Before I give my top 10 tips for making the most out of your web analytics, there are a few questions I want to ask you first.
- Do you currently have a website?
- Do you have analytics on your site?
- Do you look at the reports in your analytics regularly?
- Do you make any changes either to your website or the way you drive traffic to it as a result of what the reports are telling you?
I have asked these questions in conferences before and generally by question 4, less than 2% of those in room still have their hands up. Web analytics is yet another thing we need to look at in our busy days. But its worth spending that bit of time as will no doubt save you time in the long run. Addressing those issues that have the biggest negative impact on your site first.
I’m now going to give you a quick introduction to the top 10 things I would recommend you doing with your web analytics, I will stay quite general as these things can get quite technical and I don’t want to bore you in the detail this early in the year.
When I talk to people about web analytics, many people still think that I do SEO. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Web analytics tools should be used by businesses of all sizes and across all sectors to not only perform better but focus their development, marketing and sales efforts.
Top 10 Tips with Web Analytics
1) Understand what is success for YOUR Business
Every business is different, and while tools like Google Analytics are fantastic at collecting information about your website generally, you should consider what IS success for you specifically.
To help, I would recommend putting together a measurement plan, which should mirror your overall business objectives. The example below is a top line plan for a travel business.
When you add tools like Google Analytics to your website, you will collect lots of interesting information about your website and how people use it. BUT it is worth considering a more tailored setup of Google Analytics that makes more sense to your business and in turn makes it easier to report on and optimise performance.
By completing your measurement plan you will be able see gaps in the generic setup of analytics based on your required performance metrics.
2) Understand YOUR website Funnel
Every business has a funnel, regardless of what you do. The top of the Funnel is the total amount of traffic that has visited your website. The bottom of the funnel is the total number completed actions specific to of your site; whether it is making a purchase, contacting you, downloading content or something else entirely. In between the top and bottom will be a number of steps/pages that your visitors will take, understand these and see drop off between arriving onsite and taking a desired action.
A couple of examples of funnels can be seen below:
By understanding your funnel, you are able to focus on the stages where you lose the majority of traffic, making changes to those particular pages or actions to make them easier to complete. Over time you will increase the overall conversion from the top to the bottom of the funnel and in turn generate more revenue from your website.
One of the key metrics you should understand is your overall Conversion % of total traffic to your end action (buy, contact, download etc).
3) Use Campaign tracking codes
Once you understand how your website as whole is converting, you should then start to break this down to each of the marketing initiatives you are running. By doing this you can see not only how traffic is lost through your overall website funnel, but which marketing efforts are driving the best quality traffic.
By default, Google Analytics will show you ‘channel groupings’ as shown below, however to get the most out of these you should also use campaign tracking which will help you make more sense of the reports to track other sources such as emails, partnerships, affiliates etc. Fully understanding your advertising will help you optimise your efforts and overall marketing budget.
Campaign tracking allows you to accurately track all of your online advertising campaigns along with grouping activity to specific Campaigns e.g if you are running a valentines promotion across all of your activity, than surely it would easier to see how valentines performed rather than having to look at social, email etc separately then estimate how the specific campaign worked.
Sounds complicated…well you would be surprised at how easy it is. To track your campaigns all you need to do is add a parameter to your campaign urls.
Here is a link to Google’s Campaign URL Builder https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/ this will guide you step by step to creating your campaign codes.
Consider all of your marketing activity and anything that is linking to your website and add campaign tracking codes. Don’t forget your email footer if you have a link to your website. You may be surprised at how many people you are driving to your website without even knowing it.
If it is worth spending time and money on driving traffic to your site, then it is definitely worth understanding how that is converting.
4) Remain Focused
The great thing about web analytics tools is that there is ‘LOADS of data available’.
The downside of web analytics tools is that there is ‘LOADS of data available’
When you are using your web analytics tool, have a specific question in mind. It is far to easy to get lost, drilling down into reports and think you have had a Eureka moment when in fact, the data you are looking at is insignificant in the overall picture.
It is easy to start looking at all kinds of reports but try to remain focused, look at the top line of how your website is performing. Once you understand the overall picture, then start to drill down to the next level.
5) If you can’t make a change or decision….why look at it?
Following on nicely from ‘remain focused’ with so many reports available, always be mindful of what you are looking at and what you can do as a result of it. Any report should always be questioned with ‘So What?’ You should ask yourself if you can make any changes to your website, business, marketing etc If it is more ‘of interest’ than an ‘actionable insight’ then question why you are spending your valuable time looking at it in the first place.
6) Filter your data
Filtering out traffic to your website from people you work with i.e. agencies or within your corporate network will give you a more accurate picture of how your website is performing. Most of the time, you use analytics to track how external customers and users interact with your websites, when you also include your internal traffic and that of your partners etc, it is difficult to determine how your customers are actually interacting with your website.
Removing your own IP address and your partners will also increase your overall website conversion. When setting up filters, it is worth creating a couple of profiles, one with filters included and one with all website data so that always have a total view of the world, but use the filtered view in your day to day reporting.
7) Automate Reports & Dashboards
In the main, the reports needed within your business should answer the same general questions. These should come from your initial measurement/business plan. So make life easy for yourself, create dashboards for specific questions or specific people and automate them send on a daily/weekly/monthly basis so you don’t have to always log in to your analytics tool to see your reports. You are more likely to look at your performance if you don’t have to do anything more than you have to.
When creating your dashboards, it may be that one top line dashboard will suffice, it may also be that different people within your organisation have different needs i.e. marketing will be different to finance etc. I would recommend that every dashboard includes top line context of overall performance in addition to individual requirements.
8) Track onsite Search
More and more people now arrive on a website and immediately search in the same way they would on Google etc. Visitors expect results to be shown quickly as we become more impatient and demand instant gratification.
Whatever type of business you run, you will no doubt have your own internal language or abbreviations. We as businesses need to remember that our customers or potential customers don’t necessarily use the same language as we do internally when they are looking for goods and services.
If you have the ability to perform a ‘search’ on your website, then it is well worth tracking what your visitors are searching for. This provides a wealth of information that should be used to plan future activity such as:
- Content: Do you need to change the wording of your site to mirror your customer language rather than internal language? You could also look at the content strategy of your blog, email etc based on visitor searches.
- PPC/SEO: Consider adding the keywords searched for on your site into PPC and SEO strategy. It may open your site to an audience that you may not be currently tapping into.
- R&D: It may be worth considering product/service offerings that you are not currently providing based on the demands of your visitors.
9) Monitor Bounce Rate %
So what is Bounce Rate? It is the % of visitors who land on your website then leave without any further interaction i.e. they only view one page. As a general rule of thumb, an industry average for an acceptable Bounce Rate is between 40-60% but this includes websites of all types across all sectors.
I would recommend ignoring industry standards and focus on your own website. You will have an overall Bounce Rate % for your site as a whole in addition to having a Bounce Rate % for each page on your site. Look at which pages have a high Bounce Rate and look at how people are finding those pages, you can then either address the content of the page or the marketing activity that is driving traffic to those specific pages.
Be mindful that some pages should have a high Bounce Rate %, such as a page whose purpose is to drive call volume and has a large phone number on. In addition, the contact us page may have a higher Bounce Rate as visitors may have found what they were looking for.
10) Learn & Improve
In the same way as there isn’t a ‘Do Business’ button on your keyboard meaning that you have to continue to drive your business forward. You should never think that your analytics can’t help you further. You can always improve your marketing, you can always improve your content, you can always learn and improve your website. Don’t stand still, your competitors aren’t standing still so strive to improve, be your best and have the best business.
There are lots of other recommendations I could give you on how to use your analytics tools, I could literally ramble on for ages. Make the time to look at it, even if the volumes are small, Rome was certainly not built in a day. It isn’t about volume, it is about the quality of the traffic you are driving to your website. Follow these simple steps to help understand and improve your business performance.
If you would like any support with your web analytics either to make sense of it or to learn more, please get in touch today.