Web analytic pitfalls you shouldn’t fall into… and what is really important

Tracking your clients’ online behavior is no longer magic today. It’s easy, too easy. Sign up for a Google Analytics account, grab and paste the tracking code and wait for two days. Without paying a single dollar, data flows in automatically and you get tables and charts in all shapes.

I was totally amazed the first time seeing these charts on my dashboard and thought whole night through what I could possibly do with them. But two days passed and I did nothing. Months later I got the tracking code installed on my second website, then on the third one… Before I realized it, my account was flooded with websites, views and reports, and I stopped checking them.

Many marketers face the same problem. After early enthusiasm, they can’t find a good way to use the data. Eventually, they get overwhelmed and give up.

Why do so many marketers fail to adopt web analytics if it’s as easy as inserting a simple code? Because it’s never about the code. It’s not about the tool either, although tool providers want you to think so. It’s about thinking clearly what’s important in your business and what to measure.

What’s important in your business?

With a simple search, you can get tonnes of articles titled “Top XX metrics to keep an eye on”. I can make a list of these popular metrics here to save your time: pageview, bounce rate, frequency, re-visit, abandon rate, media time, active members, conversion rate… But seriously are they important to your business?

Is the business more successful because the number of visitors doubled? Maybe the new visitors brought you more profits. Maybe they were just there to consume the free resource. Maybe they were irrelevant and never came back. Or maybe you just launched the product, increasing the visitor number from 5 to 10 is hardly an achievement.

Nobody can tell you what’s important to you except yourself. But there are ways to think this clearly. Ask yourself the two questions below:

First, what business are you doing and how do you get the money? Do you use the website to promote your local store? Are you holding an e-commercial site that sells goods online? Are you providing subscription-based service? Do you get money from Ads by providing free content? Do you get commission by bridging two-sided markets?

The business type is important because it decides your ultimate goal. An e-commercial site’s goal is selling more, a SaaS’s goal is maximizing customer lifetime value while a media site’s goal is increasing Ad inventory. Goals are different for every business; don’t track something just because it’s in the top list.

Second, what is the stage of your business? Are you struggling to build your first MVP? Are you trying to let the early adopters spread the words? Are you trying to make some bucks from your early market? Is the product already mature and you are more focused on generating steady cash flow? Are you thinking about pivoting the product to another direction?

The business stage is important because it decides your current focus. An e-commercial site’s goal is selling, but based on its stage, you might have different strategies. At the early stage, you want to get more buyers. Then you optimize shopping cart to reduce abandon rate. Later you want to increase shopping cart size or let buyers come back more often. Finally, you think about how to reduce the acquisition cost and increase the margin. Again, focuses are different for every business stage; don’t track something just because it’s in the top list.

Your business and stage basically decide what’s important to measure. Think clearly before inserting the code. You can refer to the great work “Lean Analytics” from Alistair and Ben if you feel confused about what’s important to your business. You can get lots of inspiration there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *