize the performance of our website, a business’s greatest marketing asset. But how is this done? For all of us “non-techies”, web analytics tools seem almost like magic! But these tools are much simpler than we think, here’s how they work… 

 

The 5 steps: from JavaScript to web analytics 

 

Web analytics tools that use JavaScript can be broken down into 5 general steps. This doesn’t make all tools the same, each one comes with different perks and additions, but the way these tools monitor web traffic and gather data follows the same overarching line. This is a basic run down; many tools have additional extra steps to offer further data capture. But as a standard, most web analytics tools rely on JavaScript. So how do JavaScript driven web analytics tools provide such useful and insightful information? 

 

  • Step 1: JavaScript identifies visitor information - JavaScript as a technical language allows web browsers to interpret pages that aren’t static and serve some behind the scene purposes. Tag-based web analytics tools use JavaScript to gather visitor information. Every time a visitor views a page connected to the web analytics JavaScript, the script identifies the pages visited, cookies attached to their device, what language and browser they’re using and many more details.
  • Step 2: JavaScript gathers that information into a single string – This is where it starts to get technical! The JavaScript has now gathered the visitor information and converts it from a collection of data into a single string of code, replacing characters such as spaces with other symbols. This condenses all that valuable website visitor data, into a portable, simplified but robust format, ready for the next step.
  • Step 3: JavaScript sends a request to the web analytics server - Now our string is all prepared, it’s ready to pass back to the web analytics server via request. This process differs slightly depending on the tool in question, but commonly an image request is used to pass this vital information on. It all happens with a “?”- the question mark symbol, separating the web analytics server domain, and the string of visitor data code. This acts as the request and takes us onto step 4.
  • Step 4: The web analytics tool reads the string and transfers information into a database – The web analytics tool is constantly bombarded with requests from step 3, gathering all those strings of code and breaking them back up into the specific sets of data they represent, whilst organizing the results on a spreadsheet. This is where tools differ, not just in how they organize this broken-down data, but in how it’s stored, ready for step 5.
  • Step 5: The web analytics tool queries the database for results - The data is now ready for us to view! Each tool will show different data to the user, and users can recall web analytics data from specific pages dates and more from the database organized in step 4.

It’s a fairly simple process, in essence. More advanced tools have additional steps to present further data. For example, Lead Forensics gathers the IP address as part of step 1, and runs the IP through our privately-owned business database, to add additional business details (such as name, location and contact details). These details are then added to step 2, so they can be recalled by users as additional information in step 5. Why not find out more about how Lead Forensics can identify anonymous website traffic? Book your free demo today! 

 

What can web analytics tools offer us? 

 

So why know this information? And why run web analytics software on our business websites? Web analytics tools offer marketing departments such valuable insight, because so many online marketing campaigns return to a business website, be it email campaign or content marketing. An organizations website is paramount to their success, it outlines their online presence and sets the tone for so many encountering this brand for the first time. A bad website can seriously hinder online lead generation and brand engagement. 

 

This is why we need web analytics tools. Gaining insight into how online audiences behave, which pages they engage with, the calls-to-action that convert and how people find your website is all so valuable to any business, because it offers the opportunity to improve. These tools give organizations a window into their most valuable tool and help them understand what changes to make to ensure they reach their goals, be it lead generation, customer service or retention.


When asking which specific metrics web analytics tools offer us, the list is broad, but here are some favourites that can fuel the most effective decisions within B2B marketing:

 

  • Website traffic - Super simple - how many visitors has your website seen? Obviously, these won’t all be prospects, they’ll include current clients, those in play and lapsed/unconverted individuals. Where this is very useful, is by date, you can easily see traffic trends based on a plethora of factors, such as campaigns (email, social media etc.), seasons or public holidays.
  • Traffic source - Where did this traffic come from? Did they find you directly? Was it through PPC, social media, SEO, the list goes on! Here you can easily understand the quality and quantity of leads stemming from various campaigns, discover what engagement and product desirability blends with lead source (e.g. are those coming from PPC spending longer on the website than those coming from SEO?)
  • Top pages - Most popular pages - a simple but incredibly valuable metric. Knowing the page that engages audiences the most, is so telling and helps us understand what audiences want. The insight gained from this page offers the best window into the mind of our website users, so we can make impactful changes to better website performance.
  • Bounce rates – This metric helps organizations understand how easy their website is to navigate and use, benefiting overall user experience (UX). Knowing how often your website is accessed then immediately exited, is such a tell to know if you’re getting the right information across instantly - is your message clear from the get-go?
  • Exit pages - Different to bounce rates, the exit page metric shows you when a visitor leaves after viewing multiple pages; ultimately, what puts them off converting after an engaged visit? A hugely important factor, and a key to what your competitors are using their website to say - what holes are you neglecting to fill?
  • Visit duration - Understand how long visitors remain engaged with your website, so you can start to understand how your brand is perceived, especially to those who are discovering you for the first time.

How can we use this data?

 

We understand the importance of data provided by web analytics tools and we know the potential benefit this data can bring, but how do we use it to get those amazing results? 

 

This is where web analytics tools can only offer so much. Even the most basic tools will provide these incredibly useful metrics, but you need to do the hard work yourself. You need to apply commitment to the tool, gathering the results, searching for their causes and using the data to fuel changes to boost improvement. Without this commitment to using the data gathered by the tool, there is little point to gathering the data at all.


Whatever your business goals, and however you choose to utilize the data gained, make sure you’re using the best web analytics tool. Lead Forensics offers advanced website analytics, offering extra details such as most engaged industries and locations, so you can hone your website even further to best suit your audience’s needs. Added to this Lead Forensics can identify anonymous website traffic. Learn which businesses are visiting your website, gain a full breakdown of their user journey and experience whilst accessing contact details for key decision makers. Use this data for more than website improvements, this data directly fuels your business lead generation. Book your free demo today!

 

Free guide - Did you know, a humanized approach can revolutionize your business lead generation and change the way you plan B2B marketing strategy? Find out more- download The human touch: achieve humanization in a digital marketing world for free today!

 

The human touch: achieve humanization in a digital marketing world

 

Topics: Lead Forensics, Lead generation, Business Growth, B2B marketing, Website analytics

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