Analyze That: why you want to know your website better
by Greg Crandell
Ron wrote a post the other day about WhoIs, the site that helps you find out who's looking at your website. Which led me to ask, "What do you use to find out those IP addresses in the first place?" Not only is it important to keep "creepies" away from your site, it's also important to know that your average Joe or Jane is looking at your website.
For us, the solution was Google Analytics, which is a good package that comes up with new add-ons every so often. Rob [Banker, DigitalMailer COO/CIO] dislikes programs Google offers that come with the word "Beta" attached (for those who don't know, Beta versions of software generally mean there are kinks to be worked out), which Google comes up with a lot. Gmail, for instance, is considered a Beta by Google. I write that off as Google coming up with new add-ons every other week, but others consider this non-committal to the point of lazy.
But Analytics does what we ask. We can filter our results in a number of ways and get a lot of information out of it. Another good package that hopes to usurp Google's hold on the free analytics market isPiwik. They're open source (meaning people are putting up new add-ons for it on their own time in their own coding...which can go either way). There are other packages, too, that cost money and give data that's somewhat more expansive. Webtrends gets a little pricey but is meant for heavy lifting, so most users will tell you it's well worth the cost. Yahoo! Web Analytics are free to people with Yahoo! web hosting, but I get the feeling that they'll make it a public service (if not a free one) sooner rather than later.
Hopefully you'll find a package that's right for your site. When you do, look at who's looking at you. How can you reach people in the given areas you're researching? If you get more folks visiting from a particular country, can you get an outreach page for that country made? What about people from your own state? Also be mindful of your own office/business IP address and filter it out - you don't want to watch your own movement on your site, you want to watch other people's movement.
COMPLETELY OFF TOPIC, BUT INTERESTING: We've got a brand new "Newsreel" widget on the right column that's made to bring you the latest in digital communication news. Click on some stories to check them out!