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What Is Website Visitor Tracking?

Rachelle Gordon
Rachelle Gordon

Tracking visitors to your website can improve other elements of your broader marketing strategy.

  • Website visitor tracking offers important information that is useful to both sales and marketing teams.
  • Businesses should track users' locations, demographics, click rates, bounce rates, overall traffic and source of web traffic.
  • The insights gleaned from analyzing website visitor behavior can improve user engagement and conversion rates.
  • This article is for entrepreneurs and marketers who want to improve user experience and engagement rates with their digital content.

Website visitor tracking reveals information about the people engaging with a website and how they behave. Businesses put a lot of time and effort into perfecting their online presence. However, only 2.35% of visitors to your website will convert.

Website visitor tracking offers valuable and in-depth information that marketing and sales teams can then use to refine their efforts and obtain quality leads. It also helps drive user experience (UX) efficiency, as it can reveal strengths and weaknesses on any given web page.

By closely examining website traffic behavior and demographics, companies can improve conversion rates, make the most of their digital ad spend, and consistently grow visitor numbers and conversion rates.

Why is it important to track your website visits?

Web visitor tracking offers businesses a more nuanced understanding of their potential customers and how their audience reacts to their content. Teams can retain detailed information about visitors; depending on the exact modality deployed, they may even be able to obtain company names and contact information, setting up warm leads for sales teams to follow up on. This provides incredible value because sales reps can strategize accordingly as opposed to relying on the "cold-calling" approach.

On the marketing and UX side, website tracking lets companies know if their approaches and content are working and to what extent. For example, media platforms can discover who is clicking on what content (and what's being left behind), while online stores can identify the exact moment customers are abandoning their carts or having issues during checkout.

Many website tracking tools offer "user flows," which illustrate the way most visitors engage with your website and how they move from page to page. This data is indicative of the current success rate of a website, and it can highlight areas that need improvement or a complete overhaul.

Every type of business with a website can benefit from tracking visitor data. Some of the most common goals associated with website visitor tracking include:

Additionally, marketers can reduce reliance on media spend and build off of what's currently working. Sales teams can start their days with leads they know are ready to take the next step. Even product development can be improved on using data about how current customers are interacting with the company.

Key takeaway: Tracking website visitors enables businesses to gather contact information for other marketing campaigns and improve the user experience, driving more conversions. 

What visitor activity should you be tracking?

There are several types of data that can be obtained through website visitor tracking. They may include identifying information, user behavior or overall performance analytics. Depending on your company's core goals with these tools, you may want to consider gathering the following:

  • Visitors' locations, demographics, and depending on the software, the companies they represent and their contact information
  • Click rates and user flow
  • Overall page traffic
  • Bounce rates
  • Source of web traffic

By understanding these distinct categories, businesses can develop more effective strategies. Marketers can find out which ads are the most enticing, while sales teams can discover exactly who is browsing their catalogs.

But how precisely is this information gathered?

Key takeaway: To inform your marketing efforts, you may want to track user locations and demographics, user flow, click rates on various elements, bounce rates, and sources of web traffic.

What is website visitor tracking software?

Website visitor tracking software typically focuses on three categories of data: website analytics, user behavior and visitor identity. These areas offer unique value depending on the goals of the business deploying the software, providing easy-to-understand reports with actionable information that can be disseminated between departments to maximize ROI.

While some provide high-level overviews of traffic, others are capable of providing in-depth user insights using advanced technology. Many also integrate with CRM platforms for a seamless experience.

Key takeaway: Website visitor tracking software helps gather and contextualize web traffic data. Data reports offer insights that can help improve marketing efforts.

How does website visitor tracking software work?

Most tracking software uses a reverse domain name system (rDNS) and/or a website script to gather data.

Businesses can stack current software solutions with website visitor tracking software to create a suite of tools accessible across departments. Those already storing lead data in CRMs may learn even more about prospects due to additional data provided by tracking software, for example. Many major tracking software providers integrate with leading CRM platforms and may even alert clients when a "dream customer" is currently browsing their site.

Here's how visitor tracking technology works:

Reverse domain name system

Every device connected to the internet has a unique internet protocol (IP) address, and most also have a reverse DNS record. Website visitor tracking software that uses a rDNS analyzes a user's IP address to collect information, which is then supplied to the appropriate teams. It's similar to searching for a phone number in a Rolodex, but for internet traffic instead.

Script

Website visitor tracking software may also install a script directly on a website to collect user data automatically. The software then analyzes this data to determine which companies are visiting, turning them into warm leads. This publicly available information may include a company's:

  • Address
  • Website
  • Social media accounts
  • Relevant contacts, including phone numbers and email addresses

Key takeaway: Website visitor tracking software relies on reverse domain name system and/or script methods to capture visitor information.

Is website visitor tracking software GDPR compliant?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) prevents website tracking in the European Union (EU) without the visitor's express consent. Businesses that receive web traffic from EU users must follow the GDPR's guidelines; otherwise, they risk incurring extremely high fines. Many website visitor tracking software providers offer tips on how to comply with the GDPR. This includes having a privacy, terms of use, and cookies policy clearly visible to users that outline how their information is being collected and for what purpose.

In the United States, there are no federal consumer tracking laws. However, the Federal Trade Commission recommends that companies disclose to website visitors about data collection that's occurring, especially when it's used for targeted marketing. Consumers have the right to deploy "do not track" settings on their web browsers, but there is no law preventing websites from adhering to these requests unless they already have a policy of honoring them.

Key takeaway: Website visitor tracking software could violate GDPR if you don't have the appropriate policies in place and obtain user consent.

When trying to decide which website visitor tracking software to use, it's important to consider what type of data your business would like to gather and how you plan to organize that data. Budget may also play a factor, since the scope of services and prices vary widely between providers.

Here are some of the most popular tracking software options, broken down by whether they mainly collect analytics, user behavior or visitor identity. Website analytics break down traffic, while user behavior data analyzes what visitors do once they're on a site. Visitor identity outlines who is engaging with a website by demographics.

Analytics

  • Google Analytics: Google Analytics provides basic audience and behavior metrics. It can segment users' demographics, the devices they accessed your site with, and whether they have visited your site before. It can also track a website's advertising performance and overall traffic numbers.

    For many small businesses, the complementary service works well, but for big companies, the $150,000 annual fee for Google Analytics 360 is well worth the advanced capabilities and massive data capacity increase. The free version allows up to 10 million hits per month while premium subscribers get 500 million hits per month. (Price: Free; advanced features are available at an additional cost.)

  • KissMetrics: This tracking software is suited for businesses offering SaaS or e-commerce platforms. KissMetrics provides a full "journey" for each user's time spent on a website, even across different devices. This information can help teams determine their best leads and where to focus future efforts with the most efficiency.

    From behavioral analytics to customer conversion processes, this software offers complex, yet easy-to-digest data meant to drive sales and streamline marketing strategies. (Price: Contact company for details.)

  • Woopra: One of the most powerful alternatives to Google Analytics 360, Woopra provides a qualitative view of the people visiting your site. With tools for product, marketing, sales, and support teams, this platform aims to "optimize every touchpoint in the customer experience." Their retention feature also allows for companies to continue engaging with clients even after they convert, an attractive feature given the fact that repeat business is always easier (and more cost-effective) to win versus new business.

    Woopra highlights the entire "life cycle" of a user, allowing companies to see where they shine and where they need to improve. This bridges a gap between sales, marketing, product development, and other critical departments of a business to improve practices throughout the organization. (Price: Free trial available, up to $999 per month for the full suite.)

Behavior 

  • Crazy Egg: This trusted source of website visitor tracking provides intuitive "snapshots" of user behavior. Crazy Egg reports include heatmaps of website clicks, scroll times, and bounce rates combined with rich visitor information meant to offer a full picture of each unique experience and the ways in which they interact with the content on your site. (Price: Starts at $24 per month.)

  • Mixpanel: Offering powerful yet intuitive reports, Mixpanel helps companies "build better products." With attractive and seamless user data reporting and the ability to define the successes of new site features, this software is popular with Fortune 500 companies and startups alike. Their User Profiles feature showcases who visitors are and where they may be having issues converting. (Price: Free plans available, paid subscriptions start at $89 per month.)

  • UserTesting: Another option for those seeking truly qualitative insights, UserTesting allows businesses to interact with website visitors in real time. Their "human insight platform" aims to close the "empathy gap" and allow companies to demonstrate their customer-centric approach with regards to UX. (Price: Contact company for details.)

Visitor identity

  • Leadfeeder: Leadfeeder provides identification and visitor tracking software to assist marketing and sales departments with determining and converting the best leads. Their account-level visitor identification technology ties every website visitor back to a company. Reports, which can be integrated with many major CRM platforms, indicate whether leads are "warm" and to what extent. (Price: Free plans available, paid subscriptions start at $55 per month.)

  • Lead Forensics: Focused on B2B companies, Lead Forensics allows their clients to discover new leads in real time as they visit a site, providing contact information for sales teams. Lead Forensics can also provide automatic lead scoring to determine how likely a user is to convert based on criteria such as their demographics and behavior, with a fully customizable "dream customer" portal to assist your sales efforts. (Price: Contact company for details.)

  • Act-On: Act-On is a full-powered "growth marketing" platform meant to automate and enhance customer journeys. Their account-based marketing solutions capture website visits from key target accounts and can pinpoint how they engage. Businesses can leverage data to improve overall efforts in marketing, business development and product innovation. (Price: Starting at $900 per month)

Key takeaway: There are many different types of website visitor tracking software available, each suited for different purposes and objectives.

Image Credit: Chinnapong / Getty Image
Rachelle Gordon
Rachelle Gordon
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Rachelle Gordon is a Minneapolis-based content writer who has written extensively on topics such as finance, marketing, cannabis, sustainability and tech. Her work has appeared in Benzinga, SlickDeals, and High Times. Prior to her career in journalism, Rachelle was an educator and has a passion for sharing knowledge. She enjoys helping businesses maximize efficiency while staying true to their core values.