What Is Website Analytics & Performance Reporting
Website analytics is the collection, reporting, and analysis of website data. The focus is to identify online performance metrics that align with your goals and then track how your online presence — your website, your social media activity, your email marketing, etc. — is helping you achieve those goals.
Why Performance Reporting And Analytics Are So Important
The typical emotional reactions to data are: stress, fear, confusion, and frustration. Fortunately, data and analytics don’t have to be this way. In fact, we make it interesting by turning all those numbers and reports into actionable intel that can be used to grow your business or organization and help you achieve your goals.
Why Data Matters
Data comes in two flavors: not enough and too much. The challenge most clients struggle with before coming to us is how to turn numbers into meaningful decisions. Static numbers, in and of themselves, are meaningless, but data never lies. The challenge, is in the methods of analyzing meaningful data. How do you go from the spreadsheet to strategic decisions that grow your business or organization? Let’s take a look.
Website Analytics & Performance Reporting Methodology
To make analytics and data meaningful and executable, we apply 3 guiding principles:
- Give data a job. This is the foundation of data analysis. Every piece of data gathered should help answer questions and be leveraged to make smart decisions.
- Use hypothesis testing to convert questions into strategies. This is what makes data meaningful. It’s the process of transforming raw data into business decisions.
- Apply context to account for the unmeasurable. Some things are hard to measure. For those situation, we contextualize the data.
Analytics and data shouldn’t be confusing nor stressful. But it’s easy to feel that way when there are so many sources to draw from, each formatting the data differently, sometimes even giving different numbers for the same metric.
Where do we put our attention? How do we compare data from different sources? To start, we give data a job.
Principle #1. Give Data a Job
One of the easiest ways to understand data is to think of the Customer Journey. This is a foundational concept that makes it easy to visualize customer acquisition. Brand marketing creates awareness and attracts new visitors to your website. Some of these new leads will be interested enough to engage and evaluate your business and products. Then a percentage will convert into customers.
Our analytics model not only maps the stages of a customer’s journey, it identifies the metrics that should be measured at each stage of the funnel:
- TOFU, or top of funnel, is the Awareness and Attraction phase
- MOFU, or middle of funnel, is the Engagement & Evaluation phase
- BOFU, or bottom of funnel, is the Conversion phase
- PCP, or post-conversion phase, is the Delight phase which focuses on how customers become repeat buyers, life-time subscribers, and your best advocates
This is how we give your data a job. We don’t look at everything at once. We assign different metrics to each stage of the funnel.
Rather than measuring your online health only by vanity metrics or bottom-line numbers, we measure its health at every phase—identifying leaks in your funnel, finding strategic ways to plug them, and heeding the data signals that will improve conversions.
Categorizing Data By Funnel Stage
TOFU Metrics (Top of Funnel)
The goal for this stage is attracting new visitors, so the the key question for us when choosing metrics for this stage is: Does this metric give us insight into brand-new visitors?
MOFU Metrics (Middle-of-the-Funnel)
The guiding question when deciding whether a metric is right for the middle of the funnel is this: Does this metric provide insight into how well visitors are committing? “Commitment” can be definied as:
- People returning and engaging with content
- People subscribing
- People filling out a webform
- People following you in social media
It’s about people engaging, evaluating, and then giving you permission to contact them and offer more value.
BOFU Metrics (Bottom of Funnel)
The guiding question when choosing metrics for this stage: Does this metric give insight into how well prospects convert into customers? This stage is especially important because, once someone buys something—even something small and inexpensive—the likelihood that they’ll buy again increases 10-fold, and their willingness to invest in the relationship significantly increases.
PC Metrics (Post-Conversion)
The goal of this stage? Identify customer satisfaction and retention. You want to increase membership, traffic ROI, retention, and customer lifetime value. The guiding question when looking at post-conversion metrics: Does this metric reveal how satisfied customers are? These metrics depict real results from using your product or service.
This data isn’t waiting for you on Google, so it’s harder to come by, but satisfied customers are usually willing to share them. We look for positive reviews because that tells how well you’re helping your customers reach their goals.
Categorizing Data by Type
Categorizing metrics by funnel stage is one way, but there’s another ways to categorize metrics, and that’s by the type of information they provide:
- Key metrics dictate overall health. These metrics, also known as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are like a thermometer for your business. For a metric to be key, you need to be able to look at it and know immediately whether your business is doing well or not.
- Drill-down metrics answer big questions. These metrics are more granular and help you understand what’s going on in specific areas of your business.
Typically, both metrics are used together, not one or the other. If key metrics tell you things are going well, you use drill-down metrics to help you understand why.
Example: Improving Search Traffic
- The key metric is New Visitors: How many first-time visitors are landing on your website?
- To learn more, the drill-down metric would be Share of Search: What percentage of search traffic is owned by what person or brand?
Here, we would compare how much search traffic you’re getting for a keyword to how much your competitors are getting from that same keyword. This would allow us to find areas where you can compete with much larger businesses because you own the keyword. Alternatively, it will tell you which keywords need some work.
2 Ways Data Is Given A Job
As you can see, there are 2 ways to give metrics a job:
- Assign them to a specific stage of the Customer Journey funnel
- Use them to measure the health of different areas in your online presence and then answer deeper questions about how and why.
Once you understand the overall health and where things are working (or not), you can begin to use metrics for problem solving.
Principle #2: Using Metrics to Solve Problems
The real value in this data is to turn raw data into active data. For that, we use the analytic decision-making process.
This process works a lot like the scientific method, except it’s based on metrics. In the scientific method, you start with questions and hypotheses, and then you make predictions about what might happen if you test different hypotheses.
It’s the same with data and analytics. We review your data and start asking questions about it. We make hypotheses about what might happen if any of those numbers could be impacted. And then we can devise a test to see if we’re right, which can be coordinated with conversion rate optimization if appropriate.
Simply by reviewing the results, we clearly see what needs to be done to improve your business. Making decisions is no longer about gut instincts, but about what the data is telling you.
Reviewing Key Metrics to Inspire Questions
Sometime you don’t know enough to know what should be asked, so this is where metrics will also help.
- Step 1. Review key metrics and identify the places where performance is better than expected or, perhaps, trending downward. In many cases, this will inspire questions.
- Step 2. Generate a hypothesis about what’s happening. Several factors may contribute to the success or failure that needs to be understood. The more hypotheses you have, the better the chances of isolating all the factors involved.
- Step 3. Use drill-down metrics to test hypotheses and figure out what’s causing the issue. This data isn’t usually reviewed on a daily basis, but it exists, and it should be easy to find.
- Step 4. Take action based on the findings.
Principle #3: Contextualizing Data To Account For The Unmeasurable
It doesn’t matter how good data is, sometimes it doesn’t tell everything you need to know.
For instance, let’s say a trend appears in the data. Why is that trend taking shape? Maybe we ran a campaign during that period. Maybe your competitors did something unique. Or maybe you had a technology problem that skewed the data. If these these factors are not taken into account when evaluating the data, any assumption will be based on a false set of data and a conclusion won’t be valid. In these situations, context helps account for variances in data, and there are 4 contexts to consider.
- Historical Contexts – By reviewing data through a historical lens, seeing trends and typical behavior among customers becomes apparent.
- External Contexts – What external changes have influenced the metrics? External factors may be outside our control, but they need to be considered when evaluating performance.
- Internal Contexts – These are internal changes that you do control that might have affected numbers.
- Contextual Contexts – This has to do with how data is being puled. Are raw numbers or percentages being compared? Are numbers skewed by outliers?
Making Data Actionable
As you can see, the 3 principles of well-executed analytics and data can help turn random numbers into actionable tasks.
- Data needs to be assigned roles to know the stage of the funnel they relate to and whether they are key metrics or answer questions (drill-down metrics).
- Data helps you make smarter business decisions. It reveals what’s working, what’s not, and how results can be improved.
- When numbers are used to ask/answer questions, you know what you’re trying to prove or disprove.
- Then finally, data needs to be put into context by evaluating the factors that might be driving numbers up or down. By tying data to the real world, the numbers will make more sense and it will be easier to use them in your business to drive growth.
Website Analytics & Performance Reporting Terminology
- Analytical Decision Making -This refers to the data scientist’s scientific method. It’s the process used to identify the questions that should be asked and the best methods for answering them.
- UTM Parameter – This refers to the code appended to a URL to give more information about where traffic is coming from. Anyone who clicks on links with UTM parameters will be tagged, and then those tags are tracked in Google Analytics. This shows which sources and communications are sending the best traffic.
- Key Performance Indicator (KPI) – KPI is another way to refer to a metric in general, and it’s usually used to talk about a metric that someone thinks is driving their business. KPI is another way to talk about a key metric.
- Dashboard – A dashboard is a web page that collates metrics from a particular source. We provide performance reporting dashboards to all Website Care Members.
Website Analytics & Performance Reporting Service
Analytics needs a process for dealing with data to figure out which numbers help identify opportunities and which to ignore. There’s no better feeling than knowing without a doubt that your online marketing efforts and website are working for you —and it’s our performance reporting and website analytics as a Website Care Member that will give you this confidence.
- You can access our enterprise-level performance reporting at a fraction of the cost.
- Our performance dashboards follow the Customer Journey funnel so that you can easily understand your metrics and then use that intelligence to make goal-achieving decisions.
- Our dashboards focus on key metrics (KPIs – Key Performance Indicators) that allow you to look deeper into drill down metrics and ask/answer questions about the results.
- Each dashboard is customized to track your unique goals, KPIs, and drill down metrics.
- You can view performance data from all your online channels in a single report: Website, Social Media, Paid Advertising, Email Campaigns, Ecommerce, CRMs, + More
- Your performance dashboards can be accessed at any time and data is updated in real time, allowing you to look at yearly, monthly, weekly, or even daily analysis.
- Your dashboard can have custom alerts to warn us and you when certain metrics are exceeding, or failing to hit their mark.
- Upon request, we can: audit your analytics, set goal/event tracking