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You have probably installed “whatever” web analytics application in order to monitor traffic to your web presence. That was the easy part. In general, installing the JavaScript tracking code is simple (And if you don’t think it is, hire someone before you muck up your website. It’s not worth the risk.).

When was the last time you sat down and asked yourself this basic question: “What am I hoping to get out of this application?”.  After all you researched things to death. You read article after article. You may have gone to tender… Or even hired a consultant to help you manage your way through things. And you finally fell for the web analytics application of your dreams.

Fast forward — It’s installed. The first 30 days are an orgy of data. Kind of like a honeymoon. You can’t keep up! Then reality sets in.  “What is all this crap? What am I doing? How did I get here?” (I am talking about Analytics now.).

Which Way do I Go?

Some free advice….. Only measure information (data) that you feel you or your organization can utilize to to move your business forward and to make positive change. In other words unless you can frame some actions around a particular piece of information, ignore it. This will help you parse out what is unimportant very quickly. And even better, it will help you focus on what is important. You can always come back to a piece of data at a later date – when you have a better feel for a particular item. Or when it is of importance.

Keep an open mind and accept that things will indeed change (That is the reality of the fast paced economy we live in.). And so should your objectives with respect to measuring the oodles of data being launched in your direction. What is important today may no longer be important tomorrow. You need to roll with the punches. Keep an open mind. Listen to what your clients are saying.  After all, in the end, they are why you are here. Look at business trends.

If one was to look at every piece of information spewed out by today’s website analytics packages, nothing would get done. You would  be buried. And, as anywhere these days, you have a budget to manage. So free time to play with numbers and concepts is at a premium – if non-existent.

Now a bit of spade and shovel work!

Let’s look at a couple of examples of things that can be easily tracked – and even more importantly; things that are actionable:

Let’s forget about Conversion Rates as a standalone metric. Heresy I know…. But why waste your time on an item that has so many variables?  You are better off determining why someone came to your site (support? corporate information? etc..), then asking them if they found what they wanted.

So combine the what (traffic) with the why I am here (support, etc…), with the experience (Survey: “Yes I got what I wanted!” versus “No I did not, and your site sucks to boot.”).

This can be sobering information at times. But really how else will you get actionable metrics? Go into a store these days, and as you are paying for the goods, you are asked: “Did you find everything you were looking for?”. Same concept, different location.  Take a tech support site for example. You ask a question, the site gives you an answer. And then you get a popup or whatnot asking you if you received a suitable answer.

The owner of the website correlates this analytics data and takes action with the data that his clients have given him (for free I may add). Of course one can build on this concept with any type of website visit. The aforementioned example just came to mind.

Taking the above example we can expand our metrics to just about anywhere we want to go. Take my cycling website. One of my key objectives is generating discussion around cycling.  I write about various topics. So a key measurement for me is the discussion that ensues after I write a blog post. The comments I get back drive me to analyze whether or not:

  • people really care about what I write about (had to get that out)
  • enjoy my articles (that too)
  • if I am choosing good topics

So I monitor my comments (the volume of which by Category are an indicator of topic popularity). I also track unique views of each article. Funny that. My all time most visited, most read, and most commented BLOG post was a summary I did of a bike trip Helen & I took to the Netherlands in September 2008. It’s at the top of GA almost every month. Ah! People like to read about cycling trips to cool places (It was a great trip.). So let’s travel some more in order to allow me to write more about our cycling adventures!

Am I making sense? Do you feel that you can take an objective look at a truckload of website analytics data and combine key metrics with your business (personal) website objectives… and then match them up to measurable customer-centric and actionable items?

Your new Web Analytics mantra: “I’ll ignore the data unless I can formulate actionable items that will have a positive impact on my clients and their experience in dealing with my business.” See, that was easy, wasn’t it?

In future posts I will explore other items and look in depth at matching business imperatives with website traffic and analysis.

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