I was recently one of several people interviewed for an Inc.com story about Web analytics tools for small business. My fellow contributors included industry thought leaders such as Bryan Eisenberg and Eric Peterson. The resulting article provided an excellent summary of our collective opinion. I’ve chosen to publish my personal top 10 list here so you can see the full range of my own recommendations.
Taken together, the tools on my personal list cover the full palette of Web analytics: quantitative, qualitative, optimization and competitive analysis. I've also thrown in a couple of tools you can use to measure emerging media such as social and mobile.
Every tool on my list is either low-cost or free. Think of them as starter tools for each type of measurement category.
If you’re having trouble getting funding for expensive-but-important tools, try this approach: use low-cost tools to showcase some early successes with limited budget, then win over management and use that as leverage to get funding. (Credit goes to Avinash Kaushik on this clever solution to the budget issue.)
Without further ado, here are my top picks for broad-coverage, low-cost, high-impact analytics tools for small business.
1) Google Analytics
See where your visitors come from, what they do on your site, and how often they come back. Setting up goals allows you to perform the essential analysis function of tying behavior to outcomes.
2) Crazy Egg
Generate heatmaps that show you exactly where your visitors are clicking.
3) 4Q Survey
A simple 4 question survey that allows you to monitor online task completion.
4) Google Website Optimizer
Multivariate and A/B testing tool. Run different versions of content live on your site to determine which one produces the highest conversion rate.
Category: Emerging Media
Shorten and share URLs through social media platforms, then track traffic volume over time. Adding a "+" to the end of any bitly URL will allow you to see stats for that link - so you can use it as a competitive tool, too.
8) Facebook Insights
Dashboard that shows usage and demographic info for your Facebook Page.
9) Percent Mobile
Simple tool that allows you to see the percent of visitors to your Web site who use mobile devices.
10) Brain Power
You won't get anywhere with these tools unless you actually have someone to use them and interpret results - so make sure you have a dedicated analyst who can feed recommendations back to your business.