1) Identify Goals
This is #1 when it comes to using a web analytics package effectively and it’s surprising the amount of web analytics accounts that I don’t see goals set up on. Take some time to think about what your website goal are.
Is there a defined page-to-page process that you’d like users to follow through on on your website? Are you keen to ensure that when visitors get to your site that they choose to further engage in your social media channels or is it that you want them to spend as much time as possible on the site? Whatever your website goal is- it’s vital that you spend time setting this up in your account so that you can make more informed decisions and swim quicker through that sea of data.
2) Think about Funnels
Following on from identifying goals, if you do happen to have a set number of defined pages that a user passes through before they reach the destination goal page (for example this might be the thank you for purchasing/thank you for contacting us/ thank you for subscribing page), it is important that these pages are identified as key steps in the run up to a goal.
In many business cases, especially in ecommerce sites- measuring your goal funnel is one of the most important things to track in your web analytics account in order to boost business success as it allows you to visualise where people are dropping off during the most important part of your site and help identify reasons why they may be doing so!
Note: in Google Analytics the option to set up a Goal Funnel is the very bottom option when setting up a URL destination goal.
3) Use Annotations to measure offline activity
Measuring cause and effect in any marketing campaign is vital but impact that offline campaigns offer are a little harder to measure with the lack of full tracking capabilities.
Given most offline campaigns have a call to action to go to the website to find out more, the onset of an offline campaign should see a subsequent lift in traffic to the website and (hopefully) subsequent sales from those incremental visits.
The simplest way to track offline impact on online visits via a web analytics package is through the use of annotations in your analytics account. Annotations allow you to add small daily notes in your account (similar to a time track).
The benefit of this is that by keeping a note of what you are doing offline in your web analytics account, means you can much easier identify the impact offline campaigns have in driving traffic. Include the time spots that offline campaigns are executed, map this across hourly break down in site visits and live in creative analysis heaven!
4) Use tracking parameters to measure online campaigns
Most web analytics packages are fantastic at automatically identifying online traffic source types, more recently this includes social traffic but what about traffic from email marketing campaigns, display campaigns and pay-per-click campaigns?
If you are using the Google Analytics package you can easily import your Adwords traffic into Google Analytics (this will be detailed in another post) but what if you are running a display campaign with a number of different ad formats on a number of different sites- how do you differentiate the different type of sources that your traffic is coming from? If you use SiteCatalyst then you’ll use SAINT (SiteCatalyst Attribute Importing and Naming Tool) to classify your traffic, with Google Analytics you’ll need to use the Google Analytics URL builder (more on how to use this later).
5) Ensure site search is set up
Have you a site search facility on your site? If so, then this could be one of the most important reports that your web analytics provides you with! However, most companies using Google Analytics are missing out since tracking (internal) site search in Google Analytics requires that you tell Google Analytics what your site search query parameter is under the profile settings.
How do you know what this is? Carry out a simple search on your site and in the resulting URL you’ll normally see the term that you’ve just searched with the search query parameter just before it.
For example, if I perform a search on Buddybeartrust.com for ‘fundraising’ the resulting page URL is:
In this case, (for this site) the search query parameter is ‘search_Query’ as it appears directly before the search query that I originally entered into the site. This means that when Google Analytics are reading all of the URL’s that are visited on the site and see ‘search_Query’ in any URL, it knows that the keywords after that is a term that has been searched on the site.
Once you enter the search query parameter, you’ll get a whole new view of what customers are looking for and expecting when they get to your site.