Analytics in an Hour: 5 Tips for Busy Entrepreneurs
Editor’s Note: We welcome Feras Alhlou as our newest contributor. He’s the principal consultant and co-founder of E-Nor, a leading analytics and measurement firm. Alhlou’s first piece, below, addresses how to quickly utilize analytics to improve your website and marketing initiatives.
If you only have a limited amount of time each week to focus on analytics, here are five tips to get you going in the right direction.
1. Make the Commitment to Analytics
Make the time and effort to measure and improve all major digital marketing initiatives. Determine whether this is something you’re able to commit to yourself, hire someone to help, or seek the help of a trusted consultant. The point here is in order to get a better return you must put forth the effort.
2. Prioritize on the Most Important Marketing Initiatives
These days, businesses of all sizes utilize search marketing, email marketing, display advertising, and other forms of online marketing. But if you’re doing all these, where do you focus your analytics efforts? The key here is to know where to start. Find the channel where you are spending the most money and effort, and prioritize accordingly. If the majority of your budget is being spent on Google AdWords, then that’s where you should be monitoring the performance of your campaigns, ads and keywords. I have seen many AdWords accounts that are started with enthusiasm, but soon end up in the “set and forget” mode. Don’t let this happen. Keep an eye on your keywords. Are they driving traffic? Is this traffic qualified? Determine which keywords are driving leads and/or sales and which are underperforming. For best results, make frequent enhancements to your targeting and ad copy.
3. Focus on Outcomes
Try not to get overly excited about how many visits, unique visitors, or how many page views your site gets. Focus on results that impact your bottom line. If your site is ecommerce based, pay close attention to where sales are coming from, which marketing channel brings the highest order purchases, among other metrics. If you generate leads through your site, ensure you know where the qualified leads are coming from. Go back to the initial reason you created the website. Review your site’s purpose and goals and then focus on making sure these outcomes are inline.
4. Report on What Matters
Once you’ve determined what metrics you want to monitor, derive insights as efficiently as possible. Manage your analytics data by setting up detections for when a significant change occurs. Watch and monitor these reports consistently. If you’re using Google Analytics — and who isn’t these days? — you can easily set up “Intelligence Alerts” to automatically flag issues and bring them to your attention. This allows you more time to focus on strategic work, and less time on monitoring traffic and conversions. Remember, don’t do this and let it go into “set and forget” mode. It’s important to consistently watch your numbers and respond accordingly.
Once you’ve compiled your data, you can now put it into one comprehensive presentation. Pull together all the data that matters to you — social media, pay-per-click advertising, offline marketing — and bring into one reporting interface where it can be organized and useful. There are plenty of tools out there that can provide this type of service. If you are just starting, check out ShufflePoint. It allows you to export Google Analytics data and easily integrate into Excel or PowerPoint.
Now that your reports are available, automate them. Choose a tool that sends the information directly to your email inbox or dashboard or database or the cloud. Choose key performance indicators, set up your automatic reports and analyze the data as it comes through.
By being proactive and beginning with the end in mind, optimizing your marketing programs isn’t that hard to start, or keep up with. Your overall goal is to analyze what is needed to improve your business in the long run. Keep these five tips in mind with any marketing and digital initiative. Not only will you better understand your visitors, but you’ll also improve overall site performance and achieve a higher return-on-investment for your marketing initiatives. And once you’ve got this formula in place, it’s easier to have analytics in an hour.