- This is not going to be a fun conversation with your CEO.
- You need help managing reporting.
Ensuring Accurate Tracking
Accuracy in tracking online data can make or break your company’s marketing efforts. Without proper insight on how potential customers interact with your site, how can you know if you’re effectively reaching them? An analytics professional with the right knowledge and time can ensure analytics is properly set up and that you’re accurately tracking your online marketing efforts.
You’re a data person. You understand that Google Analytics entails more than just throwing a piece of code on a site and watching the data pour in, but does management? Do they understand how easy it is for things to go off the rails and for data to go bad? Development updates can interfere with a tracking code; improper setup can cause data to be over- or under-reported; or spam referrals can show up in data, skewing numbers. Help your team understand how mistakes can happen as a way of making sure they don’t.
Monitoring accuracy can be as simple as regularly reviewing analytics reports to make sure that not only is data coming in, but that all the right metrics are being tracked for all of your content. You want to ensure that you are indeed tracking all pages on the site (no content is missing tracking code), that traffic sources are showing up properly, and that you’re tracking real users and not spam visits.
When this doesn’t happen, a number of issues can occur that an average person may not catch with just quick glances at the standard reports. You may miss visits to particular pages, encounter traffic lumped into Direct that may actually come from other sources, or find that spam referrals are skewing data.
For example, a quick glance at the Referrals report below shows this site received 979 referrals in the timeframe shown. However, a closer look reveals that the second referral source is semalt.semalt.com, accounting for 8% of referrals.
A dedicated analytics professional will quickly understand this is a spam referral from a crawler that has been entering countless analytics accounts and does NOT reflect actual traffic. You’ll note that Semalt shows a 100% Bounce Rate, one Page/Session, and an Average Session Duration of 0, skewing the overall data and giving you a less accurate picture of how the real visitors engaged with your site.
Upon further research, it turns out that ranksonic.info and buttons-for-website.com also prove to be spam or fake referrals. So, three out of the top six referrals should not be included in a final report - at least not a report you plan to show your boss! An analytics professional would proactively filter out spam traffic to ensure that an analytics account includes the most accurate data possible.
Properly Interpreting Data
While you should educate your team to understand analytics, letting anyone in the company loose to make decisions based on analytics data can cause problems. An analytics professional can ensure that everyone is looking at the right data and interpreting it properly; an untrained eye, however, can easily make wrong assumptions.
For example, say the CEO of the company has been shown how to view the Google Analytics dashboard. With this newfound confidence, he decides to compare date ranges from this month to last to see how the website is performing. He logs in to find that, apart from Sessions being up, a bunch of red numbers face him, one showing that Users have decreased 6%. Immediately, he begins to question the value of the SEO work he’s invested in, since it was supposed to drive traffic up, not down.
However, someone who understands analytics would take the next step of looking to see if organic traffic, specifically, had increased or decreased in the same timeframe. The CEO was looking at overall traffic, not paying attention to how individual channels performed.
Upon hearing the CEO’s concerns, our analytics professional takes a deeper dive by looking at the Channels report, specifically noting the performance of organic search. Looking specifically at New Users, you can see that organic search has actually seen a 4% increase, where other channels, like Direct and Social, have seen significant decreases.
Based on this data, we can conclude that the decrease in overall traffic does not relate to problems on the SEO front. Our analytics professional may delve further to analyze where Direct traffic came from in order to assess the drop.
In general, a knowledgeable analytics professional can point people to the right reports relevant to their concerns, as well as correct misconceptions about data.
Keeping Ahead of Trends
If you aren’t working with analytics and reading industry blogs every day, you’re likely not finding out about new features and techniques you could be implementing. While you don’t necessarily need to be chasing every new fad, you may be missing out on the chance to improve your data analysis and online marketing. Having a dedicated staff member who pays attention to trends will help to keep your business ahead of the curve by calling out new opportunities.
For example, when Google Tag Manager came out, a new way to easily implement multiple tracking codes and more easily track conversions became available to businesses. In a large organization requiring constant implementation of new tracking codes, an analytics professional could help save time and back-and-forth with developers by calling out the opportunity to set up Tag Manager on the company’s website.
Also, within the last year, Google Analytics recently added Enhanced Ecommerce features that allow for tracking various points of the online shopping stages. For example, you can see how many people added items to their cart vs. actually purchased. However, implementing this requires a bit of custom development or implementation of a plugin, depending on the site. A dedicated analytics professional can work with a development team on adding the right code necessary to use this beneficial tracking for an ecommerce site.
An in-house analytics professional will help ensure that web analytics stays a crucial part of your business’s operations. Ultimately, improper setup of analytics can affect your business’s bottom line, hindering the ability to track performance and make decisions about which marketing campaigns to invest in. Having a staff member who can instill a focus on analytics across all aspects of the company, as well as helping others properly understand analytics, will help to ensure that members of the company make business decisions based on data and not hunches.