Date Posted: October 25, 2017Reading time: 6 minutes
You’ve probably heard the phrase “that which doesn’t get measured can’t be improved”.
This rings especially true when it comes to a website. Your website is often one of the most important and useful tools for communicating with your audience and delivering a positive experience. And yet, website updates are often made without considering what the data is saying, commonly because there is no data available to drive these decisions. While it can be challenging to identify what isn’t working or where you’re losing your audience, improvements can always be made when data guides the way.
Google Analytics is a free tool that can help you understand what visitors to your site are doing (or in some cases, not doing). With hundreds of reports and thousands of metrics, this tool can be intimidating at first. But as complex as it is, answers can easily be found when you know which reports and metrics impact your objectives.
Everything you do should positively contribute to an objective. The following framework will guide you as you break down your objective into strategies and tactics. It will also help you understand at a micro-level which strategies are adding the most value to your bottom line, and which can be improved. This framework combines methods used by Google, principals from The Lean Startup, and is influenced by Avinash Kaushik’s web analytics methodology.
Let’s use a hypothetical case study to show you how this framework functions. In this example, The Cooking Corner is an online store that sells curated cooking products and guides.
Defining your objective requires more thinking than you might anticipate. It’s important to properly define the objective because it gives direction to your website efforts. Think of it like this: if you have a broken compass, you’ll likely never reach your destination.
Tip: Avoid tying your objective directly to making money. It may be what we want to do, but making money as an objective is not sustainable and does not drive strategic action. Instead, come up with a customer-centric objective that guides all of your strategies to benefit your audience. Making money requires an audience that you will need to attract and retain. If you’re not focused on them, they won’t care about you or your business. And that’s definitely no way to make money.
The Cooking Corner defines their objective as:
“To help busy people enjoy healthy eating through innovative products and guides.”
This step is all about honing your focus to identify all current and possible strategies to accomplish the objective you previously defined. You may already be doing multiple things to get there – trying to generate leads, attract new audiences, keep current ones, or make your employees happy and feel empowered. All of these are strategies that can fulfill your objective.
The Cooking Corner defines their strategies as:
This is where you can begin getting more granular by specifically defining which tactics you will implement on the website, and which marketing efforts to use to make that strategy successful. There is no limit to how many tactics you can implement for a strategy, but each strategy should have at least one active tactic.
This exercise will help you understand which strategies you are putting the most effort into and which may not be getting enough attention. Having more tactics for one strategy over another is neither good or bad, but this framework will provide you with the information to identify where gaps may exist.
The Cooking Corner defines their tactics as:
Each tactic you’ve listed will need a metric—or set of metrics—that will tell you how successful it is. KPIs are commonly used to define these important metrics, and each KPI will depend on the functionality of your website.
For example: A KPI for an ecommerce website might be the revenue generated. Or for a content publishing strategy, the KPI might be engagement level or visitation frequency.
One of the most relevant ways to define targets for your KPIs is to make them more tangible, by understanding how they affect your bottom line.
Think of it like this: If you know that you get 5 leads for every 1 customer, and you need 5 new clients a month to reach your growth target, then you could set your target to attracting 25 leads a month. You could also look at the same example and decide that you want to improve the conversion rate. Instead of converting 20% of your leads, you might work toward converting 40%.
Tip: If this is your first time going through this activity, identifying targets for each KPI can be challenging. Try using historical data or industry benchmarks. Don’t worry about setting a target perfectly – targets can be changed at any time if they become too easy to achieve or too challenging to reach.
There are many ways to segment the data for a deeper understanding of your customers and their behaviours. Basic segments, like the marketing channel that brought them to the site, the device they are using, or demographics, can all be helpful to analyze. But if you’re looking for a slightly more complex way to segment the data, try creating cohorts of people based on their behaviours, like people who made a purchase, or people who have downloaded your app and used it X-number of times.
Ultimately, there are infinite ways to segment data, which is why you need to identify and define the most relevant segments for you and your KPIs.
There will always be room to improve and optimize your newly created measurement framework, but hopefully now you have a better understanding of which data points matter, as well as what to look for within Google Analytics.