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Website Analytics - Why?

Let’s start with a question. Why even bother with website analytics?

Firstly, you have invested in a website and possibly in Adwords, email marketing software etc. Not to mention the investment of time of the people in your organisation. When the website was designed, you had target personas and conversions that you wanted to push visitors towards. Something like 

  • Read a brochure.
  • Sign up for a newsletter.
  • Contact you via a form/email you/call you.
  • Place an order

Of course you want to measure how many conversions are generated and you want to analyse where the converters come from and how they arrived at your website. You want to look at the conversion funnels and determine why people always drop out just before the final step.

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Secondly, in the world of digital it is possible to pinpoint “exactly” what the visitors to your website are doing. If you are going to spend a lot of time and money building your perfect website, why wouldn’t you also invest in analysing how the website is working for you – and finding out areas where it isn't so perfect.

Thirdly, during the website design many people will agonise minutely over every aspect of the design down to pixel level – but once the website is live, very little attention is paid as to how that website is performing.

Fourthly, if you want to redesign your website, detailed study of the current website analytics is an absolute necessity. If you ask 5 people about the design of your website, you will get 5 different inputs – usually based on their own personal preferences and their method of working online. Your website analytics will give you solid, statistical information from the people who actually use your website.

So hopefully you are now convinced that website analytics is a good thing and you’re rushing off to get busy. But before you go ....

Paying attention to your website analytics is a way to drive change on the website. Generating monthly reports that nobody reads is not gaining anything for the business. Use the analytics to drive changes to

  • Campaigns (including Adwords campaigns)
  • Content Strategy
  • Website functionality
  • Website design

Make 2016 the year you start taking website analytics seriously and start by identifying the key metrics of your target audience – but finally a warning – you must ensure that your reporting of those metrics are accurate.

If the quality of your data is questionable you may be fooling yourself and others in your organisation. It was the pre Google Analytics days when I installed web analytics software for a very large Australian government agency and informed them that their previous measure of 2 million page views per month was over 1.2 million more than reality.

Their manual web analytics had counted the "keep alive" page views that were coming in every 5 seconds - and more than one server was sending these messages. There was consternation in the web team as the 2 million page views per month was a figure thrown around with abandon to justify the work they were doing and the number of clients engaging with the agency online.

The moral of that story? Never become dependent on the actual numbers in your reports – focus on like for like trends that cannot be disputed.

So if you’re fairly new to Google Analytics and your Google Analytics account has a vanilla setup – no filters applied at all – how accurate is the data that you see in the reports? The answer is, unfortunately, that the numbers of visitors indicated will be higher than the actual total of “real” visitors. And the total of “real” visitors is probably higher than the number of visitors who are part of your target audience.

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Here’s a checklist of what you need to do.

  • Set up 2 Google Analytics views, an unfiltered view and a test view.
  • On your Live View, Filter your own and your employees traffic.
  • Filter Google Analytics spam – yes, Google Analytics has had a spam problem for over a year.
  • Set up a segment or segments that define your customer base (if you can only market to New Zealand then you set up a segment of NZ visitors only).
  • Define your success conversions and ensure they are being measure accurately and then set them up as Google Analytics goals (Google Tag Manager will help if you have in-page conversions).

If you need help with any of this, please Contact Cucumber or you can message me on Twitter