Some people love analytics. And for others, analytics is a necessary evil. But no matter which side you fall on, businesses need some form of analytics to gather and organize data in order to know which of their marketing efforts are most effective. If the whole idea has your head spinning here are some basics for a firmer foundation.
What do you need analytics for, anyway?
Web analytics is, according to Wikipedia: “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of internet data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage.”
Analytics has two basic categories – off-site and on-site analytics.
- Off-site web analytics
This refers to measuring and analyzing web activity including actions of a website’s potential audience (opportunity), share of voice (visibility), and comments that are happening on the Internet as a whole in areas such as social media.
- On-site web analytics
This refers to measuring a visitor’s journey once they are on your website including driving actions and conversions like on landing pages that encourage people to make a purchase.
So, it seems that unless you have zero interest in how people are using and reacting to your brand and site, either on it, or elsewhere on the Internet, then it’s important to have measurements that give you usable information.
Where to begin with web analytics
If you don’t currently use any form of analytics or don’t know where to begin, I’d suggest getting your feet wet with free such as Google Analytics and Yahoo Web Analytics. To understand how either of these work here are links to the Google Analytics Product Tour and the Yahoo Intro Video.
What you need to know to begin using web analytics effectively
1. What goals do you have in mind?
It’s important to understand what goals on your website equal success. For instance, one goal might be to buy something, another might be getting to a thank you page, or a page where they can access a free download – you can consider getting to the download page one goal and then actually downloading the item another goal.
2. How will you measure those goals?
You’ll want to set up your analytics to measure those goals. How many people actually made it do the download page? How many of those clicked on the actual download?
3. Begin with where you are now
The place to begin is to gather data exactly as things stand now. You want this baseline information so when you do make changes on your site or elsewhere, you can measure the effect, positive and negative.
4. Know how you’re going to analyze collected data
Have your plan for how you’re going to collect your data, who is going to analyze it, and on what schedule. Every day? Every week? Monthly?
5. Make changes and go back to #3
When you make a change on your website, or the frequency with which you’re posting on your social media, or any other alteration, pay special attention to the results and how it affects the success of your desired site goals from #1.
If you’re really new to analytics, start simple, take your time, and don’t let it get you down!