You can do all the optimizing, tweaking, and editing you’d like. But knowing what people are doing on the site after launch is incredibly important.
Is part two of our Website Management Tools series, we’ll discuss Analytics Tools. These are tools that’ll let you know what your users are doing on your site — what they’re looking at, how long they’re staying, what page they leave on, etc.
At its core, Google Analytics is going to give you metrics, such as:
- Total visitors
- Pageviews per visitor
- Bounce rate
- Session duration
- Referral sources
- Geographic breakdowns of visitors
- Operating systems of visitors
- Device types of visitors
- Popular pages
That’s just the stuff most people care about. It gets a lot more in-depth than that though, such as:
- Site speed (how fast is my site loading for my visitors?)
- Search results on your site (what are people using my search bar for?)
- Custom event tracking (did someone click that button I put on that one page?)
- Google Adsense integration (what are people who clicked on my paid ads looking at on the site?)
- eCommerce conversions
- Lifetime value of a customer
There’s so much to Google Analytics that you could spend days just looking at the metrics and learning from them. There are people whose jobs it is to do nothing but work with Google Analytics.
At a base level, anyone managing a website should know their way around Google Analytics.
- Easy to install to your site
- Super simple to get an overview of your traffic and popular content
- Free (for most people using it)
- Can get overwhelming if you dive too far into it
- Complicated to track an individual user through your site
- Setting up ROI or event tracking can be hard for a novice
- Support is limited only to Google Groups (which in and of itself can be tough to navigate).
Google Analytics is an easy win for any webmaster or site owner to incorporate to learn what potential customers are looking at on their website.
It offers many of the same features, though one could argue that Hubspot’s interface and graphs are prettier than Google’s.
- Easy to use
- Great, fast, effective support
- Integrated through Marketing Hub into Hubspot’s suite of tools
- Paid plans are expensive
- Not possible to get just analytics, have to use their full suite.
- Signing up for a free plan puts you in their queue for upselling, and this happens a lot.
If you have an aversion to Google Analytics or need more integration into your CRM, Hubspot will work for you.
If you want just a simple analytics tool, Google Analytics is a better bet, especially for the money.
What HotJar does — that I personally find invaluable — are two very important things:
Heatmaps and Screencasts
A heatmap is an overlay of your site, with increasing “heat spots” of places where people visiting your site are clicking.
Let’s say, for example, you have “Book a Consultation” in your navigation, but also a button for it in your header. Looking strictly at metrics of the consultation page, it’d be impossible to know where a person clicked to get there. But with a heatmap, you can tell which specific spot someone clicked.
The best part is that you get a heatmap per screen size: desktop, mobile, and tablet.
The other really amazing feature I love about HotJar is screencasts. Each visitor’s session is recorded into a screencast. This lets you playback, in real time, what a user did on your site, how they scrolled, what they clicked on, etc.
The insights you can get from watching these recordings back — and the insights we get during beta testing of a site — are incredible.
In addition to those awesome features, they also offer:
- Conversion Funnels
- Form Analysis – worried your form is too long? This’ll tell you where people drop off when filling your form out
- Feedback polls
- Instant site feedback
- Customer Surveys
- User testing
- Easy to implement
- Great support
- Generous free plan options
- Insights into what your visitors are doing
- Their script can slow your site down a small amount
- Your visitors may not like knowing you’re watching them (they can opt out through HotJar)
- Doesn’t integrate into all third-party tools
Even if you have no plans to upgrade to a paid plan, the free version of HotJar is incredible for entry-level site owners and enterprise site owners alike.
Try it for a few months, see what data you get out of it and what you learn from it. If it doesn’t provide you anything useful, let us know and we can help you get more from it or any of the tools we document in this series!
The enticing part of their platform is called “Web Experiments”, essentially A/B tests that allow you to test different things.
For example, if I show this medium sized red button to 50 people and this bigger blue button to 50 people, which one gets more clicks?
My other favorite feature is called “roll out”, which allows you to selectively roll out a part of your site, or if you’re running a web app, to a portion of your users.
So, for example, if you change the color of a button and people hate it, you can get feedback when you roll it out to just 10% of your users, rather than all 100% at the same time.
- Very powerful
- Great reporting around Web Experiments
- Extremely expensive ($3k a month, to start)
- Doesn’t provide a wide array of metrics
- Not for the novice user
Unless you’re working on a Saas application or are an enterprise website with multiple landing pages, or run a mobile app development company, Optimizely is likely not a tool you need, nor one that you’d want to spend the money on.
It does some amazing things, but those things are often ones you can live without as a website owner.