We’ve previously published a guide on which deadly sins to avoid when working with web analytics. In this post we’ll take a look at the other side of the coin and present the must-dos, or virtues, for being successful with analytics.
1. Understand the goal of your digital channel(s)
Whether it’s a website or a social media channel, it needs to have a reason for existence. Without a clearly defined objective, you have no way of knowing how to evaluate the performance of your web presence. Usually, a website serves multiple purposes as it has one function for potential clients, one for the organization itself, and one for other stakeholders.
In any case, the purposes of a website need to be aligned with organizational strategy. Formulating the primary goal(s) is crucial as it guides every other aspect of your work with web analytics. Here’s an example of a website goal:
“The main purpose of our website is to generate qualified leads”.
2. Define your most wanted actions
Once you have defined the goal(s) of your website, you need to figure out which actions your visitors should perform in order for the website to serve its purpose. These are your ‘most wanted actions’, or conversion points, as they are the criteria of success that help you identify valuable visitors in the mass of all traffic to your website.
Setting up these criteria will be a great help in your daily web management work. They will assist you in making sense of the analytics reports you receive, as you can clearly see whether the criteria are being met. They also help individual web editors to keep track of how their respective sections of the organization’s website are performing by answering the question “Are the most wanted actions happening in my section?” Going further, editors can evaluate whether the given conversion points are a relevant measure for their section of the site, and ultimately, whether their section is helping to achieve the overall website goal(s). The same goes for individual pages: Each content page should serve a purpose and include a most wanted action in order to have a raison d'être.
3. Share insights
Analytics data is useless if it just ends up at an information graveyard somewhere in your organization. The person(s) responsible for web analytics must disseminate the knowledge obtained to everyone who has a stake in the company website. This includes providing editors with reports that can easily be made part of their work routine. These reports should be ‘copy-paste-able’, so that the editors are able to quickly share with their team how their web content is helping meet website goals.
Ideally, analysts should also host briefing sessions, monthly for instance, to present the results of their analyses. These sessions could include topics like:
- whether or not recent campaigns helped increase the number of most wanted actions performed;
- conclusions from A/B tests;
- how visitors have responded to a recent website restructure.
The briefings should also include a ‘question and answer’ round welcoming even the difficult questions that force the web team to rethink why they do what they do. Finally, these sessions also allow web editors to communicate with each other, which brings us to the next virtue.
4. Engage the web editors
Besides sharing insights, the person(s) responsible for analytics should also encourage internal feedback from everyone who has a stake in the website. This can potentially lead to ‘micro epiphanies’. For example, the analyst might present a sudden peak in clicks on the “Apply for a job” button in a specific time period, and then the person responsible for the website’s recruitment content can reveal that this coincides with a career fair that the recruitment team attended.
Creating a culture where everyone can contribute with insights to supplement web analytics data helps everyone make even better informed decisions about the website.
5. Remember the end user
Speaking of feedback, the most important input you can receive is from your end users. Quantitative web analytics should never stand alone. Ideally, visitors should be able to give direct feedback about a website while using it. This lets you do sentiment analysis – another important element in evaluating whether the website is achieving its goals. If the end users are not doing the actions you want them to do, use a survey to ask them why. Perhaps the website does not deliver the expected experience. Perhaps it is too unclear what happens when a certain action is performed.
It’s important to remember that your website doesn’t exist in a vacuum. What are people saying about your website on other channels? E.g. on social media or in blog posts written by end users. Remember also that there is no shame in user testing! Sometimes it’s just a matter of grabbing your laptop, finding a person in the nearest café and having him or her click around on your site.
6. Consider your place in the market
The final virtue ties back to defining the website goal. In order to set realistic expectations for your website, consider your position in the marketplace. For example, if you’re the new kid on the block and you are up against some well-established competitors, then having millions of visits to your site on a monthly basis is probably not a feasible goal. Instead focus on whether your unique selling points are reflected in visitors’ experience of your site, and whether the tasks that can be performed on the site are aligned with your marketing strategy.
To continue the journey to becoming a web analytics saint, download the guide "Eight Deadly Web Analytics Sins", to learn what you shouldn't do.