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Analytics: A Creation Story

Production Solutions

heather-300x300In the beginning there was a website, and the website was good… or was it? Perhaps it could have been better?

As Direct Marketers, we all love data. We love pouring over analysis to find new ways to improve our campaigns. One of the best things about digital marketing is having immediate access to your website analytics. Let’s look at how these analytics can help you understand the impact of online and offline campaigns.

If you’re using Google Analytics (and most people are), you may be a bit intimidated at first. It’s a sophisticated, highly-customizable system that will allow you to track a complex set of metrics, including the performance of your digital marketing campaigns. But never fear – most of the work is already done for you! There are many built-in data views for you to peruse. Here are four key areas to get you started:

  1. The Dashboard
    You’ll start on a handy dashboard that summarizes the most important information about your website. It includes the number of sessions (how many times an individual visits your site), the number of users (how many individuals visit your site), how long a visitor typically spends on your site, how many pages they view, and your bounce rate, or % of visitors that leave after viewing just one page.This dashboard can tell you a lot, depending on the goals of your website or current marketing campaign. Perhaps your session numbers are significantly higher than your user numbers. This indicates the same people are coming to your page multiple times – which is great, particularly if that’s the goal! Other metrics, such as your bounce rate, can indicate users are not compelled enough by your landing page to further investigate your program or services.
  2. Website Traffic Sources
    This data will tell you how visitors are getting to your website. They could be searching for a topic in Google and reaching your site as a result of your search engine optimization (SEO). Visitors may be arriving at your website as a result of your social media posts, mentions about your organization in blogs, or seeking you out by typing your URL directly.Understanding where your visitors are coming from can help you determine where to focus marketing dollars or highlight improvement areas for your SEO.
  3. User Content Flow
    Though it may seem difficult to read at first pass, the user content flow dashboard shows the path visitors take as they navigate around your website. By understanding where they are going, you can adjust the location of call-to-action buttons, or move content around to boost your response rates.
  4. Top Website Pages
    This section shows you the pages that attract the most visits on your website. This information will help you determine the pages getting the most traffic before you plan your website strategy, and will also indicate the effectiveness of your marketing campaign.

In addition to those metrics, you can use Google analytics to better understand the demographics of your website visitors, how often they come, what time they come, and how traffic compares year to year, month to month, week to week, and even day to day. Access to so much information may seem daunting, but it’s not difficult once you understand how to make this data work for you.

To accomplish that, you must first determine what’s important to your website in the form of goals, or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The KPIs will vary from organization to organization and campaign to campaign. Eric T. Peterson, author of Web Analytics Demystified, writes “KPIs exist because there is already too much data available to any business of any size.” This is particularly true with digital marketing.

Here are some things to consider when developing your KPIs:

What KPIs are not
KPIs are not raw numbers. They may consist of, and be determined by raw numbers, but KPIs require analysis and must be associated with tangible goals. KPIs are typically presented as averages, percentages, rates, and ratios.

What KPIs are
KPIs are specific areas related to your campaign that will help you make decisions and determine success (or failure). Peterson describes the concept as metrics that either “drive action or provide a warm, comforting feeling to the reader.”

Determining your KPIs
Identifying the correct KPIs will require breaking your overall goals into components or incremental gains, and isolating the metrics associated with each. “It’s essential to determine your KPIs before a marketing campaign, evaluate them frequently during the campaign, and review them at the conclusion.”

And there you have it – website analytics demystified! By spending some time understanding your website analytics and developing a clear definition of your goals, you’ll take the mystery out of improving your website’s performance.

The PS Digital Team has extensive experience in website design, email marketing, Search Engine Optimization, campaign strategy, and analytics. Contact a partner on our team today to help you take the mystery out of analytics.