March 1, 2017
Effective Web Experiences Pt. 10: Analytics

You monitor the performance of your website to ensure you are delivering the best experience possible to your audiences. Web analytics measure, track, and report on website usage, including pages viewed, time on site, entry and exit pages, conversions and more. The information your analytics provide can be high-level, or you can dig deep and find critical insights.

We are close to the end of our series on creating effective web experiences and we knew that analytics was a critical topic to cover.

It takes time to set up analytics correctly, but it takes more time to monitor activity and performance actively and implement changes based on the insights provided.

"An analytics program can be used as a tool to help you get to know your users — who they are, where they are coming from, and how they use your site. Having access to information about your users helps you to make appropriate decisions about your site — whether those decisions apply to major redesigns or to ongoing tweaks and minor changes reflecting shifts in customer usage or in your own current programs and services." "Using Web Analytics Well" by Kate Marek, American Libraries, 2011. 

Key Steps, Tips, and Best Practices

Implementing and using analytics is a critical capability for the success of any web experience. Here are some useful tips and best practices to get you on the right path. 

  • Some Web CMS provide built-in analytics, but most integrate with analytics solutions such as Google Analytics, Omniture, and Webtrends. 
  • Set up click events and goals to track the viewing or downloading of website content such as whitepapers, ebooks, catalogs and other content, in addition to newsletter sign ups.
  • Examine search queries to see what type of information visitors are searching for. Use this information to move more important content into key locations, create more similar content and promote it widely.
  • Implement cohort reports to see how segments/audiences are converting
  • Track goal conversions by channel. It's important to know what channels your visitors are coming from and what channels are resulting in conversions. This information helps you build the right content and experiences for different channels.
  • Examine metrics such as time on page, bounce rates, entry and exit points, most popular pages. These metrics help you understand how customers and prospects use your website and what content is the most popular. They can also help you see problems that you need to resolve. 

Getting Help with Your Analytics Strategy

Google Analytics is probably the most widely used analytics platform, primarily because it provides a free version that offers all the functionality you need to do your analysis. But even if you don't use Google Analytics, you can take advantage of the training from Google Analytics Academy.

Another resource you should bookmark and read often is Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik. Kaushik is the author of two best-selling books on analytics, as well as Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google.

I'll leave you with a line from Kaushik's latest blog: "You live or die by the data you collect, and the quality of that data." It's critical you capture all the data you can on your website traffic and its visitors, then analyze, derive insights and make decisions that improve your web experience, and as a result, the experience of your visitors. A consistent web experience that provides a visitor the information they need drives conversions.

Posted by Dave Hillis
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