This is to date the best analogy I have for what tools like Google Analytics can do for your digital marketing.
Imagine that you work in a mine. Your goal is to extract gold. You can chose between a number of tools but you can only carry one at a time. Which one do you start with?
A jack hammer which will allow you to dig deeper into the mine.
A wheelbarrow to carry all the gold you might find.
A map to find your way in the mine.
Presented like this, the choice is obvious. There is no need for a hammer or wheelbarrow if you don’t know where to go. By finding your way and learn more about the mine, you can then chose which tools to bring next time.
In the same way, analytics is used to find opportunities (or issues) – before you decide which tool to use to really dig those out.
Know what you want to analyse
Analytics is commonly used as a simple reporting tool – “Look at what happened last week!” But it could be used as a map to guide your future moves. You always have a goal in mind for your website. The challenge is to clearly define that goal and create a strategy around it. During workshops we usually find that companies have goals but haven’t communicated them clearly or don’t measure their success. Instead they produce huge and awesome looking reports that serves little insight to the marketing team. As in the analogy, with a map (i.e. Google Analytics…) you can define areas you need to improve before you decide how to improve it.
If we stick to the analogy for a while. Imagine that we used the map in the same way we often use Google Analytics – in an un-maximized way. A report would then highlight how many tunnels there are, how long they are, and how much time the miners spend in them. Surely, a better report would use the map to mark which tunnels should be more visible, made wider, where to improve the signs in the mine etc. to ensure the miners find what they’re looking for. The number of tunnels won’t help them do that.
Let analytics guide your decisions
Companies often make assumption that a design tweak, SEO or UX will improve their site. The simple answer is, yes, it will improve your site if it has the desired outcome. This is where it often becomes problematic. There is rarely an understanding of what the desired outcome is or should be. Design, SEO and UX can work wonders but should follow a clear understanding of what it is that should be achieved. By first analysing the current situation, it will be much easier to not only decide which tool to use, but how to use them.
Back to the analogy (bear with me…). You wouldn’t simply bring a jack hammer and hope to strike gold. In the same way – you shouldn’t simply “improve” the design and hope that you will reach your goals.
You will get back the time you spend analysing your site as you can define areas of improvement more quickly and effectively. With a clear understanding of what it is you want to improve on your site, the easier it will be to both analyse and improve.
If you need a hand figuring this out, don’t be a stranger!