Your business's online presence is a highly important way to attract customers and retain them. Your website is a representation of your business, and all of its aspects—its products, branding, company values and more.
To win over new customers and encourage current customers to come back regularly, you need to allocate resources toward regularly updating and maintaining your online assets.
It's equally important to track your site performance, just like you track your inventory. To do this, you need website monitoring tools that help you understand visitor numbers, revenue earned, visitor engagement levels, the performance of web content and many more important metrics.
We created this guide to help you understand website monitoring tools and how you can utilize them. Here's what we'll cover:
Website monitoring software is used to assess the performance of a website. It helps companies track website traffic, uptime and downtime, revenue earned and other important metrics. The tool offers a central view of the website's health and gives you an understanding of the things you need to improve on the website.
When you have a view of all these metrics on your website, you can determine which elements need to be changed or removed and which ones need to boosted further.
For example, if you notice that e-commerce has been picking up in a couple of quarters, you could increase the resources to make this functionality more robust and generate more sales. You could offer a one-click checkout process and multiple payment formats such as Paypal or Apple Pay.
Also, since having a mobile-enabled site design is a must for any online store today, website monitoring software can tell you how many of your visitors and customers are using mobile devices. It can also drill down into information about users' device types, preferred mobile browser and more. These insights can help you improve your mobile users' site experience.
|Website monitoring||Tracks whether your website is up and running at all times. The software monitors the website's domain to ensure smooth performance and maximum uptime.|
|Alerts and notifications||Sends issue alerts to relevant staff members using platforms such as email, mobile device notifications, text messages, phone calls, Twitter or even Slack.|
|Monitoring dashboard||Provides a real-time view of uptime, server performance, site loading time, network availability and other metrics in a single place.|
|Maintenance scheduling||Sets schedules for frequent maintenance and updates to the website to ensure maximum uptime.|
|Network and server monitoring||Makes sure that multiple networks and network devices (phones, switches etc.) are secure and available all the time. Also checks on server performance at set intervals and helps protect against hacking attempts or site failure.|
Website monitoring software is used by a specific set of people who are largely involved in IT roles or domains. It requires an understanding of servers, codes and complex data management.
But it's not rocket science and some vendors do simplify these processes for businesses. Depending on your level of expertise in managing websites, you should choose a vendor and package that works best for your needs.
Here are some user types for website monitoring software:
Independent website developer: These are generally freelancers or third-party contractors who develop websites on behalf of their clients. With multiple websites to manage, each with its own set of complexities and requirements, they mostly need the basic features and a few complex ones.
Most importantly, these developers have to analyze the performance of each site and provide reports on issues at the front-end that the clients will be required to fix. The following capabilities will be vital for these users:
Marketing teams: The vast amount of data needed to run a successful e-commerce site includes information on the performance of marketing campaigns. Marketing team users will need to collaborate closely with IT to align goals and outcomes.
In some small and midsize businesses, as well as startups, the engineers or developers will be a part of the marketing team itself. This allows them to track website performance and identify ways to improve visitor numbers.
Users in this category can include engineers, SEO analysts and various levels of marketers. These users will benefit most from the following features:
IT manager/CIO: As these users are at the top of the funnel, they require a top-level view of all website activity. They analyze the performance reports and provide insights on things to improve.
Most managers need to be aware of any time an issue occurs so that they can make sure that someone is assigned to fix the issue. These users may need most or all of the common features of website monitoring software:
The primary benefits that companies can derive from website monitoring software include:
Increased availability of your website and mobile web application. This makes sure your website experiences the least possible amount of downtime.
Improved website performance. As the system quickly identifies issues and their root causes, your IT team can fix problems as soon as they're discovered.
The ability to quickly detect any outages or hacking attempts. The software's regular monitoring and reporting functionality can significantly increase your site's security.
More information for capacity planning. Understanding your current website usage trends will help you better plan—and budget—for application upgrades and new servers.
There are plenty of website monitoring solutions in the market, each offering different packages at varying prices. Before you settle on a vendor, make sure you do your research and demo a couple of solutions.
You won't necessarily find the best fit for your company on the first attempt. The more vendors you try, the better you'll be able to assess whether a solution meets your needs or not.
But before you shortlist vendors to demo, here are some things you should consider:
Why are the advantages of a cloud-based solution?
Cloud-based website monitoring solutions reduce the need for having dedicated servers on-site. Since website monitoring handles a lot of data, owning and maintaining your own servers isn't always cost-effective, especially for small businesses.
Also, you don't need to hire engineers to look after servers as those responsibilities are outsourced to your vendor. Be sure to ask vendors of cloud-based systems detailed questions about their pricing and security protocols.
For more information, check out our guide that lists the benefits of cloud versus on-premise ERP software.
What are integrations, and do I need them?
Third-party solutions are often able to offer additional functionality that not always available in the core software. For example, integration of Slack allows for communication, while Microsoft Azure helps build and test applications.
Ask the vendors you shortlist about the list of integrations they offer and whether they cost extra. Even if you don't immediately need to integrate your website monitoring software with a third-party app, you may require it at a later stage, when you're scaling up your operations.
Is my site, and the website monitoring service I'm considering, mobile-optimized?
With 63 percent of all web traffic coming from mobile in 2017, your site should already be mobile-optimized; if that isn't the case, that should be a top priority. Moreover, your mobile and desktop web interfaces need equal attention.
Make sure that the website monitoring software you choose closely tracks the performance of both interfaces, and isn't prioritizing one experience over the other.
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