Most webmasters understand how goal tracking, reporting and analytics tools can be useful for identifying problems with their websites and increasing their conversion rate. However, there is on tool that is often overlooked and that people view as a curiosity rather than something of real value, which is unfortunate given that it is such a powerful and flexible one. It is real-time analytics.
Google offers real-time data in its analytics panel, and while it is impressive to watch, a lot of webmasters are unsure why you would want to use it. The fact is that real-time analytics can help you to see if your website is running well, and it can provide insights into bounce rates, ad campaigns and conversions.
Watch Visitors as They Shop
Real-time information can help you to watch your visitors during peak times and see what’s going on. Yes, you can do this with historic data as well, but seeing things ‘as they happen’ provides a more rounded picture. If you look at some historic data and see that people are leaving on page two of the checkout process, and you then test the checkout page yourself and see no issues with it, then you may mistakenly assume that they are leaving because of the layout of the page or some of the text on it. Real-time analytics might show you that people only leave the checkout page during peak shopping periods - and when you test the page at that time, you could find that it has errors or loads very slowly.
Detailed Geographic Data
Another nice insight that you can get from real-time analytics is geographic data. Rather than simply finding out that you have visitors from specific countries, you can narrow that down to see if specific promotions are converting, and get insights into how they are using the site. You can even make quick changes (featuring different products or revising product names) to see whether that makes a change to your conversion rate. You get instant feedback, because you can change something and watch the results unfold.
It’s easy to make the mistake of obsessing over the real-time data, but when it is used properly it is an invaluable tool. There’s no need to micro-manage your site constantly, but during sales, high-traffic periods and significant news events, real-time data is a boon for any store owner.