They say a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Well a lot of knowledge can be equally perilous when it comes to using web-analytics. They can tell you an enormous amount about who is using your website and how they’re using it. The trouble is with that myriad of data comes the problem of sifting the useful information from the chaff. Without a solid strategy for what a business wants to achieve it’s easy to drown in a mass of data without adding any real value. Here are some tips on how to ensure your analytics add value.
What do you want to achieve?
Just looking at data doesn’t improve anything but it does soak up time. Be clear about why you want to look at analytics figures before you start. What are the business goals you want to reach. How will you increase your website’s contribution to those goals. It is legitimate to specify an analytics project to guide where development focus should be but there should always be a question with a business goal behind it. Be clear what your website (and your business) is about then decide what to focus on.
What are the measures that matter?
Ask what you need to know to guide and measure your improvement efforts. Focus on business goals and choose metrics that directly measure the delivery of them. If you can not say what action you will take to improve your bottom line based on a metric then you don’t need that metric. Metrics that you will act on are important, metrics that don’t lead to action are chaff – discard them. This is especially important for the things you can’t change. There is no value measuring problems that you’re not going to fix. Less is definitely more.
What’s the long term plan?
Web-analytics isn’t a one off exercise. The changes you make may not deliver the results you expected. The changes may take time to bed in (particularly if you’re trying to improve you search engine ranking). Whatever you do to get to where you want to be probably won’t keep you there. If you want maintain successes then you need to ensure there’s a long term plan of monitoring and improvement. Maintaining position may require less effort than getting there but that’s all the more reason to ensure that maintenance is properly planned. Schedule regular reviews of the output of web-analytics and each time question whether you still have the right metrics.
It’s true that what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done, but too much measurement can cause a data-paralysis where nothing is achieved. With the vast array of data, tools and service providers available a web-analytics exercise can easily fail to translate into improvement. Having a clear strategy and goals, defining a manageable number of valuable metrics and creating a long term approach to web-analytics are essential for success. If you’d like advice on how web-analytics could be used to help you improve your web-presence contact eSlice today.