web analytics – a point of view can be a dangerous thing

Web analytics is a crucial part of any digital strategy, and yet it is often the most ignored area. After investing all your hard work in creating kick ass campaigns, thinking through audience behaviours, and ticking of campaign amplification through all available channels I often see the enthusiasm and focus fizzle out.

Its just like everyone has downed tools and moved on, the project everyone has spent all of their energy doing and there is just nothing left in them to keep going.

And yet now comes the most important part. All the energy you put into this was for a reason – you wanted to improve your business. And how can you tell you are improving your business if you don’t keep an eye on the web analytics that show you what impact your campaigns are having on your business.

At a recent talk on web analytics I was delivering I re-emphasised that there are 3 key processes to any digital campaign – Develop, Measure and Adapt. The first part is normally the part everyone does, enjoys and spends 110% of their energy on. Once launched there is an initial enthusiasm around the Measure, and by the time you get to the Adapt people have pretty much packed up and gone home. This process is not a textbook lip service – only by following all three steps can you really improve business performance, anything else is just a performance shift.

key benefits to your business

roi – ah yes, that ever popular acronym. The one that no-one ever argues with. Step into a board room and yell you don’t care about ROI and your Christmas Party invitation is likely to get cancelled. Web analytics gives you an insight into what your ROI for the online channels mean to your business – or at the very least the Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS). In lay man terms – am I making more than I spend on advertising. No brainer metric to know really.

business performance – like ROI this is a very important metric which lets you see if your online presence is taking the direction you want it to take.

business decisions – it is very tempting, and easy, to make gut felt decisions about your marketing strategies. “I don’t like that … “, “That didn’t work”, “My customers don’t like that …”. Web analytics allows you and your teams to put metrics behind assumptions in most cases – so you know you are making credible, objective business decisions that you can stand by.

customer data – putting data anonymity aside, you can gather some very valuable information about your customer from web analytics sources, helping you build strong customer personas which influence strategies, new product development, content, targeting and a great deal more.

products and services – web analytics will let identify the preferred products and services your customers are most looking allowing you to capitalise on those successes, and bring them front and centre. You don’t see a bricks and mortar retailer hiding their bestsellers at the back, so why would you online? Analytics on your site search function will also allow you to see what potential products and services your customers might be looking for but you currently don’t provide. A word of caution here though is make sure to put this into the context of where are you actually driving your traffic too. If all your online channels are geared towards Page A and none Page B then don’t be surprised if your analytics is telling you Page A is a preferred product.

targeted advertising – with developments in advertising platforms, web analytics allows to you to get more relevant with your advertising reach and message, getting more return on your buck.

our recommendations

In short, don’t run your online presence without attaching web analytics to it. You can become inundated with numbers at the end of it, but with careful planning you can make sure you stay focused on the end goal:

know what to measure : colourful graphs look very pretty but there is only ever really 2 or 3 Key Performance Indicators that you will want to know about – How many goals did I achieve? How much did it cost me? Did I make money from it?

ensure you have the right tools in place : when building your campaigns make sure you have the tracking capabilities setup, hindsight is an expensive luxury in business – and something that does not need to happen in an online environment where traceability is a great advantage.

present the stats in an understandable format : Remember those 2 or 3 goals? Presenting 20 facts across 10 PowerPoint slides adds little value.

benchmark : It can be difficult knowing how the rest of your industry, or a vertical, compares to your results. However, compare your results with historic performance – just make sure it’s a fair test (same time of year, dimensions, and so on).

share it : Share the results with the business around you. Your business as a whole can learn a lot from successes and challenges, and analytics mean nothing if stored in an excel to the Lost Ark.

use it : Wow! The number of people who forget to use the analytics is gob-smackingly unbelievable. Hello! People! OK, so it’s not always easy to know how to use it but that is why there are great people like us around, but, again, don’t just store it next to the Lost Ark.

Francis has extensive experience in working on complex digital marketing strategies for ecommerce, B2B, communities, and more encompassing all digital marketing channels.

Francis Mac Aonghus