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February 15, 2013

Yesterday I read a post by Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors, refuting a negative test drive of one of Tesla’s electric cars. For the most part, it’s a pretty standard response to negative publicity on social media. But what caught my eye was that Musk used what is reportedly actual data from the test drive to support his point.

Raw usage data is a really powerful tool that’s often overlooked. One of the great benefits of everything digital is that it’s much, much easier to record different information and patterns compared to how you’d normally collect statistics about customers. In the old days, you might put a sensor on your door to count how many people walked in on a given day, or you might mail out a flyer with a special coupon code and see how many of them were used in your store in order to judge how effective your campaign was.

A few of the many statistics for your sites available in Google Analytics.

A few of the many statistics for your sites available in Google Analytics.

Your online presence changes all that. Google Analytics, a free software package we use on many of the sites we build, automatically collects statistics ranging from the operating system and browser your visitors use to how many times they return. Facebook’s Insights for business pages let you see detailed information about how many people have shared each of the posts on your page and even how many people saw them. For custom web and mobile apps, it’s really simple to add almost any sort of usage statistic you’d like to see. Think about how customized reporting could help you find out how your customers use your service!

Data is helpful for us as developers, too, so that we can figure out trends among the visitors to our sites. Last month we posted our biannual State of the Browser report, and among our findings was the amazing statistic that up to one out of every five people visit our sites using a mobile device. This information isn’t really a suprise to us, but it’s helpful to show when we tell friends and customers how important the mobile market really is for their sites.

Have you browsed your site’s usage data lately? Take a look around to see if there’s anything that can help you learn what your visitors want and what you can provide to help them even more.

Justin is one of the developers at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

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