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For Good Measure

Stats off, on commission

So you've got a Web site and you've got some traffic. What's the next step? Gathering statistics about your site and visitors, then tailoring your site to visitors' activities.

GlobalSCAPE, a software developer in San Antonio, relies on proprietary software to gather the Web site stats it uses to develop new products. GlobalSCAPE recently developed a new program to meet user demand for downloading MP3 audio files.

"Two pieces of data have been critical to our company's growth," says Sandra Poole-Christal, the company's 32-year-old CEO. "First, 40 percent of our traffic comes from MP3 download sites. Second, the most common word typed into search engines to get to our site is `MP3.' "

To use your site stats to their fullest potential, have a program installed on your server that tracks the whos, whats, whens and wheres of your traffic. You can monitor everything from the most frequently visited pages on your site to the top referral sites sending traffic your way. Try these tips for putting your Web site statistics to good use:

  • Find out the most popular pages in your site. Expand on that content and add a big link to it on your home page.
  • Find out which products or services generate the most interest by looking at which ones land the longest visits.
  • Analyze referral sites. William Gaultier, partner at Web marketing firm e-Storm International Consulting in San Francisco, says this can point out weaknesses in your Web marketing strategy. "If your site gets traffic from search engines only, diversify by participating in newsgroups or chat rooms [to promote your site]," he says.
  • Find out which sites send you the most users. Contact them and build a relationship.
  • Design for the lowest common denominator of your target audience. If 90 percent of your audience is Java-enabled, use Java.
  • Look at the words users enter in search engines to find your site. Pepper these words throughout your site and in your meta tags.

Shannon Kinnard (shannon@ideastation.com), president of Idea Station, an e-mail marketing agency in Atlanta, is the author of Marketing With E-Mail (Maximum Press, $24.95, 800-989-6733).

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