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Demographics can be used to categorize your audience. They may relate to a group of people in a certain age range, based in a specific location, or of a particular gender, among countless other identifiable characteristics.
The complexity of your website’s target demographic is your choice. You may want to appeal to a broad audience, such as all users in a specific country – although this comes with the caveat of increased competition. Alternatively, you could gear your site more specifically, for example towards American women aged 20-35 who earn over $40,000 a year.
Despite your best targeting efforts however, you may be surprised at the kinds of people who visit your website regularly. Fortunately, you can use web analytics tools to ascertain who your visitors are – and if necessary, adapt your website to that demographic.
Website Visitor Statistics and Analytics Tools
Statistics are important information for your website, as they give you the insight and opportunities to improve. Web analytics tools provide you with the necessary data to make important decisions regarding your online marketing efforts.
Although convenient for the web developer, this can increase page loading speeds, particularly for visitors with slow Internet connections.
6 Web Analytics Tools You Should Consider Using
One of the most popular tools available to you is Google Analytics. Google Analytics allows you to see the number of visitors on the site, both historically and in real time. This enables you to analyse traffic patterns over the course of a day, week and month – offering insights into the behavioral habits of your visitors.
You can also use Google Analytics to find out which countries your visitors are viewing your site from and which language they speak. It can also generate clear and helpful traffic graphs and charts based on the parameters you specify.
SimilarWeb collects data from a variety of sources and distills it down into highly focused information. The increased focus compared to its competitors enables website owners to gain valuable insights into the types and behavior of visitors to their site.
SimilarWeb’s data sources are:
- Monitored devices
- Local internet service providers (ISPs) around the world
- Web crawlers that scan every website
- Direct measurements from connected websites and apps
Currently, 80 million websites including industry giants PayPal and eBay use SimilarWeb for their website analysis needs. You can use their browser extension and website for free, but SimilarWeb PRO costs considerably more, depending on the size and popularity of your website.
Piwik is an open source website analytics tool that records visitor activity on your website and displays the data in reports to make it easier for you to analyse. The visitor data collected includes:
- Geographic location
- How they arrived at your website
- Browser, screen size, and operating system used
- Actions taken on the page
- How long they stayed
The features of Piwik are kept within plugins, and it is easy to add new ones or remove those that you feel are redundant. The open source developer community has contributed a wide variety of useful plugins to the library. On the user interface these plugins display as widgets that you can arrange whichever way you like.
Being open-source, Piwik can be downloaded and installed on your website’s server for free. It has been downloaded around 3 million times.
AWStats - All the Necessary Functions
AWStats is an open source real-time log analyser tool which is free to download and install on your website’s server. It can be used to generate clear, graphical representations of the following metrics:
- Number of visitors, including proportion of unique visitors
- Duration of visits
- Rush hours
- Geographical location of visitors
- Most viewed, entry and exit pages,
AWStats is available in several different languages consists of all the necessary functions you might want from a web statistics tool. You get an easy overview of who is visiting the pages, what search engines they're using to find the page, what pages that are the most popular, at what time of the day they're visiting the page and much more.
This software is available for free under distributed under the GNU General Public License.
HotJar can also generate heatmaps which display the parts of the page which are most often clicked on, scrolled to, or hovered over. Valuable insights gained from this could include discovering that a link on your page is not clear enough, or that visitors expect a button to be in a certain place.
HotJar is a freemium tool, but unlike many in this category the free version has a great deal of powerful functionality – you only pay if you want enterprise-level access and capabilities.
Mint is a self-hosted (i.e. installed on your website’s server) analytics tool that can show you your site’s visitor activity over the past day, week, month, or year. Specifically, data provided by Mint includes:
- Referrers – where your traffic is coming from
- Searches – what keywords are leading people to you
- Most popular and recently viewed pages
- Visitor screen sizes and browsers – including a special tool to help you place page elements ‘above the fold’ (the name for the area of the page which the visitor need not scroll to see)
Additionally, Mint is very easy to use. Installation takes no time at all and it has a compact and simple user interface which is responsive to the size of your browser window. Even the pricing structure is simple; only costing $30 for each website you use it on.
Surveys and Polls
As well as analyzing your visitors through website statistics provided by the above tools, you can get feedback directly from them by using polls and surveys.
HotJar Polls and Surveys
The aforementioned HotJar enables you to gather direct feedback from your visitors in this way. Polls cause a small multiple choice question (or set of questions) to appear in the corner of your page when a new visitor comes. It comes with a plethora of settings, which can be used to determine when the poll appears, specific questions based on particular answers, and more.
Surveys provide a similar option, in the form of a less subtle pop up which you can set to appear whenever you like. This could be immediately upon page load, 10 seconds after page load, or even when the visitor is on the point of closing the page.
This is the most basic way to collect data on your website visitors. The users fill out the form and click “submit.” Once they click submit, the information in the form will go to the email address you specified when you created the form.
The downside to this method is that the information is not automatically parsed. You will have to create your own spreadsheets and graphs and personally input the data in order to review the information in a meaningful way.
Using Google Forms enables you to create a form which can be accessed via a specific URL, or even embedded directly into your page. The main benefits of using this method are that it is completely free to use and sorts the responses into a spreadsheet for you, making them much simpler to analyse.
The newest version of Google Forms, along with other survey websites such as Survey Monkey even offer the ability to view graphs and charts, automatically parsing the data according to the information you want to view.
Another great way to get to know your visitors is by installing a web forum on your website. A great deal of information can be gleaned from questions, answers and comments in your site forum.
By viewing and reading the comments, you can gather more qualitative data on your visitors than the analytics tools mentioned above can offer. As well as location and browser information you can learn about their personal preferences, shopping habits, education, or careers.
At the very least, it is worthwhile enabling visitors to comment on pages in your website easily. They can provide you with genuine, honest and useful feedback – sometimes much more than even they know.
What to do with the information
If you use the above methods and discover that your website is regularly receiving profitable traffic from the people you are targeting, congratulations! However, don't rest on your laurels - the Internet is a hugely competitive, ever-changing place and you never know when a new rival website will show up, or a new technique developed.
If you are not hitting your target demographic, you have a decision to make – refocus on the people you are appealing to, or change your website to be more appealing to those you initially targeted. You can decide this based on whether the new demographic meets your goals.
For example, if you are running a website that sells car parts in the USA, but your biggest demographic is Australians aged 12-18, then clearly something needs to change. But it is worthwhile also being ready to consider that your target demographic was the wrong one in the first place.
Take a look at these articles for further advice and guidance on running your website: