Are you making the most of your web analytics? Web analytics tools provide valuable insights into how your marketing efforts are performing and how you can enhance user experience to optimize your content and SEO strategies. Get ahead of the competition simply by understanding your data better and utilizing reporting features to their full potential.
With our six steps for analytics success, you can make the most of this powerful tool to effectively analyze your marketing efforts.
What is Web Analytics?
First, let’s start by explaining what this whole blog is about. Web analytics is the analysis of qualitative and quantitative data from an organization’s website to drive continual improvement of the online experience for its audience. Data equals insights, and the goal is to translate these learnings into desired outcomes.
Being consistent with your reporting will help you answer the following questions:
- Who are your website visitors?
- Why are they visiting your site?
- How are they getting to your site?
- When are they visiting?
- What was the outcome of their visit?
The more you know about utilizing analytics for business decision-making, the more you can grow!
Common Web Analytics Roadblocks
We often come across organizations that will admit that they are struggling to improve their website performance using analytics, and there are a couple of common limitations that always seem to be the cause.
They just don’t have time.
We get it; times can get busy, and analytics insights may not be at the top of your priority list. But in all honesty, digging into your website’s performance will help you make more efficient use of your time by identifying what strategies are successful and what aren’t to improve productivity.
They don’t have the skillset.
Often, people can attain that base level of analytics implementation, but they don’t have the knowledge or experience to get to that more advanced level to add value from a decision-making perspective. Success is found in creating and maintaining reporting that is customized to the needs and goals of your business, and that is something that constantly evolves as campaigns change, which can be a struggle to keep up with.
Now that we have identified the topic of web analytics and some of the common limitations we see, we are here to share how you can maximize your analytics and reporting efforts.
6 Steps to Web Analytics Success:
The process begins with planning. So much time and effort goes into a website’s design, the user experience, and the look and feel, but once it goes live, what happens? We like to compare it to putting a lot of effort into planning an epic party but then not inviting anyone. What’s the point of taking on the massive undertaking of building an incredible site if you aren’t setting up proper tracking to find out if you are actually achieving the key outcomes you want?
1. The Discovery
- It’s important to begin by understanding the current state of your site by completing an inventory of everything that pre-exists. What is being tracked on your existing website and reporting implementations, and of these, what needs to be sustained? From a business perspective, what do you need to track moving forward?
2. Creating a Measurement Plan
- Also referred to as a measurement framework or measurement schema, what we want to do in this step is create a plan offline before we get into the tools and start setting things up.
- It can be as simple as using an Excel spreadsheet and writing down everything you want to track in terms of actions on the site. This could include anything like the completion of forms, clicking “email us”, watching videos, or downloading resources.
- We then go a step further and add naming conventions to help understand how the reporting is going to be presented down the road. Creating this consistency from the beginning will help eliminate any confusion when you’re looking at your reports in six months.
3. Selecting Analytics Toolset
- There are lots of options to consider when selecting web analytics tools. What are your needs? What existing technology do you have? What software does it need to connect with if you have other data that needs to be integrated? What’s your budget?
- Some of the most popular business analytics toolsets are Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics. A lot of the time these budget-friendly platforms are the way to go and can be used for organizations of all sizes, but there are other options that may be superior depending on each unique situation.
- Your analytics toolset should be a start, but a lot of people stop there. Don’t forget about a dashboard reporting tool! This feature helps improve the presentation of your data to make it simpler to identify what’s working for you and what’s not. This is especially useful when you have stakeholders that you need to share your reporting with.
Now that we have our plan in place, we know what we want to track, and we know the tools we’re using. It’s time for the second phase, where we dive into those tools and configure everything.
4. Analytics Implementation
- Now it’s time to set up everything you are trying to achieve from a tracking perspective. From navigational items to button clicks to completed forms, all new tagging needs to be set up, and anything existing should be updated.
- Sticking with the most common Google side of things, start with Google Tag Manager to implement tagging and event tracking. Then you configure Google Analytics (the new version being GA4) and add new views to allow for customization (ex: audience segments), add filters (ex: internal traffic), and set up conversion goals to track important outcomes.
- Something you want to understand when setting up conversion goals is what outcomes are truly important. There’s a difference between events on the site that are helpful in understanding how people are using the website and those that are actually going to influence how you make business decisions.
5. Dashboard Reporting
- Something we have found very effective when getting into setting up dashboards is to think about what questions you’re trying to answer and format your dashboard reporting around those. This tends to resonate with people better, and it makes it easier for high-level stakeholders to understand the data.
- We encourage you to consider an out-of-the-box dashboard if it better suits the needs of your business. Google Analytics dashboards can come across as very technical, less visual, and not as accommodating for custom data in comparison to some other options.
- Think about what other data sets you already have in your company or external data sets that you can integrate with your marketing data to really add value. Certain dashboards, like Looker Studio (formerly Google Data Studio), allow you to pull data from third-party platforms like social media, CRM tools, or call tracking. This is a much more powerful way to make decisions and gain amazing insights, and it is something a lot of companies could take advantage of moving forward.
6. Commitment to Ongoing Analytics
- Don’t set it and forget it! One of the most important takeaways from the analytics process we have seen is to not stop after the setup phase.
- Find an ongoing rhythm, ideally monthly, if not more. As you start using the reporting, it will start to evolve as you figure out which questions and metrics aren’t adding as much value anymore and focus on the ones that are. As your team gains experience analyzing the reports, you will see more value down the road once everyone understands the metrics at a higher level.
- Consistently looking at data enables continual improvement. You can monitor what campaigns were successful or what needs to be adjusted and make timely changes. By looking at the data on a regular basis, you will also be able to spot issues quickly and get on top of them early, which can have a big impact on your results.
Committing to better web analytics tracking and reporting will help your organization see the true value of business analytics and positively impact business-making decisions. The key takeaway is that you must value and allocate sufficient time to plan, implement, and monitor on an ongoing basis.
We partner with our clients to offer services to help them grow their digital traffic and conversions on an ongoing basis, leading to long-term results and continuous business growth. If you’re looking for help optimizing your data and reporting, get in touch!