How to make sense of your web analytics

Lead Forensics, Monday 8 August 2016
6 min read time

A person analysing web analytics graphsThe massive growth in digital marketing combined with an explosion in intelligent and innovative digital tools, means that marketers are now just a click away from accessing a huge amount of valuable data.

And this presents an amazing opportunity. It’s a chance to pinpoint exactly what’s working and what’s not, to spot new trends and to capitalize on them in real time, and overall to ensure that the impact of marketing activities is being fully maximised.

However, as a marketer faced by so much data, it may at first feel a little overwhelming and you may struggle to know where to start when it comes to getting your head around it all. But in order to prove a return on investment, and to figure out what’s hitting the mark and what may need adjusting, it’s important to get a handle on it. This is particularly true when it comes to your web analytics.

It may sound obvious, but the key to successfully using web analytics data is to make sure you are getting hold of it in the first place! Despite websites sitting at the heart of most digital marketing strategies, a surprising number of teams still don’t have any form of analytics in place. Yet there are so many tools to choose from.

One of the easiest and most widely used tool is Google Analytics. If you haven’t installed tracking on your website then this should be your first step. It’s free and relatively simple to get started – just create a free account and Google Analytics will give you some tracking code to add into the coding of each web page. Once you’ve done that, it will then start recording everything that visitors do on your site, including where they came from (which search engine, social media site etc.), how long they stayed on the site, what they looked at, and from which page they exited the site.

 

What data should you analyse?

Different analytics tools will offer and track different things, so it’s important to spend some time thinking about the kind of data you want and need.

The best place to start is with your business goals. In order to make sure you receive relevant data, you need to figure out the KPIs most likely to tell you what you need to know. For example, if your focus is on lead generation via your website, then KPIs around tracking conversion paths and attribution reports are likely to be the most important to you.

However, if your focus is towards building general brand awareness then you may want to look in more detail at the visitors themselves, such as where they came from, how long they stayed and if they returned.

 

Look at it from all angles

There are various ways you can use analytics data and multiple ways to break it down. This includes looking at it from different angles, such as by focusing on:

 

  • Visitors
  • Content
  • Behavior

 

So you may look at a report that shows you the number of visitors over a set time period or break it down to a specific page on your website. Or you may want to focus on what was driving people to the website and what they did once there. You could also look more closely at all the visitors who stayed on the website for at least 2 minutes, to analyze what their behavior was.

Ultimately, the most effective use for you will depend entirely on the targets you are aiming to achieve and the wider business goals that they tie to.

 

Reports

Once you know the kind of KPIs you want to look at it’s time to make sure you are accurately tracking that data and can report on it. One solution here is to pull together into a single dashboard the data that is being generated by different tools. This will depend a lot on the individual tools you are using but most should offer some form of dashboard that you can customize.

Remember, when you start gathering data you will not only be able to look at a snapshot and the numbers from a certain point in time but will be able to observe a whole trend. Each of these reports will have different uses and tell a different story. Check out the infographic below to find out what powerful data Lead Forensics can help you collect. 

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Important KPIs

To help you pull out the data that will be of most use, start with your business goals and the KPIs that will show if you are on track. For example, if your goal is to generate 100 leads per month via your website then that will be your first overview KPI to look at.

When setting up your reports you’ll need to know the goal you want to reach and the current baseline you have (your starting point). That way you can plot your results over time as you head towards the goal.

Decide what the top 5 most important overview KPIs are that can help you to see at a glance how you’re doing and whether you’re on target or not. These top KPIs will also be ones you can communicate at executive meetings.

The trickiest part is always going to be settling on the right ones and understanding them, as each KPI will have several other KPIs behind them, influencing them.

You may, for example, measure new leads coming in and the number of new clients closed. If over time you see that despite generating more and more leads your number of conversions isn’t improving then you know something isn’t working. You then need to delve deeper into the data to see if you can analyze what’s going on.

 

Data influencers

In order to understand the numbers, you need to know the story behind them. This is especially true in marketing as there can be all sorts of influencers at play - from seasonal differences (December is often quieter for most B2Bs, while for many B2Cs it usually rocks), to the campaigns you are running.

The simplest way to avoid misinterpreting the data is to keep an accurate logbook of all your activity. What you’ll end up with is an accurate point of reference, so when you then sit down with the data you can tie the results and trends back to your activity. The logbook will help you see very easily what might have influenced the data.

Another important point to consider is whether the data you’re collecting is both correct and complete. Check that the tracking code is working and is being used on every page of your website. Look for any places it may be broken and not recording accurately. The more sophisticated and complicated the analytics approach you take is, the more chance of gathering incomplete or inaccurate data.

 

Analyze and optimize

The whole point of tracking, reporting and analyzing the data is to improve your strategy. Optimizing your tactics based on the numbers will always lead to a better result. And it will be easy to see the influence that different activities are having – if you remember to keep that logbook!

Over time you may find that one social media platforms is more effective than the rest and brings you the best results. In that case, you will want to concentrate on building on that part of your activity. It then makes sense to get really detailed and to figure out exactly who is coming from where and what they then do on the website. Once you know this you can then try to influence it, measure the results again and make further improvements to your plans. And on the cycle goes.

 

Basic analytics to track

When you first start out there are a few KPIs you’ll definitely want to track, such as:

 

  • Number of visits
  • Number of visitors
  • Source of those visits (where visitors came from)
  • Behavior on your site – such as the web pages visited
  • Which web pages are visited most often

 

These are just some examples and with each one there will be a number of different options and possibilities. For even more ideas and inspiration check out this blog by Kissmetric which will give you a great overview.

 

Lead Forensics bonus tip for users

Remember, with Lead Forensics software you can analyze the visitors on your website and their behavior, and take your analysis to a whole new level (far beyond that of Google Analytics). Not only will you be able to find out about anonymous visitors, but you will be able to see which particular businesses visited your site.

Setup up your dashboard with all the key KPI reports (widgets) you need and focus on the most important ones. You can then segment the data according to visitors, their behavior on the site and the content of your website, and see it all at once on your dashboard.

Don’t forget to set up a trigger report when specific events occur on your website, such as a specific visitor looking at your pricing page, so you can be alerted and jump into action immediately. It’ll give you a head start on the competition and that perfect timing that can prove so valuable.


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Topics: Website analytics, Drive Traffic

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