What are web analytics, and why are they important? Whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, effectively analyzing your web analytics creates valuable insights and opportunities to understand the metrics and data of your website users.
While there are a few different analytics options on the market, Google Analytics is the standard. With the transition from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 (known as GA4), understanding how your site performs is more important than ever. With enhanced data tracking and more powerful insights, knowing how to effectively interpret your data will result in an enhanced user experience and overall business objective success.
This guide shares our top six steps for web analytics success: what they are, some common hurdles businesses face and tips to confidently analyze your marketing efforts.
Having comprehensive web analytics is key to understanding your audience and improving their online experience. Data gathered through web analytics helps you gain insights about your users that can be used to further improve their journey. With this knowledge, you can feel confident making impactful decisions to reach any desired outcomes your organization may have.
When you truly start to dig into your website analytics, you will be able to answer the following questions:
The more you know about utilizing analytics for business decision-making, the more you can change and grow!
Implementing and working with Google Analytics is a huge field of study within the digital marketing industry. There are entire teams who are dedicated to implementing, improving and analyzing Google Analytics setups.
If you are at the beginning of your Google Analytics journey and have just set up the tag on your site, the next step is to start analyzing. We know that logging into your account for the first time can be pretty overwhelming, so here are some key concepts that will help you on your way.
Once you log into your account or start going through any Google Analytics courses, you will notice that metrics and dimensions are commonly referenced. So what is a metric? Firstly, a metric in Google Analytics isn’t any different from metrics that statisticians, or other types of data analysts, use every day.
In a basic sense, a metric is a quantitative measurement: this means that metrics are things that you can put a number value to. A metric could be number values, percentages, dollar values or even time (don’t worry, I’ll give an example in the next section).
Along with metrics, you’ll often hear dimensions mentioned in Google Analytics. Again, Google Analytics dimensions aren’t any different than dimensions that are used in statistics or advanced data analysis.
So what is a dimension? Dimensions are described as the attributes of data. This concept is explained more simply through an example:
Say you had a group of 12 people at your birthday party. Four of the attendees were friends from work and eight were friends from school.
In this case, the dimensions (or the attributes) of your birthday party were:
Metrics, when paired with dimensions, give your data meaning. Dimensions give attributes to the numbers (or metrics) in this situation. So if we add metrics to the dimensions of my birthday party, you’ll have:
Bonus: In Google Analytics, you’ll often see the terms ‘primary dimension’ and ‘secondary dimension’ used. In the above example, any of the dimensions can be considered a ‘primary dimension.’ But what is a secondary dimension in Google Analytics? In short: it’s any dimension that you can layer on another dimension for future analysis.
For the data set above, you could add a secondary dimension by taking your ‘friends from work’ and adding another dimension of ‘age’ on top of that. In that instance, ‘friends from work’ is the primary, and the age breakdown of that group would be the secondary dimension.
These two concepts are the foundation of all data analytics, but they are only the beginning. Google’s glossary of terms for metrics and dimensions is great if you’re stuck trying to understand what pages per session, page views or bounce rate actually mean.
It can be challenging to analyze web performance using analytics, and there are some common issues that often hold organizations back. Some of the limitations often described to us are:
We get it; times can get busy, and analytics insights may not be at the top of your priority list. But in all honesty, digging into your website’s performance will help you make more efficient use of your time by identifying what strategies are successful and what aren’t to improve productivity.
Often, people can attain that base level of analytics implementation, but they don’t have the knowledge or experience to get to that more advanced level to add value from a decision-making perspective. Success is found in creating and maintaining reporting that is customized to the needs and goals of your business, and that is something that constantly evolves as campaigns change, which can be a struggle to keep up with.
Now that we have identified the topic of web analytics and some of the common hurdles businesses experience, we are here to share how you can maximize your analytics and reporting efforts.
The process begins with planning. So much time and effort goes into a website's design, the user experience and the look and feel, but once it goes live, what happens? We like to compare it to putting a lot of effort into planning an epic party but then not inviting anyone. What’s the point of taking on the massive undertaking of building an incredible site if you aren’t setting up proper tracking to find out if you are actually achieving the key outcomes you want?
Our plan is in place, we know what we want to track and we know the tools we’re using. Now it’s time for the second phase, where we dive into those tools and configure everything.
With the right analytics in place, you can make smarter decisions for your business. Committing to better tracking and reporting will help ensure you are leveraging your data in the most effective way. It all starts with data. With the right information at your fingertips, you can make informed decisions that will lead to more conversions and better overall website performance.
The key to good web analytics is not just collecting data but knowing which data to collect and how to use that data to your advantage. When you use a digital marketing firm, you’re not just asking someone to collect data for you; you’re using a service that will provide you with exactly the data you need, along with the right insights on how to use that data to improve your marketing efforts.