You can take a monthly glance at how many visitors your website has received, or you can start treating the data with the depth it deserves. Filip Matous offers to help in an article for Harvard Business Review. He shares three ways to better use web analytics:
- Avoid mental shortcuts.
- Match your business goals to metrics.
- Communicate metrics effectively.
Untangling the Web
When you find a new trend in the data, you obviously want to uncover the reason for it. Matous however cautions against using what psychology refers to as “System One” thinking, thinking that draws upon your instincts and emotions to reach fast conclusions about things. Matous elaborates:
With analytics, there are two culprits to avoid in particular: using aggregate data, and mistaking correlation with causation. When web data is clumped together — as when you’re looking at all traffic, rather than segmenting by source, referral, or user demographic, for example — there are often too many variables at work to understand what is really causing the pattern you are seeing. For analytics insights to produce actionable solutions, you need to favor System Two thinking: slow, logical examination of separate facts to find out what’s behind them.
The second tip is something you should have heard a hundred times by now—metrics are only at their most effective when they relate back to strategy in some way. One example of a big lead metric would include when your contact page is used to send an email. Useful sales metrics would include average customer acquisition cost and amount of new customers in a month. Within lead and sales metrics though, there could be smaller “micro” metrics. For instance, micro lead metrics might track how many times white papers and case studies have been downloaded from your website. All of these various numbers add up to a more complete picture of your business.
Finally, the analytics discovered need to be conveyed in a way that makes sense. Matous recommends sharing metrics as ratios so that you are always comparing data and telling a story, and once established, reporting should be done regularly. An unintended consequence of this new insight into the data could be that people get bruised egos when the numbers prove their ideas are not working. In such cases, that is when you use your tact as a leader to provide a “there, there” and keep everybody moving forward positively.
You can read the original article and view more examples of the above ideas here: https://hbr.org/2015/10/3-ways-to-get-more-out-of-your-web-analytics