Presented by Matt Bailey
Analytics is fun and awesome, and by the end of this presentation, you're going to love it too!
Standard stats dashboards are worthless. No analytics program is going to tell you "there's a problem in your shopping cart, and people can't go to the next step."
Log files: a big text file that records all the requests to the web server. Who requested a page, what page they requested, etc.
Either way, they're just recording information about accesses to your pages and files.
Concern with page tagging is that the data is on a third-party server and isn't portable when you want to change providers. Matt favors log files because the data is his, and he can maintain historical data when he switches to a new log file analyzer program.
No analytics program will tell you how to improve your website. You have to ask questions of the data in order to get this information out.
Keep in mind: there is no such thing as "accuracy." This is why analytics programs show different numbers. It's a matter of interpretation, so programs don't agree about how to count visitors. Also, some analytics programs can't tell the difference between humans and scraper bots.
Unique visitors can only be counted in two ways:
Basically, without cookies, you're not tracking unique visitors, you're just tracking visitor sessions. Matt doesn't think people need to worry much about users deleting cookies, because most web users don't even know what cookies are.
Visitor sessions: a measure of the number of times visitors view your software (without regard to whether those visitor sessions come from new or returning visitors).
Search Engine referrals: measures how many people came to you through search engines.
Bounce rate or exit rate: the number of people who come to your site, view one page, and leave. Matt loves to keep an eye on this one, because it lets him know if he's reaching the right people with the right message.
Conversion rate: the number of people who do what you want them to do. It's about taking some kind of action (not necessarily a sale). Average website conversion rate is 1.8%. Matt says that's horrible; we can do much better on the web.
We tend to look at our site as having a single function, an over-arching goal. Matt calls this a "macro action." It's important to look at the "micro-actions" -- all the little decision points people go through on our website on their way to the final goal.
Analytics is not about numbers, it's about the customer experience. What obstacles are visitors facing when going through the process on your website?
Recent survey of online advertisers: 72% of advertisers only track the click-through. Only 11% are doing a detailed ROI analysis.
We need to equate money to these micro-actions. For instance: what is the value of a lead? You need to know this to determine if your website is making a profit for you.
We need to get beyond reporting and move to analysis instead.
"Web analytics works best when measurement expectations are clearly defined in advance, not after the fact or on an ad-hoc basis." (Eric Peters quote)
If you haven't defined goals, you're not analyzing, you're just reporting.
What most analytics programs give you is data, not information. You have no context, so you can't draw conclusions or learn anything from it. Doesn't tell you how to improve your website.
Data + Context = Information
Information + (more) Context = Knowledge
You want information about a specific group of people, what they were looking for, and whether they found it.
Analytics stops at KNOWLEDGE. To get to UNDERSTANDING requires YOU. The secret is the analyst -- the person. Matt recommends the book Web Analytics: An Hour A Day by Avinash Kaushik. Avinash says if you're budgeting for analytics, budget 90% for the person and 10% for the software.
Start by building context. People aren't cattle. They don't move as a herd from one place to another. People come to your site for many different reasons, while your aggregate analytics data only gives you "cattle data."
Segmentation is the realization that not everyone is the same.
The Red Shirt Phenomenon: the assumption that if you wear a red shirt, you'll die. But is it true?
Matt decided to study it to see. Apparently, out of 54 total crew members who died in the course of the show, 79% of them wore red shirts. Let's call that a 79% "conversion rate."
So it seems clear wearing a red shirt seems to be hazardous to one's health.
Now we know what happened, but we don't know why. Let's dig in further. Turns out the primary situation in which the red-shirts die is when they beam down to the planet's surface with Captain Kirk. BUT, if Captain Kirk meets an alien woman, the redshirt survival rate increases to 84%, and there were no deaths at all when the alien woman was green.
As a red-shirt, your survival rate increases if you stop beaming down to planets, encourage Kirk to hook up with alien women, visit peaceful planets and stop fighting. (And maybe change your shirt color?)
So now we understand what factors increase the "conversion rate" for that specific "customer segment."
And now if we think about it, we know people use our website differently depending on what they're looking for, and where they come from. We need to measure the statistics for each different segment.
Once again, people aren't cattle. Don't rely on aggregate information. Segment all this stuff out.
Matt tells the story of a company that had a home page bounce rate of 50%. Digging in, he discovered they had worked to get their page ranked high for "UPS" because they sold an Uninterruptable Power Supply. But they didn't have info on the home page about their UPS, because it wasn't a major product for them. (The ranking pursuit was apparently simply for vanity.) The bounce rate for people who came to home page via search on "UPS" was over 80%. So the bounce rate for other segments was much lower, but that one segment was skewing aggregate numbers. This is why aggregate numbers can be misleading.
Need to slice the data to figure who's there, why they're there and what's the context of their visit.
Matt analyzed traffic, time on site and conversions for a site based on where visitors came from:
High context, low competition for attention: Blogs and articles. Highest engagement and highest conversion rate.
Moderate context, moderate competition for attention: topical search. Moderate engagement with an average conversion rate.
Low context, high competition for attention: social news. Stayed on site for less than 10 seconds on average and a conversion rate of zero.
Different people come to your site from different places with different goals in mind.
When you develop a report, is it understandable, clear and supportive of organizational goals? Credibility requires reporting bad news as well as good news.
Path analysis is useless because there are so many paths. Pie charts are terrible unless they're very, very simple. Emphasis should be on the information, not the picture.
The most important thing to do is to ask questions. "Question asking is the most significant tool human beings have." (Neil Postman quote)
It's good to know which links are good for branding, which links are good for ranking, and which links are good for business. Focus your energies on those that are do for you what you need.
If your host won't give you access to your log files, get a new host. That's your information, your data and you need it to maximize your website profits.
Learn more about the ways Diane can help improve the performance and profitability of your business web site, or request a no-obligation personal consultation, by visiting www.NineYards.com.
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