Is it Time for an Analytics Refresh?

Take a Few Minutes to Rethink Your Approach

Putting the focus on analytics on the back burner is something I see more often than not. And I can see why this happens: a site has an analytics platform in place that’s accumulating data and spitting out metrics so everything’s all set, right? But at the end of the day, can you take a look at your existing analytics strategy and confidently say whether or not your marketing efforts are meeting your core business objectives? If not, then it might be time for a refresh.

In his post “Digital Marketing & Analytics: Five Deadly Myths De-mythified!” Avinash Kaushik, author, blogger and Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google, describes what’s called a data-first strategy as “data before everything else.” He goes on to say, “Data is important. I believe it can help drive your business strategy smartly. But, a data-first strategy […] is nuts. It will only slow down your progress and allow your competitors to crush you like a bug.” His solution? Reject data-first and “accept data-with strategies.”

Without a strategy, your data is just a bunch of numbers and percentages. I’ve seen numerous reports that serve as data for data’s sake – consisting of a data dump with no insights. What good are these results for your bottom line? Why carry on with an approach that has a limited measurable outcome?

Here are a few questions and pointers for refreshing your current strategy to get the most of your metrics:

What are you trying to solve?

To begin, picture what you hope to achieve and track with a new strategy, then work backwards. Where are you now and what is your desired outcome? What issues have you faced in the past, and how can you use your data to find a solution? What you hope to accomplish today is likely different than what you were trying to accomplish in the past, so why not evolve your analytics strategy with your overarching business goals?

How are you reporting success?

Once you have an idea of what you’re trying to solve, take a look at your existing reporting structure. Does it contain a holistic view of your efforts, or are you reporting in silos? Do the contents of these reports contain just data, or data with actionable insights? Revisiting how your data is shared will ensure that the status of your goals is contained in future reports.

What should you be tracking?

You have an idea of what you want to accomplish with your strategy and an ideal method of sharing the data, but which metrics should be included in your reports? High-level visitor metrics can be helpful, but it’s time to think beyond vanity metrics, move beyond a one-size-fits-all approach, and discover those that matter – especially if you’re looking to track conversions and ROI. Sit with your team and decide which metrics are most useful, and which ones are simply taking up space.

What are you using to track your efforts?

Revisit the tools you’re using to gather data. Are they up to date? If you’re using Google Analytics, for example, hopefully your site is leveraging the Universal Analytics script by now. If not, then it’s seriously time to upgrade. You can also use this time to consider additional options, from Google Tag Manager to third-party reporting tools. If considering a third-party tool, see if a free trial version is offered, then test it to determine whether it will be beneficial for achieving what you’ve set out to accomplish before making the investment.

Do you have the right team in place?

Do a quick assessment of your team. Do you have the right team in place to make your vision a reality? Whether you have an in-house team or are working with an agency, starting the conversation can reveal if assistance is needed in order to put together a plan and start to rebuild or simply build your web analytics strategy.

This guide should serve as a starting point to help you rethink your current analytics approach – especially if you feel it has fallen by the wayside. Once the wheels are in motion, test it, refine it, and then test it some more. It’s a process that can (and should) evolve over time.

But when should you refresh your analytics strategy? Certainly, there are ideal times, such as a site redesign, for example, but why not now? The sooner you’re able to start the process, the sooner you’ll be on your way to turning data into insights, and insights into actions. It can take a little bit of an initial investment, but it will be totally worth it long term.


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