Jason OConnor Copyright 2004
Not accessing and reviewing your vital website statistics is
like never looking at your checking account activity and never
knowing how much money you have in it.
In Part1 of this two-part series I explained how to crunch relevant
website statistical data to facilitate constant e-marketing initiative
improvements. I explained what types of data are important, such
as unique visits, click-thru numbers and percentages, lead conversion
rates, and how to process all these numbers. You can read Part1
Here in Part 2 IÕll explain how you obtain the data in the first
place and then provide a fool-proof method for website click-thru
The first thing you need to know is where your website lives.
Every website sits on a server, a computer with the purpose of
waiting for requests from clients (peopleÕs personal computers
by way of a browser). Each server physically lives in one of two
places. It is either located at its website ownerÕs company, which
is called in-house, internal, or self hosting. If company A has
an active website and owns the server the website is on, and the
server is physically located at their company, then it falls in
this first category.
The other place a website server can physically live is at an
Internet Service Provider (ISP) or host company. There are a number
of configurations the server can fall under in this category which
is beyond the scope of this article. The main thing to keep in
mind is you first need to know where your websiteÕs server is.
Once you know this, you can begin to assemble all the relevant
site statistics. All servers automatically generate all the data
youÕll ever need on an ongoing basis. They are relentless in their
stats recording. They record all the data in whatÕs called server
log files. Manually parsing through these log files is a horrible
job that should only be wished on your worst enemy. They are huge
laundry lists of everything from every site visitorÕs IP address,
browser type, site referral, time and date visited, and much more.
Fortunately, there are software programs that can do this for
you. One of the most popular is WebTrends (http://www.netiq.com/webtrends/default.asp).
You feed your server log files to the WebTrends software, and
it produces for you an excellent presentation of all your relevant
(and some superfluous) website statistics.
If your website sits on a server that your company has in-house,
than you need to purchase WebTrends or some similar software and
locate your server log files. The files often end in .log. In
other words, itÕs up to you to get your websiteÕs statistics,
and you do this by locating your server log files and running
them through software such as WebTrends.
If your website sits on a server in an ISP then you can either
request the server log files from them and run them through your
own software, or you can ask them if they provide an interface
for you to review your site statistics online. Most do provide
this service. ItÕs often web based and all you have to do is log
onto their site to view them.
Now youÕre armed with a lot of good data. But if all your e-marketing
initiatives drive traffic to your homepage, how will you know
which ones are working and which ones arenÕt? If you send out
emails to rented lists and the call to action are all links that
point to your homepage, then youÕll never know which emails are
doing better than others. You may get an idea by seeing if your
overall traffic increased the day you sent out the email or posted
the banner (even to determine this youÕll need your website stats),
but to do it right, you need exact data, and the web will provide
it for you.
Some sites that you place banners on will offer you click-thru
counting services to you. Most email brokers also offer similar
services, at a price. But what if they donÕt offer tracking information
for you? Or worse, what if you donÕt trust their reporting?
The solution: Create, implement, utilize and manage your own
unique tracking pages.
ItÕs relatively simple. In every e-marketing campaign you conduct
you create and assign a unique html page to it. Then the initiativeÕs
call to action (hyperlink) points to its unique page. After the
campaign is done, you can then go to your website statistics obtained
through your websiteÕs server log files, and see how many visits
were logged for each unique tracking page.
For example, letÕs say you send out an email to a list of 1000
email addresses. In the body of the email there is a call to action
link that says, ÒClick Here to Buy NowÓ. This link points to a
page on your website. But not just any page. It points to a unique
tracking page you created earlier to track how many of the 1000
people clicked-thru from the email. ItÕs important that no users
can get to this new page in any other way than through the email.
LetÕs say you named the page email-campaign1.htm. After the email
campaign is done (I like to wait about 2-4 days), you go to your
website statistics (the result of parsing the server log files
through WebTrends or its equivalent) and search for the page called
email-campaign1.htm. Finally, you view the page visits number.
LetÕs say the visits to this unique page totaled 200. That number
is your click-thru number.
Now you can really start to fill in all the relevant data discussed
in Part 1. This will enable you to determine how well each campaign
is doing and whether you need to make adjustments.
To help manage all these unique pages, keep them all in one
sub directory of your site. If you donÕt do the technical work
for your site, you ought to consider giving Part 1 and Part 2
of this series to your technical web person so they can get a
better handle on your website vitals.
Until you know how well your website and e-marketing campaigns
are doing, measured in visits, leads and sales, you canÕt possibly
maximize your operation and increase your bottom line. Now you
have the information to make this happen.
About the author: Jason OConnor is President of Oak Web Works
- The synthesis of Web marketing, design, and technology. Jason
is a Web development expert, e-strategist, and e-marketer who
is trying to affect the future of the Internet in a highly positive
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