Introduction To Analytics

Let’s start this section by asking ‘what are analytics in relation to websites? It used to be called Web Stats, short for Web Statistics and that’s basically what it means. When we think analytically, we’re basically looking at the study of data. I appreciate that it sounds very dull, but it’s actually really important and when it relates to how people are using your website and ultimately how you attract new business and therefore more profits, then it can start to get interesting.

Having data on how your website is used gives you information on what has previously happened, so that you can predict what will happen in the near future. This gives you knowledge to inform changes to your website and as you start to make these changes, you can clearly see the impact. You can say “I did this and achieved that as a result”.

In this way analytics become your dashboard. You wouldn’t set off on a road trip across Europe without having a dashboard in the car. If you did, you wouldn’t know when you were running low on fuel, if you were keeping within the speed limit or if you had your lights on full beam. This is essentially the same as using analytics to inform you of what’s actually taking place with your online marketing. I say Online Marketing, as analytics can now provide data on how many people are visiting your website from your social media pages, or via your Pay-Per-Click Campaign, so it is broader than just your website.

It is most likely that you have heard people talking about Google Analytics, so why do we specifically use Google Analytics? First of all, it’s a free tool from Google. If you would rather use other options, you could spend money putting other analytics on or you could e use Web Log type statistics. Let’s talk about those two first and then we will come back to Google Analytics.

So, the Web Log type stats; it’s a free option but it provides raw data without any graphs or other visuals, so for many people it can be more of a challenge to interpret the data. Unless you love number crunching, then Web Log stats maybe not the best thing to use for analytics. The other option is to pay for stats. The paid options certainly provide good and detailed information and some people prefer to use alternatives to Google, in which case you might want to pay for this information. Google sits in the middle offering a free service, with a good range of data. It is presented in a variety of visual ways which make it easier for most people to understand. It also offers options to make comparisons which can help with mapping progress pre and post an action (such as a campaign being launched).

You will need to make the right decision for your company however for the rest of this section; I’m going to be referring to Google Analytics. As I’m talking about analytics at the concept level and not in detail, the same information applies no matter which package you are using.

So, to make the data you gather through Google Analytics of value, what you need to be looking at is trends rather than numbers. You see, if I said to you that you’ve got a hundred people coming to your website this month, what does that mean? But if I said to you, you’ve got double the number of people coming to your website this month than you had last month, immediately you can interpret what that means. It means you’ve done something right and more people are finding your website. You’ll find out what the usual daily or monthly numbers for your website are and what counts as a magic number in your company as you progress with your own analytics. Google Analytic provides you with a lot of graphs and visual data that makes it easier to look at trends and see how your website is performing.

Whilst there is a lot of data provided in Google Analytics it is important to focus your attention on some specific information that will be valuable to you. If you try to look at everything, you could spend weeks upon weeks just studying information, but that’s not going to help your business and is likely to leave you feeling overwhelmed and unlikely to make it part of your regular business analysis.

Keep it simple and start with one or two details. Once you have monitored these, taken action if the data suggests it is needed and gained confidence in how to read and use the data, you can always expand your area of focus.

As we go through the sections in this module, I want you to look at the things that might be particularly relevant to your business. It might be that your Bounce Rate, which we’ll talk about shortly, is a key factor in understanding whether you’re going to be successful. If that’s the case, then that becomes a key metric for you. For others that might not be relevant at all and they may be interested in data on exit pages.

For the rest of the module, we’re going to talk about things that relate to Google Analytics. Just bear in mind that it could be any package because we’re talking about concept levels.