One of the neat things about analytics is that the data doesn’t lie. Sure, people can interpret the same data differently, but the data “is what it is”. And if you’re monitoring the right metrics, sometimes the data can flat out surprise you.
Take our site, for example. We choose to display our contact information at the bottom of every page — rather than just including it on our “Contact” page — so as to make it easier for people to communicate with us. We recommend this tactic to our clients as well. The easier for customers the better.
We also have forms on our site which enable visitors to request estimates for different types of work or send us logos and pictures or even camera-ready art. We designed our forms as “bare-boned” as possible so that they would also be easy for customers to complete. You don’t want people getting frustrated with the process and hitting the back button.
We treat online actions such as completed forms as “Goals” in Google Analytics, meaning we’ve identified them as having a special value to us, and we track data relating to them more closely. These valuable contacts are all different ways of doing (or considering doing) business with us, and when they occur, they show up in our analytics data and we can drill down into the data for more information. By more info I mean stuff like 1) how the customer found us — directly, referred from another site, organic search, PPC; 2) what keyword they actually searched for (if it was a search); 3) whether they were using a mobile device; and 4) which pages they viewed before filling out the form, just to name a few. This info and more is all there in the data if you know how to extract it.
But with all the things our clients can do on our website, and despite the fact that our contact information is on every page of our site, the Contact page blows all the other Goals away. In fact, our Contact page gets more action than all other Goals combined. And what do people do on this page? They locate our phone number and they call. We can see them do this in “Real-Time” in analytics.
So how do we interpret this data? It’s simple. People still prefer to pick up the phone and talk with us. As fast as communication online can be, it really doesn’t compare to the instant gratification of a live voice on a phone line. And we’re just fine with that.