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Making the most of website analytics

Created: 21 Feb 2013 • Updated: 10 Oct 2013 • 2 comments
Andy Horbury's picture
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Following on from our recent webinar on the theme of website optimisation we have developed a series of three blog posts that discuss website optimisation. These are high level blogs and not intended to be all encompassing but rather have been designed to kick start thoughts on concepts such as tips to keep your website safe, SEO and in this final post, website analytics.....

How to make the most of website analytics

Website analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, Optimizely or Mint, are invaluable tools when it comes to guiding your marketing and website development but only if you know how to make the most of the data they provide.

Resisting temptation: Vanity metrics

The term vanity metrics was coined by author Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup. They are numbers like raw page views or registered users, which always make the graph go up and which sound impressive, but rarely tell you anything valuable. As TechCrunch points out, vanity metrics aren’t completely useless as they give you an indication of traction, “just don’t be fooled by them”.

Dig deeper: real metrics

Instead, concentrate on metrics that help you make decisions. Actionable metrics tell you what is working and what is, so you can tweak your site and repeat success. For example, you can measure conversions from organic search, or analyse which pages generate the most conversions.

Measure twice, cut once

The next step is to understand what causes the results you see. One page may outperform another but the real question is why? And how do you get it do even better. It could be the bigger font, or the fact that there is less writing, or maybe it’s the image.

One answer is A/B testing. Use a tool such as Google Content Experiments or Optimizely to set up several different versions of a web page, each one changing a single element. Then enter your desired objective, such as sales or signups. The testing tool will send some visitors to the different pages at random and analyse what they do afterwards. Many Symantec customers have used analytics to understand the value that website security can bring to their site - such as testing the impact of Always on SSL, or the impact a trust seal can have on website conversions.

Once you have had enough visitors the tool will tell you which version has been the most successful. Ideally you want a tool that will also assess the statistical validity of that outcome, so that you know you are not changing your web design based on a statistical fluke.

The combination of actionable metrics and A/B testing is a powerful way of improving your website’s effectiveness.

To accompany this post we’ve developed an eBook that can be downloaded here


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geimerson ramos batista's picture

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McLaughlanCraig's picture
When crafting your internet strategy, it is always a good habit to start with understanding where you are right now and what your direction will be. A lot of web analytic strategists miss out this point, and just right what is in between. That is why, it is always good make the most of your website analytics before you plunge yourself into the various strategies and just be blindsided. 
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