A lot is being said these days about data, analytics and the ability to use the insights from this data to drive business decisions and desired business outcomes. However, many small businesses, heck many large business, don’t know where to begin on the road to deriving actionable insights from their web data.
1. Install a web analytics package. For small businesses, I recommend Google Analytics. While the software itself is free, there are definitely costs in terms of time and expertise required for setup. However, GA is currently most full featured (for the price) and easy to use package around.
2. Define your desired business outcomes. As a business, this is probably something you have most likely already done. These can be as simple as ‘grow the business’, ‘develop long term relationships with your clients’, or ‘support post sales’.
3. Map your web site strategies to your desired business outcomes. This may take a little more thinking and may involve input from multiple stakeholders. The goal of this exercise is to determine why your web site exists and how it support your desired business outcomes. How does your website support growing the business? Does it generate leads, or sales via ecommerce? Are you creating fresh content to help nurture your customer relationships? Maybe you have an FAQ or QA forum that supports post sales questions. Whatever your strategies are, they should be directly mapped to your desired business outcomes.
4. Develop a measurement framework. This is the heart and soul of web analytics. The key to being able to evaluate the success or failures of your web strategies is through a framework of KPIs (key performance indicators) that provide insight into how your web strategies are performing. There is a lot more to be said about KPIs, but the key here is that you want to make sure that you KPIs provide insights that are actionable. The number of users to your site in and of itself is not actionable, however segment those users by channel, and you can quickly see which marketing campaigns are bringing users to your site and provides actionable data.
There are many additional details to consider in regards to the actual tracking implementation, but the steps outlined above will provide you a framework from which to begin your web analytics journey.