Leveraging Website Visitor Tracking for Your Business
Users do a whole lot more than land on your website and leave. Website visitors can take many actions while navigating your pages, many of which can impact your bottom line.
From clicking on call to action buttons to filling out forms and purchasing products, your users are constantly searching for a reward on your site. A pot of gold at the end of their web visit rainbow.
Site owners want to tailor the visitor experience to provide the best possible outcome for their users. To do this, you have to be tracking every website visitor interaction that matters.
Putting the infrastructure in place to start tracking takes only a few minutes, but it can provide a lifetime full of key insights.
How is Visitor Tracking Used?
From a consumer standpoint, tracking user activity on a website may instill fear or uncertainty. As phishing, malware, and other scams have become more well-known, users are apprehensive about visiting specific sites over fears of data exposure.
While this is a valid concern, there are many pieces of federal legislation in place to regulate data collection. In Europe, it’s called General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. It’s among the strictest security laws on the planet setting guidelines for personal information processing. Any US digital company needs to be mindful of this if they are likely to engage in commerce with European-based customers.
The United States has a similar law within certain jurisdictions, like California. Known as the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA), this GDPR-like legislation enables the state’s residents to control the flow of their own personal information.
With regulations increasing, consumers are getting more control over the types of information that can be shared online, and companies are encouraged to collect only the information they need most.
From a marketing standpoint, the ability to track visitor behavior can lead to several positive outcomes. When monitored correctly, these outcomes can help businesses grow.
It’s getting increasingly harder to collect information on users who visit your website, especially when many of them appear as “anonymous” users. Thankfully, there are software tools that make it easier to perform anonymous website visitor tracking and collect information that can still be beneficial. Upwards of 97% of web visitors are now anonymous, so you really have no choice but to get creative with tracking.
The Power of Push Notifications
Push notifications are the easiest way to get quick opt-ins and subscribers, even if the visitor is on your site anonymously. Users can consent to receiving updates without having to share any identifying material. This gives brands the power to reach out to more potential customers without scaring people away.
Track Behavior with Consent
It is possible to track a visitor’s location if they provide consent. Think Uber Eats or DoorDash who require location confirmation before you can order.
Few sales happen on the first visit. Lead nurturing takes time and requires frequent interactions with the prospect to help them navigate further down your sales funnel.
Website visitor tracking is intrinsically tied to lead generation. The more you understand about your audience, the higher the likelihood that you can leverage their interests in a constructive way.
One of the most robust uses of visitor tracking is for remarketing to certain audience segments. This can be done for Google Ads purposes, as well as by installing the Facebook Ads pixel for Facebook visitor tracking.
Tracking website hits across all of your advertising platforms will give you a bigger pool of data, and can help you across all channels of your marketing efforts. Here are some common examples.
Identify who has visited your website multiple times but hasn’t yet converted. This audience has shown interest in your brand but for some reason they aren’t buying. You may get them to finally commit by offering an introductory discount.
The location of your audience matters. You might use this data to create new location-specific pages or even when it comes to allocating ad spend to certain physical areas. No matter the purpose, Google Analytics makes it easy to see each visitor’s location on the globe so you can game plan accordingly.
eCommerce brands typically use geographic data the most, since they usually ship products across the country or internationally. You can use this data to craft campaigns targeting your most popular regions which will help you sell more products.
Website IP tracking is another way for an eCommerce business to access key location data. This lets you profile visitors and drill down even further to their specific locations. It can also aid brands in uncovering potential security threats. You can compare IP addresses among your site visitors against known threats from the national database to see whether your site’s security is compromised.
Mobile vs Desktop Traffic
Device type segmentation is another helpful tool to identify the type of user who navigates your site. It also says something about your site’s usability.
If you notice heavy bounce rates on mobile over desktop, your site may not be mobile friendly. Mobile-friendliness is a major ranking factor, especially now that 52% of web users (and climbing) use mobile devices.
Want another crazy stat? 61% of consumers say they are more prone to purchasing a product from a mobile-friendly site.
If your site isn’t built for iPhones and Androids, you are missing out on a ton of sales. You might also be losing out on key search rankings if Google penalizes you for not being mobile-friendly.
Internal Linking Check
By tracking users movement around your site, you can quickly determine the strength of your internal linking strategy. Are users navigating between the right pages? Is each action taking them farther down the sales funnel?
Google Analytics’ funnel visualization feature allows marketers to witness how users progress through their sales funnel and whether they are reaching the intended conversion goals. If there are an excessive amount of bounces or drop-offs throughout the funnel, it could be a sign of a weak internal linking structure. When people aren’t led to the right pages, they won’t buy.
Conversions vs Non-Conversions
Possibly the most important form of website visitor tracking is differentiating between those who converted and those who didn’t convert.
Conversions are a broad term, and they can be split into two different groups. Macro and micro conversions.
A micro-conversion is like a ‘small win’. This includes form submissions, PDF downloads, or even just the amount of time a user spends on page. Micro-conversions are little achievements that indicate a user’s interest in your brand and might point to their ultimate goals or objectives.
Conversely, a macro-conversion carries a greater immediate monetary value, and is considered the primary objective that a user must take on a website.
Macro-conversions include product purchases, service requests, free-trial sign ups, or account creations. As long as these milestones help the user reach their end goal, they are generally macro.
Google Analytics has a Goals feature that allows you to qualify all types of conversions on your website. You can name these Goals however you like, and use them to track specific events, page interactions, or clicks, then list them by priority. Using this in tandem with Google Tag Manager will give you greater control over your website visitor tracking.
Goal tracking is a step towards better website lead tracking. You can qualify the strength of leads based on their goal completions. A person who visits a specific page on your site and leaves will carry a lower value than someone who goes to your contact page and requests a quote. It doesn’t mean that the first person will have a lower lifetime value, but it’s important to segment these different types of leads so you know how to remarket them down the road.
Successful Login Attempts
For users who have already become members of your site, you can track their relationship with the brand via their login attempts over time. This can also show you how easy or difficult your login portal is to navigate and whether there are any deficiencies in the login process worth monitoring.
How Does Anonymous Visitor Tracking Work?
Let’s get deeper into anonymous website visitor tracking. One of the biggest problems facing marketers is ‘how do I collect information from unknown visitors?’ So many people visit your website without displaying any identifying info and it can make it hard to gain insights from their browsing habits.
Avoid letting sessions go to waste by implementing safe, legal strategies for data collection.
Cookies and Pixels
Website visitors used to be phased by “accept cookies” notices, but they are becoming commonplace as site owners attempt to make the most of their expanding anonymous user bases.
Sites of all sizes are using these ‘opt-in’ methods to obtain useful browsing data from their visitors, with their visitors’ consent of course.
First-party cookies are cookies that are set on your domain, meaning that you can easily edit that particular content when someone visits your website. Third-party cookies are set on external domains, and they are oftentimes intended to sync identities across multiple websites.
This type of tracking is utilized to improve content on a website and make decisions about audience targeting—especially for advertising campaigns.
For visitors, these cookie notices should represent transparency on the part of the website. Instead of invasively tracking their visitors without consent, webmasters utilize the opt-in to help themselves play by the rules and avoid legal entanglements.
Tracking Your Website Visitors
Start tracking website visitors in minutes. All that’s required is a Google Analytics (free to set up) and some basic knowledge of how to set it up on your website. If you are doing WordPress visitor tracking, there are heaps of plugins to get Google Analytics or a Facebook pixel installed on your site for free.
Once the basics are in place, test that visitor data is getting collected by going to the “realtime” tab in Google Analytics.
The next step is to finetune your data collection based on your goals. Determine what constitutes a conversion on your website then set corresponding goals to track these conversions via the “Goals” section under View.
This is pretty surface level stuff to help get you started, but let’s go over some more advanced scenarios that you’ll want to prepare for.
Website Call Tracking
Phone calls are the number one conversion metric for most local services and hospitality businesses. Call tracking should be set up to track the volume of calls coming in through your website, as well as being able to attribute certain pages for driving the most amount of calls.
Website call tracking can be done via an existing Google Ads account when you turn on call extensions and call reporting. Create a phone call conversion action in Google Ads, set your call length based on what you consider a conversion, and set up your conversion tracking tag on your site.
If that sounds too complicated, there are several third party call tracking tools that can easily track calls to a business. This software is also great for lead generation marketing since you can buy phone numbers and set up call forwarding. You can also listen to a recording of each call to determine whether it qualifies as a conversion.
Email Click Tracking
Collect valuable email click data to see how many people clicked on the address listed on your page. It’s one form of website click tracking that’s immensely important for maintaining communication with prospective customers. If you aren’t getting many email clicks it could be a function of placement. Try moving your contact details around between the header and footer. Even placing an email link within your paragraph flow could grab visitors’ attention, especially if it’s coded with a compelling call to action text like “Reach Out to Us” or something playful like “Email a Real Live Human.”
The easiest way to track email clicks is via Google Tag Manager. Without digging too deep into that platform, let’s just say that it integrates seamlessly with Google Analytics and you can see this conversion data in your Analytics platform.
User Behavior Tracking
Email and phone number tracking tells us a lot about our web design. A website that isn’t responsive—doesn’t adapt to different sized screens, especially mobile—will suffer in all areas. SEO rankings and conversions will equally go amiss if the design stinks.
Beyond tracking user behavior from a numbers standpoint in analytics, there’s a powerful tracking mechanism known as heatmapping.
Heatmapping records each user’s screen view from the moment they land on a page, showing how they scroll through a page, where their mouse cursor goes, and what areas or links they click on.
This data is extremely valuable, especially when considering design changes to improve the user experience. Google Analytics is great from a raw numbers standpoint, but heatmapping is like having a cheat code. See how users maneuver around your site and whether they reach, or don’t reach your intended conversion points.
Cross Site Tracking
Businesses who want to track user behavior across multiple websites can do so by enabling cross-site tracking.
Cross-site tracking involves tracking users across multiple websites in an effort to monitor their browsing habits for advertising and remarketing opportunities. Although this practice carries a negative connotation among some users, it’s a fairly innocuous practice as long as there is express consent given ahead of time.
Cookies and pixels represent the main vehicle used for conducting cross-site tracking, but there are some other methods that have become quite commonplace. Social media likes, sharing, and following is an extremely prevalent and effective way for brands to associate browsing habits with users’ social media profiles.
The key here is integrity. As a business owner, your job is to make consumers feel safe, which is why it’s vital to be transparent about any tracking you have in place. Improving trust means improving sales.
Start Tracking Website Visitors (Safely) Today
With heightened awareness around cybersecurity and online vulnerabilities, consumers are more cautious about their information than ever before. It’s a business’s job to respect the need for privacy and provide full disclosures about any form of visitor monitoring or website tracking.
Tracking your website visitors is about much more than placing a pixel on your pages and counting the sessions. It’s about monitoring behaviors and ensuring visitors are taking the right actions to grow your company.
Conversion tracking is a valuable start. From there, you can determine whether your site’s current design and functionality is conducive to increasing your conversion totals or whether it’s time for a redesign.
Start tracking website visitors safely and watch your business grow.