July 09, 2001 20:49:39
What is a “Stat-Server”, and why do I need it?
Peter Martin, Jr.
Congratulations, you have just unveiled your new dealership web site after investing considerable amounts of time and money into creating a powerful new web presence. You've purchased the computers, hired an Internet staff, and started to include your web address in all of your advertising! Now you sit back and wait for the online traffic and sales to go through the roof.
But how will you know if your web site traffic is soaring or sitting in the gutter?
Soon after a new web site is built most dealers ask the logical question, “how do I know how many people are actually visiting my web site?” Many GM's and Internet Managers make the mistake of judging the effectiveness of their web site based on the number of e-mail quotes they receive or how many vehicles they sell from Internet leads. While these are important considerations they may not be good indicators of the number of consumers who find and visit your site. In fact, the only way to accurately count the number of visitors is to use a Statistics or “stat” server.
A “stat-server” is a computer software program that gives you very detailed reports about the people who have come to your site. Think of it as an Internet turn-stall that counts the number of people who enter your site. But a stat-server does more than just count the number of consumers to visit your web site. It provides many reports that can help you judge the effectiveness of your entire Internet strategy.
One of the fun features of a stat-server is its ability to tell you exactly how many people are in your web site at the any given moment. Just click on the Refresh button on your computer and the software updates the data and shows you the number of people on your site and how long they have been there. It can be useful to keep an eye on the stat-server throughout the day to get a feel for the ebb and flow of visitors to your site.
The stat-server also reports the number of people who visit a site on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. That information is not only interesting to watch but also has many practical uses. For instance, by seeing exactly how many people came to your site hour-by-hour and day-by-day, you can judge whether your web site advertising strategy is meeting your goals.
For example, if you effectively advertise your web site in the Friday newspaper, the stat-server should show an noticeable increase in web visits later that day and Saturday. If there is no increase you know that the advertisement was not effective. Likewise, if you are using radio to promote your site you should see a noticeable spike shortly after each commercial spot airs. If the “stat” server shows an increase in hits and user sessions after an advertisement runs you know that your Internet advertising is working. On the other hand, if you do not see a substantial increase in hits you may need to rethink your web advertising strategy.
A stat-server can offer reports in a variety of ways, including pure numbers and bar graphs. A review of the number of visits for the past week, when viewed as a bar graph, will quickly show you which days most people came to your side, and which days were dead. Again, by correlating this information with your advertising campaigns you can judge what advertising is working and what is not. This can be very useful as you generate your advertising budget. If you see that a particular media (radio, TV) is driving many consumers to your site, you may want to redistribute your spending to that media, and away from media that is not as effective.
A stat-server is useful for seeing what parts of your web site consumers are visiting, and the length of time they are there. You may notice that consumers spend a lot of time in your new vehicle section, which is good. The longer a prospect stays in your site the more likely they are to buy a vehicle from you. On the other hand, if people are quickly leaving your Pre-Owed vehicle section, you know that they are not finding the information they want.
What type of different reports can be generated with a stat-server? These are the different categories of reports that you can select from in the “Pages By” section of a common stat-server, which details the usage of individual pages on your web site:
Analysis, Usage Map, Page Views, Downloads, Download Errors, Least Views, Entry Point, Exit Point, Viewed Once, Time Spent, Page View Errors, and Directory.
If you would like to start using a stat-server, simply contact your web design firm. They
can probably recommend a good program. Expect to pay a one-time fee of $200 to
$600, which is a small price to pay for the ability to accurately judge the effectiveness of
your web site.
If you have any questions about stat-servers or any Internet marketing questions, please contact me at email@example.com.