Skip to main content

The Reason Analytics Are Misunderstood

When it comes to the standing out in the marketing world, one of the best tools to help you reach your goals — whether its boosting website traffic, increasing average session duration, or improving conversions — is analytics. But, the truth is, most marketers don’t have a solid grasp on how to best decipher and use Google analytics — or data analysis — as a whole.

Misunderstood Metrics

According to Eric Peterson, author of Web Analytics Demystified, “Only 8% of companies worldwide are taking a process-oriented approach towards web analytics, but, in my experience, process is the key to both success and achieving positive and recurring return on investment from web analytics technology and staff.”

In April 2007, over 1,000 analytics practitioners, consultants and end-users worldwide took part in Peterson’s survey. Here are some of their findings:

  •  82% of respondents said analytics was poorly understood in their organizations and that most people interacting with web data did not understand what it meant.
  • Over half (56%) said web analytics was difficult, despite the majority of respondents having at least two years of experience with these technologies and 23% having more than five years of experience.
  • 65% said their organizations were using analytics to make tactical or strategic decisions.

Demystifying Data Analysis

So, what are some ways we can improve our grasp on data analytics and make sure they’re working for us?

#1 Research Popular Metrics

Understanding what data means is the first step towards allowing data collection to shed light on areas that we need to improve or areas that are already doing well. To get the complete picture, it’s important to get familiar with some of the common metrics other marketers use when assessing their traffic sources.

Some of these include:

  • Users. Users and active users metrics show how many users engaged with your site
  • Bounce rate. Measures the number of users who enter a website and exit without visiting any other page on the website.
  • Exit rate. Exit rate measures the number of users who leave a site or app from a specific page.
  • Sessions. This tracks the set of interactions made by a single user so you can better track total unique users.
  • Average session duration. Measures the duration of a user’s total time on your website.
  • Percentage of new sessions. Measures the percentage of sessions attributed to new visitors to your website.
  • Sessions by channel. Tracks the number of sessions during a specific data range, categorizing those sessions by organic search traffic, social, or referral information.
  • Pages per session. Counts a site’s total page views divided by the total number of sessions.
  • Goal completions. Measures number of users who complete a specific goal (e.g. subscribes to a mailing list, clicks a link, etc.)
  • Page views. Tracks the total number of pages viewed.
  • Page views by page. Measures the total number of times certain web pages viewed over a period of time.

#2 Understand Your Goals

When you don’t have a solid understanding on what you want to achieve, or you haven’t outlined goals or areas of improvement, it’s difficult to know what analytics to implement and track.

So, first things first: make sure to outline your most desired outcomes and align them with the most useful metric. This could be improving direct traffic or increasing average time spent on a page. It could be lowering bounce rate or improving a high exit rate for a particular page or website. Whatever your goals may be, it’s important to get really clear on them so you can allow the data to start telling you a story.

Google analytics uses specific goals to track how a user fulfills target objectives. For example, trackable user metrics within Google include:

  1. Destination. Identifying where/when users go to a specific landing page, blog post, or other location.
  2. Duration. Measuring the average session duration.
  3. Pages/screens per session. Tracking the number of pages a user visits each session.
  4. Event category. Identifying a desired action or actions which trigger an event (e.g. watching a video, clicking a link, signing up for an email marketing list).

#3 Use Strategic Planning to Strategize Your Data Analysis

To truly demystify data you have to see data in action. This is a whole lot easier when you’ve done the leg work we discussed above. Why? Because you’ll have a better understanding how to connect the data with specific actions to see the big picture.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Identify the person, people, or team responsible for your analytics strategy.
  2. Map out the metrics which best align with your top priority.
  3. Research the analytics tools and systems (e.g. Google analytics metrics, Hubspot, Meta Business Suite, etc) that best align with your budget and end goals.
  4. Integrate your strategy into your daily, monthly, and yearly processes.
  5. Review standard reports, assess statistics, and adjust as needed.

Final Thoughts

Figuring out what data is statistically significant and what’s not can feel a bit tricky at first. But just like anything, the more you dig in and experiment, the more it’ll begin to make sense.

Here are some tips, modified and expounded upon from Web Analytics Demystified recommendations on making better use of analytics data:

1. Recognize that analytics is not easy – Don’t waste time with internal log file analysis and analytics AND for Pete’s sake… be PATIENT! Give it a few months before you start seeing data that can be used in web site usage growth and to show a positive ROI.

2. Simplify reports – Most people inside organizations do not understand web analytics data, so it needs to be put into a format that is customized to your client and their goals.

3. Re-evaluate the depth at which analytics is used, if at all, and work toward the ‘strategic use of web analytics’ to further enhance your marketing dollar.

4. Invest in dedicated resources like outside consultants to manage web analytics systems and produce high-quality analysis.

Looking for some insight into how to optimize your seo and get your google ads campaign off the ground? Our digital marketing partner and seo/ppc guru, Local Blitz is well versed in the many strategies to make sure you win a better ad position, time and time again, all while reaching more potential customers. If you’re looking for help with your local search engine optimization, Nick Bennett at Local Blitz is one of the co-founders and happens to be one of our fav people. Give Nick a shout and tell him we sent you.