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Tomorrow is the first day in a new year for Microsoft. Our financial year runs from July to June and so all planning happens around this time as well.
Exactly a year ago I was asked to work on some ideas for a Web Analytics Blog and support forum for our new adCenter Analytics tool, formerly known as Project Gatineau.
To be honest, I didn’t who a whole lot about analytics.........even though I thought I did.
Working in search engine marketing for 7 years I’ve analysed thousands of reports from Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft adCenter. CPCs, clicks, impressions and conversions were all I need to be interested in right?
Granted it’s tricky when you’re managing PPC campaigns for advertisers or agencies to get a hold of the deep dive analytics data, but when I started looking at the stats on the adCenter Blogs and some other sites, a whole new world opened up before me!
Here are just 10 things I’ve learned about web analytics in the last year:
1) You must have some sort of analytics package tracking activity on your site – free or paid – without it you are flying blind!
2) Tag your entire site to gain a full picture of your users engagement. Restricting yourself to just a snapshot might mean you miss some vital insight.
3) Bounce rate is your most important metric – as Charles Thrasher put it: “If you can't move your visitors beyond the landing pages, you can't close the sale.”
4) “Hits” are what pop stars and Simon Cowell generate – lose that word from your analytics vocabulary – it means nothing.
5) Page views and unique users as metrics are a start. But begin to dig deeper into Visitor Loyalty. How many of those users came back?
6) Set your site some goals. In the next six months I want my traffic to be X. In order to achieve that I need to do Y based on the data I have right now.
7) Don’t expect web analytics to be uber-accurate. Instead look for trends in the data. We try and provide advanced visualizations try and help you with seeing nuggets through the data – e.g. Treemap Reports
8) Segmenting your audience is hugely important. If you can identify users that do things on your site differently from others, you have an opportunity to communicate more incisively with them.
9) Educate your business in ways they understand! You may be the only one in your company that really knows what’s going on on your site. To a senior manager “bounce rate” will mean little, but reporting upwards in terms of “lost customers” or “potential leads down the pan” will get their attention.
10) Listen and read! Whether it’s Avinash Kaushik, Ian Thomas or Bryan Eisenberg’s blog or interviews with Jim Sterne or Vanessa Fox – there are hundreds of really great resources out there to help you get the most out of your analytical efforts.
Here's to another year of actionable insight!
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