12th November, 2014 by Dave McRobbie

Making Online Analytics Work For Your Business.

Any business, from Microsoft to your village greengrocers, from John Lewis to the local window cleaner have a level of understanding about their clients - what sells, what services their customers demand, what equipment and skills they require to deliver their services and so on.

Each business will have different mechanisms for gaining this understanding – be these CRM systems, surveys or (can you believe it) actually talking face to face with clients………

So data (and specifically customer data) can be captured and analysed in many different ways and the outputs and subsequent impact(s) of analysing this data have been dependent on the capabilities and resources that a business has available to act on any findings.

Although the advent on online services and digital channels has fundamentally disrupted many historical business principles, the elementary need to still understand your customer behaviour and their ‘wants’ are just as (if not more) crucial in the online world for your organisations development.

This is where online analytical tools can (if integrated into your business processes) provide real, core value. There are many different analytical tools available for measuring online behaviour. From eye tracking to hot-spotting’ to ‘click-throughs’ to a user’s browsing history – almost all customer interactions can be monitored.

But as a starting point let’s focus on one – Google (Universal) Analytics.

I need to state from the off that I am personally (this is not the view of my marvellous employers by the way………), not a major fan of Google. I find their message of “Don’t be Evil” a little unnerving – in fact by saying “Don’t be Evil”, they make me think they are in fact trying to hide something…..

However, one major admiration that I do have for them is their amazing success at creating new markets - going on to not only dominate them and set the rules to which all other ‘players’ have to adhere to - think about Search, Google Maps, Android operating system etc.

Another example is the area of online analytics – here they did not exactly create their own market – as I’ve mentioned - detailed research, customer experience reporting and business intelligence have (in one form or another) existed for hundreds of years. But they did (and continue to) redefine the methods of the recording of data, making it more granular and therefore relevant (ignoring (if we can) for now the questions of this approach on personal privacy…………).

This expertise and the analytical framework that Google have created in Google Universal Analytics (GA from now on), open up a whole area of business and customer intelligence for online interactions and user behaviour. They have to some extent ‘levelled the playing field’ in providing organisations of all sizes, the basic tools to understand how their online customer base ‘behave’.

So how can you start to benefit from these available tools?

Well, we need to complete some initial tasks well before we get anywhere near GA. Some of these steps are fundamental to your business – but there is no point in completing any analytical work if you are not clear over what you are measuring and why you are measuring it and what your overall objectives and outcomes are from completing the work.

How to start with online analytics;

1) Review your existing online offering and think what you really want to achieve with it. Make sure your objectives are documented.

2) Make sure that your website objectives fit into your business plans. If they don’t update your business plan (seriously).

3) Create a website strategy from your web and business objectives. These will have become clear in step 2.

4) Include measures of success in your website strategy. For example, more sales, more newsletter sign-ups etc. These measures of success are called ‘conversions’ in GA!

5) Sign-up to GA. http://www.google.com/analytics/

6) Insert code that GA generates into your website (don’t worry its not too technical).

7) Leave it a few days.

8) Sign back into Google Analytics and take a look at the basic reports. This will enable you to see some core analytical data on the use of your site, which is, as a starting point very useful.

9) Take the time to start to understand what GA is telling you with this core data for example;

   a. What pages are the most/least popular?

   b. Are users searching on your site?

   c. How many visitors are accessing your site in total

   d. What browsers are they using

10) Step back and breathe – you’ve achieved a lot..

Moving forward

By following the above steps you can begin to understand your online services, how they are being used and most importantly how they feed into and affect your business.

You can then look to implement changes (in your business and online) and increase the detail of your analysis to provide you with a greater level of insight.

We’ll look into how to interpret your analytical findings to implement change, how to increase the detail of your GA set-up and other online analytical tools in the soon to be published (!) part two of this high level overview of what online analytics can do for your business.

Google Universal Analytics

About author

Dave McRobbie

The silver-haired fox has an incredible ability to be both pragmatic and innovational whilst providing award winning solutions for our clients. He loves cereal and "The Fast Show".

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