It used to be said that data made every digital marketers life easier. In the last 12 months, this has almost certainly extended to include all marketers as the data helps us report on successes, losses and more importantly find any disrupters stopping users from getting in touch, or making a purchase.
There are hundreds of free and paid tools available. From a tracking perspective, Google Analytics is by far the most popular within the western world with estimates of 30-50 million websites using the service worldwide. In China, Google Analytics is one of the only Google products that isn’t blocked behind “The Great Firewall” however, data is often slow to be transferred and intermittent at times. Baidu the Chinese search engine offers its own version of Google Analytics named “Baidu Tongji”.
It doesn’t matter what Analytics tool you are using; without customisation your data will mean nothing. You won't be able to align it to your commercial objectives, or report on your successes. The key with data is knowing what to do with it and when, and in many respects - all quantitative data needs to be balanced with qualitative too.
Ultimately, too much non-contextualized data can mean that your data is skewed and too little won’t give you any insight into how your website is performing.
Tracking and reporting for your business
This gets asked all the time - “How well is my site performing for me?”
The perception of “performance” of any site is usually down to that person’s individual goals. A copywriter will have a different perception of performance to an e-commerce manager or a Head of Digital whose key focus is to make sure that commercial objectives are being hit.
Everyone has their own KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). A copywriter may be tasked with increasing the amount of visits to the blog or news area of the site. However, this will mean little to Directors and senior decision makers whose interest lie solely in the commercial objectives e.g How many leads or sales have been generated by the website. This is a great example of how the essence of marketing has been forgotten and the need for multiple touch-points to influence individuals in making an action.
The problem lies where all of these people will have to report on their individual goals. If all outcomes are measured with goal completions. The goal completion data will become inflated and loses focus on the commercial goals.
What is also important is to understand the purpose of your site in the first place. An e-commerce site should be designed with transactional goals in mind throughout. The user journey needs to be simple, concise and easy to purchase. Compare this to a website for a manufacturing company who have a very niche audience of clients that may use their products. Having a website is still just as valid, but its purpose and role is significantly different, as is the data contained within it.
So how do you keep everyone happy?
You need to start by defining the difference between a goal and a KPI.
A goal is the completion of an intended action by a user whereas a KPI is a measurement of progress towards a specific goal. An example of a KPI is the amount of users who visited the contact page, where a goal is the amount of people who filled in the contact form.
Within Analytics there is a limit to the number of Goals available to track. Don’t be tempted to use all of them. You will skew your data set and make it impossible for people to interpret.
To keep everyone happy, use the custom dashboard functionality. Creating dashboards will allow users to access data aligned to their individual KPI’s.
Here’s some inspiration.
Head of Digital
As a senior member of staff, it is very rare that this role will be interested in metrics such as pages per session or average session duration. Primarily, there main focus will be toward the top level commercial gains the site is bringing.
A dashboard could consist of:
- Revenue/Leads per channel
- PPC Cost/ ROI
- Top Level Traffic Levels
- Newsletter Sign Ups
A copywriter will be looking at how many times their content has been viewed? How users behave on their blog? Has their blog driven any conversions? The easiest way to look at the blog in silo is by using the content grouping functionality within analytics.
A dashboard could consist of:
- Blog landing pages by sessions
- Blog landing pages by goal completions/ assisted conversions/ revenue
- Blog landing pages by page value
An e-commerce manager will be interested in the granular details. They will want to focus on getting the most ROI.
A dashboard could consist of:
- Average CPC/CPA
- Revenue per channel
- Revenue by source
- Revenue by product category
- Top performing products
- PPC Cost/ROI
These techs will want to find ways to optimise the amount of ROI from existing traffic. They will be looking for disrupters in the user journey and usually use a range of tools in combination with Analytics data.
A dashboard could consist of:
- Landing pages with the highest bounce rates
- Landing pages with the lowest average session duration
- Goal Funnel visualisation
- Page load speeds against bounce rates
- Device by bounce rate
There is a limit of 12 widgets per dashboard and a limit of twenty dashboards within Google Analytics. Prioritise and remove the nice to haves to ensure you are getting the most of your data.
Defining your data
As consumers, we now have access to a huge array of options when it comes to buying a product or service. The internet allows us to compare products, prices and services within seconds. This now means that potential customers interact with your website multiple times before making a purchase or enquiring about a service.
The higher value the product or service, the more considered the choice for purchase points. This usually means that there will be a longer lag time, and more interactions with the site before the point of purchase. This means we need to nurture users throughout the buying purchases using micro and macro conversions across a multiple of channels. This is where the dynamic nature of websites becoming more personalized based on behaviour is becoming standardised and is a great example of where we are seeing a significant increase with bots.
Micro & Macro Conversions Conversions
A macro conversion is a behaviour that results in a sale or enquiry. A micro conversion is another interaction with the website that does not result in a sale or enquiry. A micro conversion could be a newsletter signup, registering an account or sign up for a free trial.
By tracking both micro and macro conversions, we are able to visualize the micro conversions that trigger in a macro-conversions.
As mentioned previously users interact with your website multiple times. And interact with your brand off page multiple times before making a purchase or enquiring with the site. This means that you cannot look at a channel or a source in silo.
Google Analytics will attribute the enquiry or sale to the channel with the last click. This means that the full value of your email campaign or paid campaign is not available within the usual channel report.
Google analytics can give us an overview of behaviour. However, to fully understand an individual's user journey third party tracking such as MixPanel should be integrated with the website.
Understand the user paths. The conversion paths report below shows that Paid search is often the first point of interaction users have, they then return to make purchases via another source for this website.
Purchases are not always instant. As mentioned above, the higher the value of a product or service the more times a user interacts with the website. The below chart shows that over 30% of visitors take 2 or 3 interactions to convert. It also shows that users take up to 7 interactions to convert.
In the below example paid advertisement has assisted in 38 other conversions since the start of the year. These conversions were not attributed to the paid source. Therefore the revenue from paid activity does not include the indirect conversions attributed elsewhere. To get an accurate measurement of ROI it is essential to include the assisted conversions.
Google Analytics will only give you so much data.
At Rawnet we use a multitude of third party tracking tools to give us more data about user behaviour on websites. Google Analytics will only give you numbers on how many sessions have hit the page, how many users bounced and other metrics. It does not tell you how users are behaving on the page where their mouse moves to, how far they scroll or if they picked up the telephone and called you on their mobile.
We use heat mapping and recording software to help us visualize data. The form tracking functionality within HotJar highlighted a major issue with one of the forms on a website. With 59 interactions with a contact form and one successful submission there was a clear issue.
Software like response tap allows you to track where your calls come from. It works by assigning alias numbers to the main number. This means calls from offline and online marketing activity can be more accurately tracked.
However, there are still limitations to accuracy as users may have viewed a display ad on a third party website then be prompted by an offline marketing campaign to call or vice versa.
Steps to being data happy
- Define your websites commercial objectives
- Split the objectives into micro and macro conversions
- Define content groups and set up within analytics
- Create dashboards for each individual's data needs.
- Analyse and define user behaviour patterns within analytics (assisted conversions)
- Use third party tracking such as heatmaps to see scroll/click behaviour