Businesses run on numbers and startups are no exception. In fact, with the right analytics package, a web-based business has a huge competitive advantage in being able to track the various numbers that go along with running a company. You can get a much clear picture of which of your marketing efforts are really paying off, where problems pop up in your sales process and much more.
Going Deep with Analytics
Most of us install Google Analytics on any website we set up as a matter of course. But I know I’m guilty of not going beyond checking the number of visitors that I get on a given site, at least at first. On the surface, Google Analytics offers just a few easy ways to look at information about your visitors. But if you’re willing to invest time into setting it up, beyond pasting some code into your HTML, you can get a lot more than just where in the world your visitors are coming from.
The big factor that we all need to be concerned with is the rate of conversion. Just what a conversion is can depend, but it amounts to a visitor to your site doing something you want them to. That could be making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter or donating money. The goal of any good analytics software is to track that conversion rate and help you figure out where you can improve it. That requires a lot more than just looking at the number of visitors to your site.
The intermediate level of analytics tracking that we should aspire to with each project is to set up our analytics so that we can track conversions. In most cases, that involves setting up a page that our converted users land on after taking whatever action we’re hoping for. That’s because analytics tools track visitors to individual pages — the easy way to calculate your conversions is to track the number of visitors to a page that they can’t reach without taking that action.
More advanced categories of analytics include a/b testing — tweaking your site to see what impact it has on your conversions. Most of us tend to run out of time when we hit this level, but there is a lot of opportunity to make your site better.
Learning the Nuts and Bolts of Analytics
I rely mostly on Google Analytics, personally, and I’ve learned how to use it primarily by reading the help materials. I have yet to purchase a book on how to use any analytics tool. That’s because most of the software you might use have fairly in-depth tutorials available. The hard part is learning what you need to be tracking and how to actually make use of the data you gather. Two blogs in particular routinely post useful suggestions on how to get the most out of your analytics.
Awaken Your Superhero: Christopher Penn blogs regularly about marketing, which includes quite a few posts on determining how effective your marketing strategies are through analytics. He has an entire category of posts on metrics.
Occam’s Razor: Avinash Kaushik gets into the techincal details of analytics. In particular, start with his Beginner’s Guide To Web Data Analysis: Ten Steps To Love & Success and Web Analytics 101: Definitions: Goals, Metrics, KPIs, Dimensions, Targets.
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