For small businesses trying to grow, the pursuit for tools that give you a clearer picture of what makes your customers tick is never-ending.
Methods for understanding your customers’ interest and motivation used to be basically limited to what your customers buy and what they tell you, but now that customers interact with small businesses so much online, the quality and variety of information that can be known about customer behavior is much more readily-available.
It’s Not Just for Online Sellers
You don’t have to run an ecommerce site to benefit from online tracking tools that can give you a deeper understanding of what your customers are looking for.
In fact, if you’re not using these tools, then you’re missing out on some pretty valuable information that can stimulate growth for your business.
First Things First—Do You Have a Great Website?
Before you begin tracking customer behavior online, the first thing you should do is to make sure your business has an attractive, user-friendly website for your customers to visit.
Even if you operate mainly out of a real-world store, it’s important to have a relevant and functioning web presence because this is where a great deal of your customers are connecting with your company.
Once people can easily interface with you online, you’re ready to start looking at how they behave on your site. Here are a few tools to get started.
Zopim: Not Just for Chatting
An extension of Zendesk, Zopim is a platform for online chat, but it is worth adding to your tool belt just for the ability to watch, in realtime, the pages your visitors are looking at, their visitor path, and where they are from.
You can even see what type of browser and operating system each visitor is using. There is a lot of software that provides these analytics, but with Zopim, you can keep the list of every visitor to your site, right in front of you as it is happening.
Visual Maps to Find All the Clicks
Crazy Egg is a tool that is extremely helpful for optimizing your website by showing you, in a unique way exactly how your visitors are behaving while on your site.
Data is presented to you using something called a “heatmap”, which shows the various areas of pages that people are clicking (even if there is no link there), or even hovering.
The “scrollmaps” included with the software are also helpful, revealing just how far down the page a visitor scrolls.
Google is Still the Source for Reliable Analytics
Surely, you’ve heard of Google Analytics. There is a lot of copycat analytics software out there now, but this is still one of the best for tracking activity on your site.
As they have in many areas of the webspace, Google provides valuable metrics with this tool, such as the number of visitor sessions, pageviews, session duration, and bounce rate. You can get these calculations from other services, but Google Analytics, as you would expect, tends to be a little more accurate.
SEO and Ranking Metrics with Ahrefs
This is an excellent source of analytics of a different variety, but the sheer density of information provided with this software is a little daunting at first.
Once you start getting the hang of it, however, you realize that is virtually a live, comprehensive encyclopedia of SEO that gives you access to everything from ranking history to all kinds of charts & graphs that show how your content is performing.
This is not just for your website, either—you can gather information for pretty much any page on the web, to see what your competitors are doing, too.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.