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How to Develop Analytics Reports Your Team Will Want to Use

Do you want to use analytics more often to make decisions based on data instead of instinct? To do this, you not only need to have a good understanding of analytics, but you also need to present them to your team in a way that is useful to them.

Last week we looked at why analytics programs are important for helping teams make decisions based on real facts instead of hunches. We also looked at the first two steps to implementing a strong analytics program:

  1. Understand the critical pieces of information the team needs
  2. Train your teams in analytics so they understand what they really mean

Here are the next three steps that will help you and your team.

Step #3: Create reporting structures that work

Analytics can be fun, but you must structure your reports so they tell a story. Find a way to pull the highlights from the analytics so they narrate your digital content’s life in cyberspace. Use charts—by all means—but understand their value as a part of the story-making process.  Think about describing why content behaved the way it did. Nothing satisfies people more than the answer to the question, “Why did that happen?”

For example, consider a report with a short narrative at the top.  Pull out one example you’re trying to get at—like why users seem to bounce off one page so often.  Then use charts to express easily-understood concepts—like referring traffic or which keywords are bringing traffic to the site.

For instance,  you could provide a two-page report that includes this level of detail:

During the week of April 28, 2010, our page views went up, but unique visitors went down. This means that the number of visitors coming to the site decreased very slightly (.04%), but that the users who did come were looking at more pages with each visit.

Top keyword search terms included:

  1. Plumbing parts
  2. Plumbing supplies online
  3. Shop plumbing
  4. Plumbing parts depot
  5. Mini-vent plumbing vent

From there, you could have graphs that illustrate metrics such as these:

  • Most popular pages
  • Bounce rate
  • Top content sections

Step #4: Test your reports

Distribute your reports on a weekly basis, and use your first draft of reports for about a month. Notice if you are getting more or less feedback on analytics:

  • Are the reports coming up in conversations more often?
  • Is the team relying more on data from analytics rather than “gut instinct?”
  • Are you getting good questions that indicate the team is reading – and understanding – the reports?
  • What other pieces of information do they need?


Step #5: Refine the reports based on needs

As your team begins to grasp the full implications of the analytics, they will start asking different questions. They may begin to refine the types of information they need.  Maybe there is a different set of questions. Refine your reports once a quarter to better answer those questions. You may not need to change them at all; that’s ok too.

Analytics reports should inform and refine  your team’s thought processes around your digital content.  By implementing these five steps, you should really begin to see a difference in the quality of the questions your team needs to know about your digital content’s performance.

Do you use analytics in your organization? Do you find some of the same challenges we discussed above? Or are you experiencing something quite different?