In the first two articles in this series looking at some of the most common mistakes that I’ve seen bands and musicians make with their websites, we looked at sites that either had little to no up to date information and sites that had far too many bells and whistles. This article is about knowing what works, and just as importantly, what isn’t working on your website. Here I will be talking about how effective musicians track website stats so they know what’s working.
First up it’s very important to understand what I mean by “working”. That definition is really up to you. What is your website for? What is the job you want it to do? Until you can define that then you won’t know what to measure. It will be different for everyone but let’s say you’re wanting to test your gig page. We want to know how many people are checking out the gig list page on your site.
Just as an aside while we’re talking about your gigs page, check yours now and see if it’s up to date. Does it still have gigs from months or even years ago at the top of the page? Does it automatically update itself as your gigs come and go? If it doesn’t, that’s something we can help you with. Leave a comment below if you need a hand with that.
So, do you know how many people visited your gig page this month? Do you know what your top five sources of traffic are on that page? Do you know who is referring traffic to you? Do you know if your Facebook ads are sending people there?
This one really gets me – some people are pouring literally thousands of dollars or hundreds of hours, or both, into their websites and they don’t have a clue whether they are working or not. Then one day they decide they need to make a change, and they spend hundreds or thousands more… and they don’t know if that change improved results, or completely destroyed those results.
Let’s stop the insanity!
Really folks, one of the beautiful things about a website is that everything is measurable. You basically know every action that your visitors take, or at least you SHOULD know.
Why would you want to spend money on things that aren’t working? One of the keys to success in any marketing effort (be it online or offline) is your ability to make every dollar you spend trackable and accountable. The only way to accomplish this is through testing. Your website must have the ability to track the responses from all of your traffic sources and ads. Of course, you will also want to test your sites pages and email mailouts.
This is all pretty simple really. You test an ad, a traffic source or a change to a web page, and you get an answer that basically amounts to YES or NO. If the answer is YES, then you keep that page the way it is. If it is NO then you create a different page or improve it or try another traffic source. And the beauty of this that once you have tested and found what is working, you can still try new ideas to see if you can keep improving your response rates.
If you are not doing this (or if you don’t have the capability to do this), then you are throwing money down the drain.
So what do you do about it?
There are a huge variety of tools available for testing and tracking your website. I can’t hope to cover them all so I’m going to stick with one of the most common ones, which is also free. This service is Google Analytics which you can sign up for here: https://www.google.com/analytics.
This is a free service provided by Google that can supply you with a huge amount of data. So much so that it can be a little overwhelming if you don’t know what to look at. Once you’ve decided what’s important to you, you can build a simple dashboard that will show you a great overview of your site. I’ve exported a report from Google Analytics here as a demonstration of just a few things you can see. This is from my site, australianmusichistory.com, and covers a 30 day period.
You can see that this dashboard shows me visitors each day over the period at the top followed, by the number of pages they have looked at. This shows me that I’m getting between 200 and 300 visitors per day and they are looking at between 300 and 500 pages. From this, I know that the average visitor is looking at more than one page. I can also compare these figures to the previous 30 day period to see if my traffic is going up or down.
Next up it shows me where those visitors are coming from. I’m lucky enough to have a very large number coming from free search traffic but I can also see the smaller channels such as Facebook and Facebook Mobile. The next pie chart shows me the type of devices that the visitors are using. From looking at this over time I know that Mobile use is growing steadily so it is important that my site works well on mobile devices. Again, if you weren’t tracking this stuff you simply wouldn’t know. How well does your site work on mobile devices?
The last list shows me what pages that users are “landing” on when they first visit my site. This tells me a great deal about what they are searching for and what is popular. If I find something that is popular, i.e. it’s working, then I write more articles like that. Simple stuff really, but I only know what is working because I track it.
A few things to watch.
As I mentioned above, these analytics tracking tools can present you with a vast multitude of information. Sometimes this can be far more than most people need. Be really careful that you work out in advance what are the important things to track, and just watch those. Most of them will allow you to build a simple dashboard to highlight their important stats without too much clutter.
Also, don’t get bogged down in analysing this stuff or start checking it every couple of hours. Yes, effective musicians track website stats, but they also know that takes time for changes and trends to happen. Be patient and only check once every week or two. That’s plenty.
What to do next.
If your site already has some stats tracking then sit down and work out your most important factors and make sure you can track them. Those whose site’s don’t have an analytics package need to head over to https://www.google.com/analytics right now & sign up for a free account.
I’m only too happy to answer any questions you may have. I’d also love to hear any success stories you’d like to share, just hit me up in the comments section below.