Let’s Analyze Some Stuff
When I’m talking to marketers one of the biggest questions I get is about web analytics. It feels a little bit like analytics is uncharted territory and there is a lot of confusion on how to set up an effective analytics strategy. In the early days of my web career I would just slap Google Analytics code on a site I was building and think to myself, “Bam! Analytics done!” Raise your hand if you’ve done that (or still do). It’s alright, this is a safe place and I won’t judge you. Luckily, after haphazardly approaching web analytics for years I learned my lesson about how to actually be strategic with my data analysis and create a plan that gives insights and can make our online marketing much more effective.
If you’re wondering: “how should I be thinking about analytics?” I’m glad you asked! Let’s get down to the basics: analytics is a tool that answers questions and provides insights. A proper strategy allows you to act like a detective and get to the bottom of what happened and make decisions about what to do next. If you are thinking about the data in the right way your analytics platform isn’t just providing historical data (e.g. In October 2016 we had 200,000 page views), but instead you can use the tool to interpret past data to make effective decisions about the future (e.g. prospects are 20% more likely to convert on our Guided Tour from the Pricing page). Like most things in marketing, you have to approach your decisions with a goal in mind and with a real strategy – if you don’t it won’t be effective. You have to figure out what you care about in order to know how to utilize your analytics to its full potential. And that leads us to the next most common question I get asked: “But, what should I care about?”
Finding the Right ‘Stuff’ To Analyze
One of the challenges with implementing an analytics strategy is that every business is different, has different goals, challenges, and metrics. It’s tough to choose a one size fits all answer to tell you what to care about and what to start tracking, but there are some great practices to lead you in the right direction. First off, what does your business care about–is it making money? (It’s probably making money). Is it getting a list of email subscribers to market to? Is it how many people download and install your app? You need to figure out what those key metrics should be so that you can work out the value of what makes you successful. That will give you a good baseline of where you should start tracking and interpreting data. It boils down very simply to: find out what information you want to know and then figure out how to track that.
I’d suggest working backwards from your end goal. That should lead you to an idea of what data you should care about. I’ll use Pardot as an example. Our end goal is to sell a marketing automation product (p.s. our product is awesome, you should totally check it out). So, thinking backwards from that I can come up with this sort of flow:
We want to sell our product > How do we sell our product? A prospect talks to sales rep > How do they get connected with a sales rep? Create the opportunity for a conversation > How do you start a conversation? Connect with our prospects and get their contact information > How do you get them to want to give you their contact information? Give them helpful information.
This is super simplified, but it gives me a general idea of what our business cares about and enables me to start figuring out what data I want to track on the way to meeting our goals. Based on the above answers the things I should care about tracking are: form conversions, which CTAs/information are most useful for our users, and finding out which high value CTAs resonate the most with our audience and create the opportunity to begin a conversation.
Putting Your Data Analysis Into Practice
“Come on, just give me an example of what you’re doing!”Alrighty then, I can totally do that. Actually, you’re in luck: I’ll give you two examples of how we set up analytics tracking on our site to help us make more strategic decisions.
Example 1: Audience Tracking
We have two audiences that we care about and want to interact with:
1. prospects: people who don’t use anything like our product or are looking for a new solution
2. customers: people who have bought Pardot and are now looking for more information about how to get the most out of the product
We have different business goals depending on whether someone is a prospect or a customer. For a prospect we want them to visit our product pages, our pricing page, and then go to a high value CTA to convert (hint hint) and begin a conversation with a sales rep. For a customer we want them to go to the Customer Hub, and utilize the search functionality and be able to self-serve so they can find the information they’re looking for. So, how do I know if I’m being successful for those two subsets of users? Enter our analytics platform!
We created a Customer Dimension in Google Analytics that tracks whether someone is a customer vs. prospect, so now I’m able to sort users based on which they are. That was a simple step one so I can report on what Customers vs Prospects are doing on the site. This has given a ton of insight into the usage of the website by customers and prospects and using that Custom Dimension we’ve been able to make some key decisions on how to position content for different types of users. Plus, we can report more accurately on actual usage of different sections of the site for the type of user it’s created for. Keeping our goals in mind for each type of user and being able to track what they’re doing and where the disconnects happen we’ve been able to build a site that meets the needs for both our customers and prospects. Yay web analytics!
Example 2: CTA Metrics
A big part of our business strategy is putting CTAs onto our site to give users helpful information and get them to convert on a form. We really wanted to know what CTAs people are interacting with so that we can filter out which offers are most successful vs. which ones nobody cares about. Hmmmm, I guess we could use our analytics platform to start figuring that out! We can also use it to see at which point people are clicking on a CTA and figure out if we have any points in our user journey that causes a user to bounce.
We’ve created custom event tracking that shows what offers are being clicked, from what pages they’re being clicked, and have even discovered that we had some CTAs on our site that nobody was clicking that needed some love (womp womp). We’ve set up different event categories because our Marketing team and customer success teams care about different types of CTAs and want to see how different types of users are interacting with the site.
From setting up some customer events we’ve been able to break down which CTAs are the most popular on the site, and on which page a user is most likely to interact with each type of offer. Since generating form completes is our bread and butter it’s been great for us to understand how pages are being interacted with and then optimize our form conversion rate and generate more interaction with our high value assets. We’ve been able to learn this from testing and having a strategic approach to analytics that helps us understand the user experience on our site.
Our customer success team has been able to launch a customer hub and to build out content that users are actually interested in based on studying the data of interactions on the site.
Oh, sweet sweet analytics. Thanks for telling us we’re doing our jobs well!
The Moral of the Story
This is a topic that could span much more than a blog post, but the truth is that analytics is a super important part of a marketers toolkit. Using our analytics platform, our team is able to dig deeper into our data, segment it based on the type of user, and then see the success of our programs on our site. This is a small segment of how we use analytics to dig deeper and make decisions, but hopefully it gets your imagination going! Being able to build out custom tracking in your analytics platform is a huge part of being successful and sharing meaningful data.
I’d be interested to hear some of the ways you’ve used analytics to make a difference in your business. Let us know in the comments below!