Today, with digital analytics, we can track a user across 3 devices and 15 channels, over an entire month, even if he is mainly using offline apps. (True story.)
The question is, how can you use this kind of data for your business? In order to draw the most value from digital analytics, where should you start?
It all begins with a solid digital analytics strategy that reflects your business’ unique challenges, needs and market context. By establishing the right approach, you’ll be sure that what you measure and analyse closely reflects your business goals. In doing so, you’ll get data that enables concrete actions – and business results.
Whether you are new to analytics or a veteran web analyst, it’s key to remember certain basics when it comes to designing a strategic tagging plan, or building dashboards that deliver truly actionable insights. Here are 4 business questions to ask when determining your digital analytics strategy:
1) What’s the purpose of my website, how do I generate profit?
Think about who you’re targeting and what you want them to do on your website. Depending on the answer, you’ll define your analytics plan to reliably track those goals. A few examples:
I want people to subscribe to my premium offer.
- Define the premium offer subscription page as a goal.
- Create a conversion funnel to this page in order to understand why and from where people subscribe.
I want to push certain types of ads or products, because I earn more money from them.
- Tag the actions linked to the ads (impression, clicks), create a heat map of the product page.
- Obtain the ratio of click per ad, click per impression, and use the best-performing zone on a page to push your product. Remove low-performing ad placements to improve user navigation.
Being able to say, “Modifying this part of the website or using this campaign instead of that one will help my business succeed!” should be the dream of all web analysts.
2) What are my KPIs?
Everything you tag and track on your website should lead to a KPI.
First, let’s take a step back and re-visit the definition of a key performance indicator (KPI):
“A KPI is a measurement that evaluates how well a company is executing its strategic vision.” (From the white paper “KPIs: Define and Act” by Jacques Warren… you’re in luck, you can download it here!)
KPIs come in numerous colours and flavours – there is no one-size-fits-all, universal KPI. Your business strategy should determine your KPIs – and those KPIs should determine your analytics strategy.
Going back to the implications on tagging, let’s take an example:
I have a classifieds website, one of whose KPIs is the number of clicks on ads’ “contact” buttons. In order to get people clicking on this button, I need the right balance between supply (product ads) and demand (people looking for these products). To ensure that supply and demand meet perfectly, I need to tag, track and optimise results pages, ad page performance, and the ad posting funnel, as just a few examples.
With this data, I learn that listings with 4 to 6 pictures have a better time-to-conversion than the others. I can now provide this information to users who publish ads, or even make it mandatory to use 4 to 6 pictures on every ad. In this way, my tagging and tracking directly support my KPI of “contact” clicks.
3) Can I take decisions from my analytics data?
There are so many tracking possibilities, so many segments to use, so many ways to display the data, that I dream of it at night (I don’t have a crazy life).
It’s easy to get lost in the data ocean.
But remember, when it comes to your analytics strategy, there’s no point in doing micro-analyses and super-detailed reporting if you don’t know how to use the data.
For instance, big data might be the future, and definitely something to look for if you have the resources, but starting with one weekly report containing five dashboards could be enough. (Especially if those dashboards are clear and actionable, allowing you to take decisions.)
In a simple world, a simple example could be summed up as:
As you see here, there’s one tricky element that can affect your KPIs, your tagging and tracking, and even your decisions: market trends and context.
4) What are the latest trends in my market?
Your analytics strategy must also incorporate external factors as much as possible: your market, current trends, overall context.
Let’s illustrate this through two tales:
1) A media company notices a trend with newsfeed apps.
Unfortunately, they hadn’t spotted it sooner via data analysis, because they were not paying attention to this format and didn’t tag this source. Bummer!
They tag and start to track newsfeed links more closely. Even if they don’t have many articles in the proper format, it seems they have a high ratio of users arriving via this source. So, the company starts to focus on newsfeed apps instead of lesser-performing sources, and begins developing a standard newsfeed app format for the editorial team.
Now, they have many readers who are always up-to-date on the latest news… and they lived happily ever after.
2) An e-commerce company plans to do a cross-platform analysis based on users’ email addresses and names.
They invest heavily in this tagging plan. But at the last minute, they learn it’s forbidden in their country to have and cross-verify this personal data in their analytics tool.
No happy ending here, just a waste of time and money.
The conclusion? Trends and context should help shape your approach to tracking.
For an effective web analytics strategy, be sure to ask yourself these questions from the start, and prepare and implement your tagging plan accordingly. Always keep in mind why you’re measuring, which will help you continuously refine your tracking and better support your KPIs and business decisions. And be sure to check back for part 2 of this article, where you’ll discover the basic benefits you’ll get from doing all we’ve just discussed.
A strong analytics strategy will help you get more target users on your website, and help them find what they want. You’ll know more precisely what they are looking for and, in consequence, be better equipped to provide it.
It’s a win/win situation, isn’t it?