The immediate benefit of real-time web analytics with GoSquared

Long gone are the days when this site got 30 thousand monthly visitors but plenty still come to field test real-time web analytics software from GoSquared.

GoSquared is another fun team of youngsters experienced entrepreneurs (they’re 21 or something but have been running their company for 6 years…) that I help with some ideas. Of course I had to test drive their product (you can get a preview watching the live demo).

GoSquared demo

Why real-time web analytics?

The traditional approach to web stats has been looking at the data after the fact. You check what happened yesterday, during the past week, a month. What was popular, where did the traffic come from, which pages converted visitors into sign ups etc.

Tools like GoSquared (and its many competitors) show what’s happening on your website right now. How many people are visiting which pages, how did they come to you, are they staying around or leaving in 5 seconds.

Use cases for real-time

  • Campaign tracking – how is your paid search, email newsletter, affiliate deals etc driving traffic.
  • On-site promotions – are you driving traffic from your front page to sub-sections?
  • News sites can track story popularity, pushing more popular stories to higher spots for maximum exposure
  • Launching new section or feature on your site – does it get usage?
  • Which social media channels are driving traffic to you?

There are alternative ways to track all these things but they’re spread over different tools – a real-time stats dashboard pulls it all together for at-a-glance overview.

Fun to watch but so what?

The most common critique against real-time web analytics is that it’s fun to watch for half an hour but that’s it, most of the time it doesn’t lead you to any actions based on the data that you see.

Perhaps my biggest critique (or maybe it’s a feature request) of GoSquared is that I wished it provided goal/conversion tracking to help me understand which visitors are the high quality ones, which channels should I pay more attention to etc.

That would make it possible to very quickly react to spikes in traffic and optimizing conversion on poor pages, taking advantage of the few hours your site is features on HackerNews or StumbleUpon, for example.

However, looking at the data rolling in with open eyes and mind will lead to immediate ideas for improvement. For example, I noticed in the “Trends” tab that Google searches for “quadrato tissot” wrist watch were driving disproportionate amount of traffic to my site.

Looking deeper into this I discovered that I turned up #4 on Google image search for this (would be nice if GoSquared tells me more about which type of search/country origin is behind the traffic). I went back to my post about the watch and added a little content + a link to Amazon (who knows, someone might end up buying it, it’s a lovely watch).

I’m noticing other tiny trends that I can take advantage of even though this is a personal blog with no real measurable goal other than acting as a soap box for yours truly.

Their demo sucks

When guys at GoSquare launched the cool London 2012 Olympic games infographic then they also made dashboard with the real-time data for that page public. Nice move. But…!

The notifications are not set so it’s a “dead panel”. Twitter search is iffy, the term “gosquared” gets way more traffic on Twitter than it currently displays. And the biggest problem of all – the demo hides half the product – there’s a whole other tab with trends (screenshot below) that gives so much more information.

GoSquared demo - trends

, get your act together! (Knowing the speed the team is capable of I’m sure things will improve quickly.)

What’s your real-time web data need and what tool(s) do you use?

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