Analytics 101: 6 Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make
Today’s post is written by Bruce Clay Inc.’s very own Google Analytics-certified Sean James. In this post, Sean outlines the mistakes you may be making with your analytics and how those mistakes can throw off the success of your Web campaign. Through these simple steps, you can help ensure your analytics are set up and run well to create a solid foundation for measuring ROI.
Mistake No. 1: Not using analytics tools to measure the success of your online campaign.
Building a site and having your site optimized for search engines or starting a PPC campaign is only the beginning of an adaptive process. Mining the data of your site and making changes based on your findings is another key component that can mean the difference between having a business and having a successful business.
Ask yourself this question: How is my site performing? If you don’t know the answer, you’re just one of a large percentage of people who are not utilizing some of the most important tools of the Internet marketing trade. By not using an analytics tracking tool for your site, you have already made the first mistake that you can not afford to make.
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Mistake No. 2: Not using the most current version of Google Analytics tracking code.
If you select Google Analytics as your analytics solution, make sure to install the most current version of the tracking code. When new analytics features are created, they may not be retroactively compatible with anything but the latest version of the tracking code. At the time of this writing, the asynchronous snippet is the most recent version of the Google Analytics tracking code.
The additional benefit of making the switch from old to new is to improve the overall performance of your site’s page load time. For more information on the Google asynchronous snippet and how to install it, read “Google Analytics Tracking Code and Page Speed,” a feature article in August’s SEO Newsletter by Bruce Clay, Inc.
Mistake No. 3: Not defining or tracking goals.
Understanding and defining what your goals are is the critical first step to measuring the success of your online campaign. The following definition of goals with regards to analytics is straight from Google:
“Goals (with a capital G) are a way to measure business objectives for your website in Google Analytics. Goals must correspond to a measurable action performed by your website’s visitors, for example, a visit to a ‘thank you’ page. This combination of a business objective and a measurable action make up a Goal.”
Set up your website’s goals right the first time in analytics. There are innumerous ways to track goals in Google Analytics, but some are more accurate than others. Google Analytics offers a wealth of resources on setting up goals in the Analytics Help section and in the Google Analytics blog.
Mistake No. 4: Not testing your goals once they have been set up.
Never, ever assume that once your goals are set up in Google Analytics that they will work. Test your goals and make sure that they are tracking how and what you had intended them to track. This extra precautionary step could prevent you from potentially loosing valuable data necessary for the success of your Internet venture.
Mistake No. 5: Not defining KPIs for your Internet marketing campaigns.
Are you beginning an SEO project, a PPC campaign or running split-testing for pages of your site? Each campaign can have different key performance indicators based on what type of Internet business model you are targeting. A KPI is a metric that helps you track how you are doing with your objectives/goals. By defining your site’s KPIs, you will also be able to evaluate the return on investment for each type of Internet marketing campaign that your company decides to engage in.
Mistake No. 6: Not mining your analytics data.
Even after having analytics installed, many companies choose to ignore the hidden treasures buried within their analytics data. As a measurement of comparison, it’s safe to say that analytics can be the silent CFO of your company, providing you with valuable insight into the inner workings and ROI of your online business. By mining the data of your website, you can find answers to questions such as:
• Who is my target audience(s)?
• What are they looking for on my site?
• Did they find what they were looking for?
• Why did they come to my site?
• How did they find my site?
• What did they like about my site?
• What can I improve on my site?
Having a system in place that tracks your website’s metrics and someone who understands how to decipher those metrics can be the difference in making or breaking your business. If you look at any Fortune 500 business model that has a Web presence, you would be hard pressed to find one company that does not track and measure the success of its online campaigns with some form of analytics reporting tools.
Learn from the success of business models that have proven track records, and don’t make the common analytics mistakes that will cost you.