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Tracking Your Online Marketing Program Tips to help you find out how effective your marketing strategies are

The success of your online marketing efforts depends on knowingwho is visiting your Web site and why they've come. By trackingyour Web site's traffic, you can begin to gauge the impact ofyour online marketing efforts to see the kinds of results you areproducing.

The tips below can give you an overview of ways many smallbusinesses track their online marketing programs:

Familiarize yourself with your Web logs
Since most online marketing programs will be focused on drivingvisitors to your Web site, you should begin your efforts bytracking your site traffic. Most ISPs and Web hosts provide accessto site statistics as part of their hosting packages. If you hostyour site yourself, your site designer can use software to gatherthis data. While reports may differ, they generally include:

  • Page views, or the number of times a particular page on yoursite has been opened
  • The number of unique visitors accessing a particular page
  • The routes most visitors take through your site
  • The time of day visitors came to your site
  • The page a visitor was on before coming to your site (alsocalled the referring page)
  • The IP address of the server being used by the visitor
  • The versions of the Web browser software and operating systemused by the site visitor

Look for site traffic trends
While Web logs can't tell you the identity of each individualsite visitor your site, they can provide you with some valuableinformation. Start by seeing which pages on your site are gettingthe most traffic. Are visitors leaving your home page to exploreyour product or services pages? If your answer is yes, it canindicate that you are getting high-potential customers andprospects to your site, while if the opposite is true, then you maybe targeting the wrong online audience. The pages that people lookat the most--and the least--can help you gain an understanding ofthe interests of your audience. Similarly, look at the times whentraffic to your site is highest to determine whether people come toyour site when they're at work or at home. Finally, compare Weblogs over time--spikes can indicate the success of your marketingprograms, while dips may mean you need to refocus your efforts orrework your site.

Go beyond clickthroughs
If you advertise online or send out an email newsletter, then youwill need to track clickthroughs, or the number of people thatclick on your ad to get to a page on your site. Clickthroughs are avalid gauge of the effectiveness of your message, but theydon't tell the whole story. You need to determine if peopleclicking through are actually purchasing or taking your intendedaction (such as completing a site registration form, entering acontest, calling for information, etc.). Use your Web logs to seeif site visitors are making purchases--a low volume of highlyqualified prospects may be more valuable than a high-volume ofnon-buyers.

Look at email actions
Many businesses now look to drive traffic to their sites via anemail newsletter or product offering. Each individual email shouldbe assessed for its overall effectiveness. Some things to considerinclude:

  • The percent of users opening the email--this can help you gaugethe impact of your email's design
  • The number of readers who click through to a specific link oroffer--this tracks how compelling your offers are
  • The percent of readers who opt out of receiving the email--Ahigh opt-out rate (anything above .5 percent) may show thatyou're reaching the wrong audience

Test your offers
One of the chief benefits of online marketing is its ability togive you near-instant results to your offers. For example, the dayyou send out an email offer, you can gauge its success by seeingwhether or not recipients are clicking through to your site.Compare that to other marketing methods like direct mail, whereresults can take weeks to compile. As a result, savvy onlinemarketers create different offers for different segments of theiraudiences, and then track the results to see which is mostsuccessful. They then use the results to modify their efforts basedon what works and what doesn't. Moreover, they continually honetheir campaigns to ensure they get the most profitable traffic totheir sites.

The viewsand opinions contained herein are not necessarily those of AmericanExpress and are intended as a reference and for informationalpurposes only. Please contact your attorney, accountant or otherbusiness professional for advice specific to yourbusiness.

Copyright © 2002 American Express Company. All RightsReserved.

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