By Ahava Leibtag published August 9, 2011

The Analytics Dictionary: Demystifying Analytics Reports for Your Clients

If you are truly an effective content marketer consultant, at least 25 percent of your job is educating your clients about the digital marketplace. Clients look to you to clarify how things really work  in cyberspace, and if you are good at your job, you take that seriously.

One area where my clients have a lot of questions is with analytics. Even when they are digital experts, it’s common for me to have to explain what the different benchmarks in analytics packages really mean.

Pick something real and relatable when explaining analytics

Fully explaining analytics would require more than one article; in fact, I have an SEO PowerPoint presentation on the topic that is 124 slides. However, here are some definitions of common SEO terms and how to explain them to clients. A great way to explain a website is to compare it to a printed book. I have found clients appreciate having real-world comparisons to help them visualize concepts in the digital world.

Because setting up the understanding is important, an introduction like the following can be really helpful:

“Analytics can be really confusing  especially when you are not used to thinking in these terms. Analytics are like ratings for your website, and they help you capture the effectiveness of your content. I’ve found it’s helpful to think of your website like a book when thinking about analytics.”

After the introduction, I hand out a sample analytics report and walk through each of the following terms:

  • Landing page: This is the page on which your visitor starts engaging with your site. Think of opening a book to page 99 ­— that is the landing page.
  • Unique visitors: This is the number of people who visit within a certain date range. Think of this as a library: If four different people check out a book in the month of July, then there are four unique visitors for that book. Because each computer that accesses a website has its own unique ISP address to identify the user, your analytics package can record when a site visitor returns. This eliminates any concern about the validity of the unique visitor metric.
  • Visits: This is the number of times users come to any page on your site. In the book world, this would translate to the number of times any of your visitors open the book, even if it is only to read one page.
  • Page views: This is the number of pages viewed  by a unique visitor during one site visit. In book world, this would be akin to how many pages were read by a reader during one interaction with the book.
  • Bounce rate: This is the percentage of visitors who come to one page and leave. In the book world, the visitor opened to page 99 and then closed the book without reading any other pages. (Important note: The bounce rate is often the metric clients get most stuck on, and I find it important to explain its duality of purpose. If you have a high bounce rate for an essential conversion page, then something is probably not right. But if you have a high bounce rate for a contact us page where the most important piece of content is, (such as a phone number), then you’ve probably designed the page perfectly for the given content. Just remember, your website has an average bounce rate, and that number can be misleading depending on your ratio of conversion pages to single-purpose pages like the contact us page.)
  • Exit rate: This is the percentage of users who exit after they have  looked at two or more pages. In book world, this would translate to the number of times a customer looks at two or more pages in the book and then closes it.
  • Conversion: This is a completed goal on the site. It could be an action such as downloading a document, buying a product or entering information into a lead generation tool. In the book world, this might be akin to doing an activity or action specified by the book. To maximize conversions, it’s best to define your conversion goal before writing or building that page.

I’m curious. Please tell me how do you explain analytics to your clients?

Author: Ahava Leibtag

Based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Ahava Leibtag is a Web content strategist and writer. She leads AHA Media Group, a Web and content consulting firm, and authors the blog Online it ALL Matters. She thinks 60 words is way too few to communicate why she’s interesting. You can connect with Ahava on Twitter at @ahaval.

Other posts by Ahava Leibtag

  • http://www.thepdgroup.com Emma Rose

    I do 2 things: a base report, which is formed of stats that my client has had explained to them in the initial instance, and stats to be timelined for easy understanding visually. The second thing is a month-to-month report which is entirely centred around monitoring that directly relates to any campaigns or marketing efforts going on for the client for this month. I give each report section subheadings, a notes column for quick reference to meanings of words like “all visits” in comparison to “unique visitors”. Summary points are made under each heading or section. Each month to month report structure is a collaborative process, where my client will see the production of the report structure, make their own changes, sign it off, and this ensures all is understood. My 2p worth :)

  • http://www.thepdgroup.com Emma Rose

    I do 2 things: a base report, which is formed of stats that my client has had explained to them in the initial instance, and stats to be timelined for easy understanding visually. The second thing is a month-to-month report which is entirely centred around monitoring that directly relates to any campaigns or marketing efforts going on for the client for this month. I give each report section subheadings, a notes column for quick reference to meanings of words like “all visits” in comparison to “unique visitors”. Summary points are made under each heading or section. Each month to month report structure is a collaborative process, where my client will see the production of the report structure, make their own changes, sign it off, and this ensures all is understood. My 2p worth :)

  • http://www.thepdgroup.com Emma Rose

    I do 2 things: a base report, which is formed of stats that my client has had explained to them in the initial instance, and stats to be timelined for easy understanding visually. The second thing is a month-to-month report which is entirely centred around monitoring that directly relates to any campaigns or marketing efforts going on for the client for this month. I give each report section subheadings, a notes column for quick reference to meanings of words like “all visits” in comparison to “unique visitors”. Summary points are made under each heading or section. Each month to month report structure is a collaborative process, where my client will see the production of the report structure, make their own changes, sign it off, and this ensures all is understood. My 2p worth :)

  • Johnn Four

    I have a regular dashboard report. Then I look for an interesting stat, hopefully something’s that’s unusual, and do a deep dive on it. Then I try to tell the story of that deep dive. In this way, each report highlights one or two stats and definitions.

  • Terrans

    I do not think every client wants to know the details of analytics techniques. It is part of the marketer job to be able to manipulate the web site based on the analytics results. The clients are happy when they get the calls from their web sites’ visitors not looking at graphs and lines. I loved your article explanation about the metrics. Thanks
     
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  • http://blog.openviewpartners.com/blog/the-open-marketer Amanda Maksymiw

    Ahava,
    Nice post.  In the past we have shared our sample dashboards with our portfolio companies so they can use them as a guide or model.  We’ve found that it always helps to have an example!