Back in November of 2005, Google launched the first Google-branded iteration of Google Analytics. One week later they promptly shut down registration. Why, you might ask? Demand, demand, demand. The service was immediately flooded with more interest and traffic than the intended platform could support.
Flash forward to 2016. While the service has been scaled and can now accommodate the millions upon millions of users and trillions of data points, the demand for it’s offering has not waned. In fact, the service is used by over 50% of the world’s most popular websites.
This year, Google even launched an enterprise version of the service called Google Analytics 360 Suite. The new service aims to integrate analytics tools, advertising tools, website data and machine learning campaigns all into a single platform for marketers and website owners. However, before these powerful tools can be fully leverage, we must first understand the stepping stones that create a beneficial and sustainable analytics plan.
Step 1 – Measurement Strategy
Mistake number one in any analytics plan is what we here at White Lion call a “Spray & Pray Campaign.” This style of analytics is where you, or your Ad agency, go through your website to write down all of the user interactions you want to track. This temptation leads to a messy assortment of analytics that aren’t aware of each other and aren’t working together. As a result, future steps in our analytics cycle become difficult and incapable of providing optimized insights. Instead, we recommend starting with a Measurement Strategy. As the first step in our framework, we take a broader approach to the analytics campaign.
Three Questions To Help Create Your Measurement Strategy:
- What are our business goals?
- How will we know if we are improving on our business goals?
- If we do or do not improve, what will we look at to determine the cause?
- Drive discovery and encourage brand loyalty.
- We will look at unique users, sessions, bounce rate, session length, re-purchases, and email sign-ups.
- We will determine the reasoning behind our success or failure by looking at traffic sources, referral paths, device categories, and user actions.
Example Answers in Diagram Form:
- The “Tactics” are our business goals.
- The “KPIs” are how we’re going to complete our business goals.
- The “Segments” show us why we succeeded or failed.
Step 2 – Implementation Plan
Now that we have our strategy, we need to implement our analytics. During this process, we attach events to user actions. These events are sent to Google as metrics and dimensions. We must sync the data we are sending with the metrics and dimensions that we wish to use during our analysis phase. The following implementation plan will be used by developers only. All others can continue to step 3.
Source: Google Analytics Academy
Step 3 – Analysis
We now have our analytics in place, our events being sent, and we are tracking user actions. Now it’s time to determine if we are meeting our goals set forth in our Measurement Strategy. This is where the real magic comes in. We can use our dimensions to see if we’ve met our metrics. For example, to determine if we drove discovery we can ask the following questions:
- Did our unique users and/or sessions dimension increase?
- Did we broaden our customer origination?
- Did we decrease our bounce rate?
Hey Marketing Folks: Why Stop There?
Depending on if our metrics trended as expected, we can determine why. More importantly, we can determine why not if needed.
- Users and sessions did not increase. Why?
- Which segments decreased? For this, we can look at traffic sources, device categories, etc.
- If desktop traffic increased, but mobile decreased, we can invest in our mobile user experience.
- We did not increase our customer origination. Why?
- Did any individual referrals increase? We can look at the traffic source to see if the problem is in our organic search referrals, Facebook referrals, etc.
- If search is the problem, we can invest in SEO and keyword optimization.
- If Facebook referrals declined, we can look to invest further in Facebook ads, or perhaps stop paying for them due to inefficiency.
- We decreased our bounce rate. Great, but why?
- That promo we added on page load increased user interest. Based on events fired, 74% of users clicked on the promo. Of these users, 26% completed a purchase.
Step 4 – Iterate
Once we have completed our analysis we can make changes to our website. This may include investment in various advertising outlets, SEO, or UI/UX changes. We can then repeat the process to determine their impact. We now have vision into the impact of our decisions. This process should be repeated until we meet and exceed our business goals. Then it should be repeated again.