How to Get Started with Analytics: Mistakes to Avoid
In today's digital age, the abundance of data can often feel overwhelming, especially when you're just starting out. However, it need not be a minefield; all you need is a clear sense of what you're looking for, or perhaps more crucially, what you should avoid. Analytics offers you a way to sort all that data and make it useful, but it takes a bit of know-how, so let's take a look together.
Starting Too Early
If your website is only a week old, it's unlikely to provide you with valuable data. While those initial figures might be tempting to work through, it's better to hold off and allow your data to accumulate before diving into analysis.
The same applies when experimenting with new marketing or SEO strategies. It takes time to gather sufficient data to gauge an impact. Rather than frequently changing direction when immediate results are lacking, stick to a single tactic for several months before making changes.
Not Learning Your Tools
Opening your analytics dashboard and scanning the overview probably won’t give you valuable insight. Take the time to learn how to effectively navigate your analytics tools, Google Analytics offers a wealth of useful features that may not be immediately obvious or need setting up. Most major platforms provide training programs, such as Google Digital Garage, or you can turn to YouTube experts for help. Take advantage of these often free resources to unlock the full potential of your analytics tools.
No Clear Goal
The most important question is: What do you want to learn? Don't examine a report simply because it's available; instead, focus on those that contribute to a defined goal, preferably a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) one. For instance, if your aim is to boost orders, knowing whether visitors use tablets or smartphones won't be that helpful. This data could be used to support your site's compatibility, but it doesn't offer insights into actual purchases. Setting a goal and establishing a conversion funnel will show how far users progress in the buying process before abandoning it. This information can highlight potential obstacles to completing purchases, such as broken links, high delivery costs, or other issues.
A common pitfall is drowning in an excessive amount of data. Despite having access to copious information, most of it simply isn’t relevant. Similar to setting goals for your analytics, too much data and too many reports can lead to confusion and conflicting outcomes. Instead, opt for one or two reports that deliver the data you need, then consistently track these reports to monitor changes and use the information to support your next steps.
Once again, this connects to goal-setting and data volume. Vanity metrics can often lead to misleading conclusions. For instance, your website visits increasing by 100% in a month, sounds pretty good. However, if purchases don’t increase or your bounce rate rises, then extra website visits aren’t so great.
These vanity metrics are often captured on social media reports. A rise in post reach is positive, but if it doesn't result in meaningful interactions like messages, saves, or website visits, it might be time to revisit your content plan.
Ultimately, the challenges faced by individuals when embarking on analytics stem from a lack of a well-defined plan. Analytics are intended to enhance decision-making rather than overwhelm you. Allocate time to learn your tools and set smart objectives. Then as you start to accumulate data, you'll be ready to gain its value.