Making dollars and sense from Google website analytics
Google website analytics: love them or hate them, they are here to stay. Interpreting the data those dimensions and metrics provide can be challenging for the analytic novice. To Google’s credit, they do provide online tutorials to help marketers start to think in analytical terms, interpret analytical data, and take the necessary action to achieve the business objective.
While the sheer amount of data that is available can be overwhelming, it’s important to remember that you really only need a few key measurements to ascertain if your advertising and marketing is supporting contribution to revenue.
Spend the time up front developing the website measurement plan
I can’t stress enough how important this step is. Without a plan, you are guessing about the effectiveness of your marketing (both offline and online) and the related investment being made by the company.
The measurement plan serves multiple purposes. The first is to gain consensus from management on what’s important from their perspective, and secondly, to be able to supply qualitative and quantitative data that identifies and tracks customer behavior as they interact with the website.
7 essential elements of the website measurement plan
1) Why does this business exist? Start with this simple question. If you can sum up the answer in one sentence, it will help to identify the objectives to be met to support the business.
For example: Burk Advertising and Marketing exists to help businesses achieve optimal contribution to revenue generation through their advertising, branding, and marketing efforts.
Certainly, this is not a Harvard business school approach but it strips out all of the excess baggage that businesses accumulate that can convolute focus.
2) Business objectives – What does the website need to accomplish to help achieve the business objective? Thinking in analytic terms, this focuses on customer acquisition, behavior, and outcomes. Depending on the type of business you are in, outcomes may consist of the following:
- Drive product sales
- Drive contact form submissions
- Encourage engagement and awareness
- Encourage frequent visitation
- Provide information quickly
3) Strategy – specific actions that will be taken to achieve business goals. Strategy can cover areas such as lead generation, awareness building, thought leadership, or building a community of returning website visitors.
4) Tactical execution – where micro and macro conversions are identified that help support the strategy. Attribution for conversions can be first step attribution or last step attribution, depending upon the importance of the action taken by the customer. For example, if a new website visitor can be attributed to a digital ad, that could be a first step attribution.
5) Key Performance Index (KPI) – reports that analytics generate to identify specific customer behavior on the website. These reports can identify specific behaviors and events that can lead to a macro conversion. For example, downloading a PDF or signing up for a newsletter are desirable behaviors that can lead to sales.
6) Targets – metrics (data) that represent achieving goals. For example, if a KPI was to increase the visitor’s duration of time-on-site, the target to achieve could be greater than (>) 2 minutes.
7) Audience segments – consists of new vs. returning visitors, geo-traffic sources (country, region, metro area and city) and converted visits.
Successful digital outcomes are based on having a well-structured website measurement plan. The plan not only guides marketing efforts but can also help to identify areas in IT and human resources that may need attention to compete in the digital marketplace.