Real-time User Tracking Solutions for Your Online Business
The world of website analytics can be complicated. Whilst the collection and analysis of data can be crucial for improving your online business, finding the right solutions to your website can cause more work than you’d like.
To help you out, this guide will explain everything about real-time user tracking and its benefits to your business. We will introduce you to nine different tools and provide you tips on picking the right option for your online business.
WHAT IS REAL-TIME USER TRACKING?
Before we examine the benefits of real-time user tracking, it’s important to understand what these systems are and how they operate. Let’s break down real-time user tracking into its essential components. Real-time user tracking involves:
- A website tracking system, which is a system that collects behavioral data about the visitors of your site. Furthermore, most tracking systems also aggregate this data into a meaningful report.
- A real-time system, which means the data is collected and accessible at the time of creation. It’s different to some other website tracking systems, which might collect and analyze the data retrospectively.
Therefore, a real-time user tracking system is a combination of the two systems. It provides you data and statistics of visitors to your website in real time.
There are three main categories of information a real-time user tracking system can gather and process.
Source of the visitor: The system can analyze the source of the visitor to understand how they found your website. A visitor could enter the website directly by typing in the address or through an indirect route. Indirect routes could include:
- Through a search engine, either by searching for your business or searching for keywords related to your business
- Through your social media channels
- By clicking on a link that directs to your website (this could be a blog post, third-party link or an ad)
User demographics: Real-time user tracking can also reveal more information about the visitor in terms of their demographics. This involves information of the user’s geographical location (what country, county or city the user is from) and other background information (for example gender, marital status, number of children).
User behavior on the site: You’ll also be able to monitor data related to visitor behavior on your website such as the following.
- The total number of visits in terms of unique visits and return visits. You’ll also see the number of page impressions, or hits, your site attracts.
- What the user is looking at and clicking on your site. You’ll see whether they visit different pages on your site and if so, which pages attracted them and in what order.
- The time the visitor spent on your website. You’ll be able to view the total time spent on the site, as well as the time spent on different sections/pages on your site.
- Whether the visitor returned to your site and the frequency of these return visits.
In the below video, you can learn a bit more about different web analytics options and how they work:
HOW CAN YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS BENEFIT FROM USER TRACKING SOLUTIONS?
The benefits to using real-time tracking solutions are generous. The truth is that studies have shown repeatedly how past consumer behavior can predict future consumer behavior.
Understanding how visitors behave on your website will enable you to predict customer behavior as well as improve your website and business.
Since you can tell what type of customer is repeatedly using your website to behave beneficially (making a purchase, sharing content, signing up with the service), you can reach out to this type of visitor more. On the other hand, you’ll also better understand the customer who might visit your page, but who doesn’t make the final decision to purchase.
The behavioral information therefore can help you improve the website, as well as your products and services. Tracking solutions are an essential tool for improving your marketing, as you learn more about the visitor and the website’s appeal. It’s also a cost-effective way to test different strategies. As you can monitor traffic and behavior instantaneously, you could switch between different marketing options on the go. This provides you instant feedback on what visitors prefer.
You can re-design the website if users are finding it hard to navigate or don’t follow through with shopping decisions. You can focus on the positives in terms of successful products, pages that are often read and shared, and links that are more appealing. Furthermore, you’ll also be able to improve on the negatives. Do certain banners work better than others? Is your search engine optimization (SEO) driving enough traffic on the site and so on? Questions such as these can be answered with real-time tracking solutions.
Overall, you’ll be able to define your target market more precisely and create successful content, as well as improve your marketing strategies.
THE BEST REAL-TIME USER TRACKING TOOLS TO CHECK OUT
It’s not surprising that there is a large number of real-time tracking solutions available, considering the benefits businesses can attract by using them. However, finding the best solutions can be tricky.
The following list of nine solutions will be a great place to start your search. We’ve included different options, from paid to free systems, with each program offering something different to your business.
Amung.us – suitable for starters
Amung.us has been on the web analytics scene for a long time and they have a wealth of experience in terms of real-time tracking. It’s an online platform providing users real-time analytics. The information showed by the program includes:
- Visitor numbers
- Visitor location maps
- Visitor device charts
- The website’s social impact (link posting, social media shares)
Amung.us is easy to set up and easy to use. If you are looking for basic information about your visitors, then the program is suitable for you. Whilst the clear and easy-to-use features are the program’s strengths, they can also be considered a weakness. If you are looking for detailed information and analysis, this program doesn’t necessarily provide you an in-depth look.
Price: Different Pro plans vary from $5 a month to $50 a month, a free version is also available
Clicktale – comprehensive tool for demanding users
If you’re looking for a full-featured analytics tool, Clicktale is a good option. It provides you different ways to analyze user behavior, not just demographics and the data analysis could help you improve your website.
With Clicktale, you can monitor real-time information such as:
- Visitor sessions
- Conversion rates
- Heat-map of the website (how visitors moved their mouse on the site and which links did they click).
The biggest strength of Clicktale is the amount of real-time information you are going to see. You’ll better understand exactly what customers did on your site and which information attracted them the most. However, the problem is how the program omits certain information from the playbacks. Certain technical information, which might help you understand the behavior, doesn’t necessarily show up on your screen and you could easily draw the wrong conclusions. Nonetheless, it is definitely a comprehensive tool for demanding users.
Price: Subscription plans, with price ranging from $99 a month to $990 a month
Clicky – the second Google Analytics tool
Clicky is often described as a second Google Analytics tool, which says plenty about the quality of this program. The program provides in-depth information about customer behavior as well as demographics. With Clicky, you can view information such as:
- Heat map of customer behavior on site
- Visitor location
- Visitor source (Google, social media link, a third-party link, etc.)
- Visitor bounce rate
The strength of the program is how all the data is available on your website (when you login as administrator). This means you don’t need to go to another site to view your data, but can easily access it as you monitor your site. It’s definitely a bit trickier to use and it’ll take some time to learn to understand all the tricks. Furthermore, an additional benefit of Clicky is its mobile versions for both iPhone and Android.
Price: Subscription plans, with price ranging from $9.99 a month to $19.99 a month, free and custom options are also available
Feedjit – easy to use, but not very detailed
Feedjit is one of the most popular traffic counters amongst bloggers. This widget-type of program displays data on visitors to your website and it does that in real-time. With Feedjit, you can focus on statistics such as:
- Visitor location
- Visitor browser use
- Visitor source
- Visit exit link
Now, the program is definitely easy to use and something to get you more accustomed with website statistics. Nonetheless, it is more of a tracking device and lacks some of the analytic features some of the other programs on the list have. Furthermore, the free version adds advertisements to your website, which might not be a suitable aspect for businesses.
Price: Free to use, offers a paid subscription package as well
GoSquared – technically sophisticated all-rounder
GoSquared is another fantastic analytics program, with real-time tracking options available on top of other features. The information of this web-based platform includes:
- Visitor numbers
- Visitor source
- Visitor heat map (what they are viewing)
- Visitor trends (historical overview of what visitors have viewed, the busy times for visitors, etc.)
GoSquared’s strengths definitely include the efficiency of use and easy setup. While the program contains plenty of data and you’ll spend some time learning all of this, it doesn’t require a huge technical ability to get going. The data is presented in a clear and lean manner, allowing some tweaking around. However, if you’ve never used analytics tools before, you should be ready for some hard-core learning at the start. There’s also some question whether the program is worth paying, when Google Analytics could potentially provide similar data for free. On the other hand, Google’s tool doesn’t provide real-time tracking.
Price: Subscription plans are from $18 a month to $1,1770 a month. Additional People Analytics plans are available from $50 a month to $5,000, a free plan is also available
Piwik – open-source, but difficult to understand
Piwik is another analytics tool, which benefits from being around for a long-time. It’s an open-source analytics tool, which provides a wealth of information including:
- Visitor numbers
- Visitor locations
- Visitor source
- Visitor conversions and goals
The program offers different installation options, which is beneficial for users with varying technical ability. Furthermore, Piwik’s plans don’t limit the data you are able to store. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about selecting between different plans. However, it isn’t the easiest program to use, especially if you are testing your skills with the advanced setup version. Compared to some other platforms, even Google Analytics, the dashboard can be quite difficult to understand. While it’s a great service, it isn’t necessarily an exceptional analytics tool.
Price: Free plan, if you require hosting the cost will be around $4 a month. Paid plans for businesses are also available with pricing depending on the features you pick
Woopra – comprehensive, non-web-based analytics tool
Woopra is a wholly comprehensive customer analytics tool, which doesn’t just provide you statistics, but also creates reports and in-depth analysis of customer behavior. The platform even allows the creation of comprehensive visitor profiles, with most of the data available in real-time. The program monitors data such as:
- Visitor numbers
- Visitor source
- Visitor heat map
The huge advantage of Woopra is its app integration. It’s easy to integrate other services with the platform, which can enhance your customer tracking and service. Since it’s not a web-based platform, the performance is better compared to some of the other web-only platforms. The interface lacks a bit, both in terms of design and options available. The data storage limit can be a disadvantage to certain bigger online businesses.
Price: Subscription plans range from $79.95 a month to $1,119.95 a month, scalable enterprise and free plans are also available
Mint – scalable and detailed, but requires some technical skills
Mint is a web-based analytics tool, with the ability to collect and view tons of interesting data. Mint provides you data from four main categories:
You can further see this information in terms of hours, weeks and months and in real-time. It reveals things like where the visitor came from (both location and source), as well as information on what the visitor did on the website.
The program is a comprehensive analytics tool, which you can modify to your needs. In fact, the scalability of Mint is one of its strong points. On the other hand, the program requires a FTP connection, as well as basic understanding of HTML. It’s definitely a bit tricky to use, but provides in-depth information.
Price: A $30 flat fee, upgrades and updates available at different prices (licensed users get certain features for free)
W3Perl – open-source and very basic
W3Perl is an open source analytics tool, which operates similarly to Feedjit. The program tracks real-time visitor data, such as:
- Visitor number
- Visitor source
- Visitor heatmap
The platform is relatively simple to use and it provides a sufficient visitor-tracking platform for small businesses or blogs. The setup is quite straightforward, although you need basic knowledge of technological terminology. But W3Perl is by no means a comprehensive analytics tool and if you are a big business, you might want more from your platform.
Price: Free to use
HOW TO DECIDE ON THE RIGHT TOOL
A number of the above real-time tracking systems offer similar solutions to your business. You’re unlikely going to need all of them and certain tools might be more suitable for your business than others. So, how do you decide between these different options?
Understand your business needs
First, you should consider the reasons for using a real-time tracking tool in the first place. What is the main reason why you want to track visitors of your website? For example, you might be:
- interested in visitor demographics over visitor behavior.
- interested in understanding the source of customers (third-party links or direct route?).
- interested in understanding which content visitors are more attracted to.
- interested in personalizing your value proposition to users.
Different businesses might value data differently. In order to find the program that tracks the right data, you need to understand the type of data you are looking for.
Furthermore, you also need to consider the future business needs. Depending on the type of business you run, the requirements you have now for a tracking system might differ from what you need in a year’s time. Therefore, you need to consider the scalability of the system.
Define your level of expertise
The above tools are quite varied in terms of the level of expertise required for proper use. If you are starting out and you don’t feel confident in using different technology, you might want to start with an easy-to-use program such as Feedjit and Clicky.
On the other hand, if you have a sufficient grasp of using tracking systems and the like, you shouldn’t shy away from systems such as Mint and Woopra.
Consider how much you are willing and able to pay
Money is of course an aspect of choosing the right tool for your business. If you aren’t ready to spend money, you do have free options available. For example, W3Perl and Piwik offer a sufficient tracking option for a business without paying a penny. On the other hand, if you can afford to pay, paid tools, such as GoSquared, can provide a more in-depth look at data.
When you are considering the cost, keep in mind user tracking could enable you to generate additional revenue, as you learn about the visitor. Therefore, the cost of the system might be justified in the long-term.
Consider using a trial
Overall, it might be a good idea to consider using a trial first. Almost all of the paid tracking systems mentioned above offer some type of trial options and the trial period can be great for understanding how the tool works. Even a two-week trial can help you see whether the tool provides you data, which you need. You’ll also be able to use the product, which can tell whether you find it easy enough to use. In terms of paid programs, trials can help you decide whether or not the program is worth the cost.