Getting Started with E-commerce Analytics
It seems the common road for e-commerce rookies, myself included, is to find the products, build the sites, dabble in SEO, (when that fails) hire someone else for SEO, then dabble in analytics, then maybe hire a company to review and help with analytics. While that road map has worked for many, the better solutions is to create a longer term learning plan from day one for both SEO and analytics. You will be better for it! For example, if you have a developer build your site you can confirm that the site is SEO friendly (just with the most basic SEO knowledge). Then, when your store launches you will be able to accelerate the growth of your stores by better understanding your customers and their traffic patterns via your analytics, making sales early and often is ofter critical for survival (Its hard to live with no income…been there and got the t-shirt).
Long-term Growth with Analytics & SEO
If you are so fortunate to build a successful e-commerce site, then you will likely be looking for ways to grow your business. This is where your analytics education pays off! All mega successful site have people if not teams of people analyzing their data to help increase sales and conversions rates. The problem is for small businesses is that we typically can’t afford to hire our own in-house SEO person or team (analytics experts commonly charge $25-$50 an hour) . So the alternative is to do it ourselves or hire a company to come in a do a flat fee evaluation and report for us. While on the surface that sound peachy, there is a fundamental problem here.
The outside firm can setup your analytics and explain some reports to you. I am not against hiring such a firm, however unless you understand your analytics you will miss out on many actionable items and their reports will only provide you a short term glimpse into your websites internals. Furthermore, no outside firm will understand your business like the owner does, for example, the business owner will typically have a deep understanding of who the customers are, what they are looking for, and why they are looking for different items. This deep understanding of your customers is important when dissecting analytics.
Most importantly, if you have a solid understanding of analytics you can setup systems that will monitor key indicators for your business and as a result we will have a useful, actionable analytic system.
Tips for learning analytics and SEO:
- create an education schedule
- don’t overload on info – a litter bit at a time
Where to Start Learning Google Analytics
- Google Analytics Overview
- Google Conversion University
- Google Analytics You Tube Channel
- Google Analytics in 60 Seconds
- Google Seminars: Let Google Teach You!
Where to Start Learning SEO
Free Online Guides
- SEOmoz’s Free Beginner’s Guide to SEO
- Aaron Wall’s SEO Guide for Bloggers
- Google’s Starter Guide for Webmasters
- Danny’s Checklist for Learning SEO
Time Investment / Commitment Required: 1-3 hours should get you through any of the guides above
- Inbound Marketing by Dharmesh Shah & Brian Halligan
- Search Engine Optimization: Your Visual Blueprint for Effective Internet Marketing by Kris Jones
- Search Engine Optimization Secrets by Danny Dover
- Marketing in the Age of Google by Vanessa Fox
- Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day by Jennifer Grapone & Gradiva Couzin
- The Art of SEO by Rand Fishkin, Jessie Stricchiola, Eric Enge & Stephan Spencer
Time Investment / Commitment Required: The largest of these is ~450 pages, which might take between 4-8 hours depending on how fast you read
Blogs, Forums & Search Communities
- Forums / Q+A
Time Investment / Commitment Required: 30-45 minutes per day or 90 minutes per week (if you aggregate your time into a single slot)
Conferences & Events
- SES San Francisco – August 16-20
- SEOmoz PRO Seattle – August 30-31
- SMX East New York – October 4-6
- Inbound Marketing Summit Boston – October 6-7
Time Investment / Commitment Required: Typically 2-4 days plus travel time
Time Investment / Commitment Required: Over the course of 90 days, this is a 10-20 hour per week commitment, possibly more when cramming for the dissertation.