Businesses large and small are facing many choices to connect with customers. Analytics can be helpful in making marketing choices, but many businesses struggle with where to begin with the reports they see in the Google analytics.
If you or your business team members feel a bit intimidated in choosing which data reports to start with in the backend of your website, just focus on a few basic concepts. The kinds of things you want to measure include how your website, apps, and social media impacts your traffic and time on your website, and what you need to do more of to take your digital footprint to the next level. After all, your website is the digital welcome mat for your small business.
In my previous posts for Succeed As Your Own Boss, I focused on setting goals for your website– I am assuming you’ve set goals before diving into any analytics report. (click here for more).
The information you get in analytics package typically falls into two categories:
- Metrics – a standard of measurement, represented by a number or a ratio.
- Dimensions – the digital elements that compose the metrics. Traffic sources, mobile devices, conversions.
A report combines these two details, so you can gain a picture of an aspect of your website or social media performance. You’ll want to examine social media because it is so critical to drive traffic to your site.
Most reports are in a table format, with column for metrics and rows for dimensions. Some analytics solutions will graph the table for you as a convenience. If not, always look for a CSV export – you can export the data, then create a chart in Excel or another spreadsheet that would be convenient for you (Data exports are the basis for dashboards – more on that in a moment).
First, choose dimensions that closely represent what you want to focus on in your business. Here are a few that are useful in relating your website to your business.
- Location – where people are when they viewed your site, indicating if certain cities or towns should receive more marketing or less.
- Referral Traffic – which social media, from Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest or Google Plus, you need to know which produces the most visits or longest time on site. This will help you evaluate if social media is providing a return on investment of your time.
- Mobile – Knowing what devices visitors typically used to arrive to your site can help answer your mobile marketing efforts, such as choosing a SMS text service if most visitors who are mobile mostly use a flip phone rather than a smartphone.
- Pages – which pages received traffic – useful if your firm relies on content marketing and needs to verify which blog pages visitors find fascinating.
Next, after you’ve decided on a few dimensions to cover, conduct a regular review of the metrics that indicate trends that change over time. Compare a report at various time segments to see if there are trends comparing one dimension from another: one week, one month, 6 months, year over year. One favorite of mine is to monitor before and after an event, such as a website change or a significant marketing event.
What should result for your business is a highlight of marketing choices such as “Based on the metric trends from these reports, we should market our business on LinkedIn instead of Facebook” or “Because our mobile traffic is growing, we should consider a mobile strategy”. The answers may not be complete – there may be some technical steps needed, such as website code revisions or setting up an A/B test to compare page elements – but you can organize your marketing expenses as a result of those answers.
Note that much of the deciding factor is based on trends of a dimension. Use your best judgment about your site and your business to determine which dimensions are worth monitoring.
Finally, the best way to collect analytics reports is in a dashboard. Most analytic solutions permit customizable dashboards – Google Analytics, for example, lets users select dimensions and metrics. Another option is to incorporate other business metrics, and other operations data into a spreadsheet and build a dashboard. In either case, a dashboard should quickly convey the results about the metrics and dimensions you need to monitor. You can then make informed decisions that are best for your business.
Analytics does require some effort to review, particularly if your business is using multiple marketing campaigns. Take the time to find out which metrics and dimensions to measure based on your target customer. Use the data to make sure you are extracting the best value from your marketing efforts. You will see the marketing and website choices that lead to better leads, sales and profit.
About the author
Pierre DeBois is the founder of Zimana (www.zimana.com), a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and midsize businesses that rely on Web analytics data.
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