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Actionable Analytics – All These Numbers, Now What?

I’ve had a number of clients tell me, “I looked in my Analytics for about three hours yesterday and it was really cool, but I don’t know what I learned.” Do you suffer from from ERH (Eyes Rolling into Head) when you look at the multitude of reports in analytics? Most marketers do. It’s great to have all of this data, but it’s paralyzing as well. Where do you start?

Do you have BOGs — Business Outcome Goals?

The first question you need to ask yourself is, “What are the desired business outcome goals for your site?” These need to be clearly defined; otherwise, the review of your website analytics will be pointless.

Here’s what you need to do:

Set 2-5 clearly stated business outcome goals
Examples include getting newsletter signups, white paper downloads or leads from a contact form.

Assign dollar values to each goal, and input them into analytics
Next, figure out how much each conversion is worth. Different business goals will have different dollar values.

For instance, if you know your sales team can close one in ten leads from the contact form for a $200 sale, then each lead is worth $20 ($200 divided by 10). Make these goals as real to actual dollar values as you can.

There are some strong benefits to assigning dollar values:

  • You can review each post and page and see its overall value in relation to business outcome goals.  For instance, Google Analytics calculates how many readers went on to complete one of your desired business outcomes after reading a post.
  • You will be able to report ROI figures to C-Level executives.
  • You will be able to gauge each link and referring site source on your site by how well it performs in dollars and cents.

Periodically review your analytics
Evaluate the dollar value of top content pages and keywords. When one of these shows a higher value, it means that a visitor entering via a keyword or viewing a particular page was more likely to “convert” (complete a desired business goal).

Analytics will calculate these values for you automatically based on the goal values you set up earlier, so try to get them as close to real world values as possible.  Yes, this means that the MarCom staff needs to interact with sales in order to learn what percentage of leads they are closing, but don’t worry. That teamwork will pay off for both departments and the company itself.

Focus like a laser on engaged visitors

When pouring over stats for many different clients, a pattern emerges from those visitors that engage with your content.“Engaged visitors” are defined as those who view 3 or more pages at your site, and  they are more likely to make an authentic connection with you and your brand, which equates to a higher likelihood of a sale.

These engaged visitors are the most important visitors at your site, and you should learn what they are doing and not doing–and take appropriate action. Set up an “Advanced Segment”  in Google Analytics to track this. (Learn more about Advanced Segments by watching this Google Video).

One common pattern you may observe is a visitor who views with content, then either immediately moves closer to authentic content (downloads a whitepaper, signs up for a newsletter), or leaves to return later and make the next step.
Engaged Visitors KPI
Above (click to enlarge), we are looking at metrics showing regular visitors to engaged.

How to Avoid ERH — Eyes Rolling into Head

Once armed with information about your engaged visitors, create a custom report. Below is a custom report example designed to help us focus only on key performance indications (KPIs) quickly.
 Page Engagement KPI
Above (click to enlarge) is a custom report designed to show what content is engaging well and yielding good value based on the BOGs for your site.

For instance, the custom report above highlights some KPI’s for a magazine site:

  • Number of unique visitors
  • Bounces (did too many leave right away?)
  • Pageviews
  • Time on site (are they engaging?)
  • Value per visit per goal.

This is just one example of custom reports you can set up in Google Analytics. Note that you may select other KPI’s to track such as:

  • Returning visitors
  • New visitors
  • Top content by title
  • Top content by keywords

Hat tip to Avinash Kaushik for the excellent books and  blog,  Occam’s Razor. You will find some benchmark reports Avinash has posted which you may modify to suit the goals and parameters of your own sites.

Now that you know what you are looking for and have set up your analytics, you can turn your analysis to actionable tasks. Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll explain what you can do with all fo this information you have collected.

Have you tried this approach or does it sound like something that would help? Share your experiences and ask your questions in the comments.

Other posts in this series: