Every business that has any sort of a web presence should always be asking – “What do we want our visitors to do?” We know what we would do and we all probably think that we know what most of our visitors will do, but do we really?

Most ski resorts probably want their websites to help them sell lift tickets. Pretty simple, but how do they tell how well they’re succeeding at that? Probably by tracking their online sales and ideally even trying to tie offline sales to online actions – a basic way to do this is via customer surveys. The problem with this is that all of this is readily able to be tracked via analytics, probably even more accurately and in greater detail than most of us would imagine. Most of us have probably installed Google Analytics on our site and others may even have Omniture or another analytics package, but how many are holding ourselves accountable by continually setting goals and then testing different tacts to in order to improve consumers actions?

Here’s a quick example that I am currently testing right now on this very blog. Just over three weeks ago, I decided to up my posting frequency from about twice a week to every other day. The below Google Analytics chart shows that traffic was relatively even, had a big bump from a topical post, but then once my every other day schedule took effect, the visitation was markedly higher during the period when I was posting more frequently. This certainly is what I was hoping for and expecting, but now I can start to test different things, such as the best time of day to post, as well as the best way to promote by posts.

EricinParkCity.com Google Analytics Graph

Click for full-size image.

The question then becomes, how do resort marketers use this sort of information to ‘do better’ on the web? I would suggest that they start by deciding what they want their site to do, find that metric in their analytics to determine a benchmark, and then start trying out different ideas to see which ones really to cause their visitors to do what the resort really wants on their website.

I highly recommend visiting the wonderful blog Occam’s Razor, written by the passionate and brilliant analytics guru Avinash Kaushik to learn more about the what, how, why and what else of web analytics. An additional resource that I’ve found quite valuable in finding insight into online marketing is the Marketing Profs site – on which I recently listened to a wonderful 90 webinar on Multi-Channel Analytics presented by none other than Avinash Kaushik.