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How to Use Data to Build a Better Website

October 2017 • Vladimir Sergeyev

website data

Is your website doing what you need it to do? Do you know how it’s performing? Setting up analytics for your website gives you a data-driven approach to understanding what’s working and what can be improved. In this post, we’ll walk you through how to use analytics to understand your customers’ behavior, and in turn, build a better website that drives growth for your business.

Determine what to measure

In order to understand how your website is performing, you need to first identify what you should be measuring. This is one of the first steps in getting started with behavioral analytics. The best way to approach this question is to list out your business objectives, and then identify the events (customer actions) that best correlate with them.

If you have an e-commerce website, for example, your business objectives may be to grow your number of customers, increase purchases, and bring customers back to shop more frequently. This would translate to website goals such as increasing site traffic, improving conversion from view item to add-to-cart and purchase, and encouraging repeat visits. Make sure to prioritize and focus your website objectives, and avoid vague vanity metrics, such as overall page views, that don’t correlate with a specific objective.

Once you’ve identified your website goals, it’s time to select the analytics tool that’s best suited for your business and instrument events so you can begin measuring performance.

Select the right analytics tool

A number of analytics tools exist for measuring the performance of your website. In fact, businesses will oftentimes use a few different tools depending on their specific data needs.

We built Facebook Analytics to provide an event-based solution designed to measure people’s site behavior, rather than just a session-based tool that focuses on cookies and page views. We then layered on rich demographics that Facebook can uniquely provide, and added omni-channel analytics support, so you don’t lose sight of people’s interactions with your business when they use different devices, or interact with different channels, such as your app or Facebook Page.

Setting up Facebook Analytics for your website is straightforward using the Facebook Pixel or our Javascript SDK. Just add in the code snippets for each page and page interaction you want to measure. Learn more here.

Learn where people are coming from

Now that you have your website analytics set up, it’s time to find out where your visitors are coming from. You can do this easily with Facebook Analytics using the Traffic Source and Referer URL features.

To do this, create a Breakdown report, select “Page Views” as the event, and choose “Referer URL” for the event parameter. You’ll get a report showing you which external webpages are sending people to your website, and how much traffic they each contribute. You can also select “Traffic Source” as one of the event parameters to get a general overview of the types of websites sending you traffic, such as search engines or social networks.

website breakdown

One of the unique capabilities of Facebook Analytics is access to rich demographics and audience insights. To get a better understanding of who’s visiting your website, click on the People tab and select Highlights to get an overview of your visitors’ age ranges, gender, language, geo, and more.

You can also dig even deeper with Segments, which allow you to view audience insights for different groups of people based on what websites they’re visiting from, so you can better identify and prioritize where to promote your business.

segments

In addition, Facebook Analytics now supports UTM Source, Medium, Name, Content and Term, allowing you to see which specific marketing campaigns are driving people to your website. You can also create a Segment of people who visited your website from one of your campaigns by specifying UTM parameters, and see how they progress through your website.

event parameters

One important point to remember as you view your data - Facebook Analytics provides you with more accurate visitor counts regardless of if someone is visiting on different devices, or visiting multiple times, so you can make more confident decisions.

Understand behavior on your website

After you’ve gotten a handle on where your website visitors are coming from, it’s time to dive into their site behavior. Earlier, we talked about aligning website goals with your business objectives. If some of your goals are to increase your customer base and encourage them to shop again, understanding where they’re coming from is just one piece of the puzzle.

You’ll also want to understand which pages and content they’re viewing, what actions they’re taking on your site, and how often they’re coming back. To get these insights, create a Breakdown report, select “Page Views” as the event, and choose “Current URL” for the event parameter. What you’ll get is a table of each webpage on your site, along with the number of times each was viewed, and more importantly, the number of unique people who viewed each page.

Similarly, you can filter your report to see which webpages your top purchasers viewed the most, to understand what content is most interesting to them. Once you have an idea of the content your target audience is engaging with, you can deep dive on their specific site interactions by analyzing your event data.

The Events tab of Facebook Analytics allows you to see how often people are taking the specific actions you care about on your website. For example, if one of your goals is to increase your email newsletter subscription, as long as you’ve instrumented your email subscription button to log an event when clicked, you can easily measure how many unique visitors are subscribing on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Next, we’ll walk through how to measure conversion for key actions by creating different sequences of events using the Funnel report. But before moving doing so, we need to cover retention.

Retention reports are a powerful way to keep track of and visualize how often people are coming back to your website. This report shows you what percent of new visitors return after subsequent periods of time, such as one day or one week. Additionally, a handy retention table allows you to see if each new group of site visitors are coming back more often or less often, which for example, may help you understand the impact of recent changes you’ve made to your website.

user retention

You can also use the powerful Cohort reports available in Facebook Analytics to view other types of retention reports, such as how often first-time purchasers come back to make another purchase each day or each week. And as with any report in Facebook Analytics, you can apply Segments to see how people’s behaviors differ based on demographics, specific actions taken, and more.

Measure conversion and revenue

Using Funnel reports in Facebook Analytics, you can easily create ad-hoc funnels to measure how effectively you’re moving people through a desired flow, such as viewing an item, adding it to their cart, and purchasing. In the Funnel report, you’re able to specify different events, drag and drop them in the order you want, and view conversion rates at each step as well as for the overall funnel.

You can further refine your funnel to see how conversion rates differ between groups of people based on the website or campaign they visited your site from. To do this, select “Page View” as one of the events in the funnel, click Edit, and select refine by “Web Parameters”. From here, you can specify the Referer URL or UTM parameters you’re interested in.

funnel refinements

Because Facebook Analytics can understand when the same person is viewing your website or adding an item to their cart on different devices, you’ll get the most accurate conversion rates that measure what percent of actual people are completing each step.

In addition to analyzing how many people are completing the purchase step of your funnel, you can also measure the number of purchases and revenue generated by going to the Events tab, and selecting the “Purchases” event. Here, you’ll get important stats such as Total Revenue, Average Revenue Per Paying User, and Average Purchases Per User.

Get started with people-based website analytics

By analyzing where your website visitors are coming from, and understanding what actions they take, you can more effectively make product decisions and build a better website that drives growth for your business.

To get started with Facebook Analytics, visit analytics.facebook.com. If you already have Facebook Pixel set up for your website, you can view your analytics today by going to facebook.com/analytics.

Author

Vladimir Sergeyev
Software Engineer
Facebook Analytics