You are on a powerful motorcycle. Traveling across untold miles of pristine, forest-lined, inky black 2-lanes. As you please. Sensing a cool, mist-dappled breeze on your smiling face. Breathing in bursts of honeysuckle and pine. Alone and carefree.
Well, not as carefree as you like. Though your trusty steed is humming along at this moment of reflection, no gauges work. Speed is sensed only through your own proprioception. Hopefully, you continue to remain within the limits of the twisty, risky embankments yet ahead. You strain to recall the last time another vehicle, let alone a gas station, were in your periphery. Your engine is heating up as quickly as your concern. Sure, you can make it without functioning instruments, but your confidence, planning accuracy, decision-making abilities, and overall well-being would be markedly increased if you had some $#@& gauges that worked. Now, let’s park this imaginary bike and get to the point. Web analytics, like motorcycle gauges, are often overlooked but extremely powerful crystallizers when the task at hand involves confirming you’re on the right track, sounding the alarms when something is amiss, and safely reaching your destination.
An interesting angle here includes understanding what is in the users’ best interest when it comes to creating and sharing content (also known as evaluating the customer journey). Another stalwart, A/B testing, allows your team to experiment with alternative ways to refine user experiences. Evaluating your own right track may involve centralizing customer experience data to create detailed customer profiles. Analytics can be employed in marketing campaign tracking too, including various social media platforms, to see if your multimedia fleet is careening toward paradise or stuck on the side of the road with flat content. All analytics platforms enable you to use custom URLs to track campaigns including paid advertising, affiliate marketing, email and more.
Anomaly detection within data sets of interest using upper control and lower control limits is an extremely powerful analysis feature. Seeing outliers, both positive and disconcerting, can be a timely call to investigate more closely, help save time & team productivity, provide more promising pathways to pursue, and can prevent more expensive customer frustrations & problems down the road. Switching from anomaly detection, search engine reporting can help with a better understanding of organic & paid searches, landing page activity, site search functionality, and even favored web traffic devices. Another risk-reducing feature, funnel visualization, looks at specified user pathways based on action completion, and while doing so, provides data on when a user breaks off from the anticipated path. Audience overview reporting, another signaler of discontent, provides data around pages viewed per session, sessions per user, and bounce rates. Heatmaps across pages allow your team to continuously weed out content and screen space not resonating with users. Click maps get even more granular to understand how many clicks are being generated with a given element. Guarding against user impatience, capturing average load times for pages ensures your brilliant content is being showcased within a reasonable human’s attention span (always want to get your message out there before your dear user gets to the upper right corner X).
The destination may be new revenue, more subscribers, or a larger audience. Applied analytics provide external proof that you’ve reached specific goals. Conversion rate optimization formulas are influential in raising the number of positive actions a user takes. Web analytics are also joined at the hip to inbound lead generation campaigns by providing intelligence on prospective clients’ own unique needs, current levels of interest, and engagement patterns. With any fine machine, be it an engineered, parallel twin hellion on two wheels or a deceptively elegant website with a monstrously complex back end, coordination amongst the creators is imperative. To best lay the foundation for collaboration, web analytics should be considered and customized right along with the development team, seamlessly built right into your model. Beyond the laundry list of technical questions to be answered, the team should consider the practical implications of how the agreed sets of analytics will come to life within the organization.
Some questions to consider include:
A wealth of data can be traced, aggregated, and analyzed. The tougher task is deciding on what key metrics your own unique business needs to provide confidence in future decisions, take quick actions, and, ultimately, reach your definition of success. Make your journey to the top of the mountain more energizing (and less harrowing) by thinking about analytics - early and often – during your digital roadmap’s design, development, and implementation. Now back to that motorcycle…