Analytics are usually a polarising topic, stereotypically we have two elements- the ‘numbers people’ and then the ‘content people’. The pattern goes, as I’m sure you can guess, that the numbers people love analytics. They can’t get enough of them whilst the content people, well, they don’t even know they exist- right?
Well actually, that’s not true. So if that sounds anything remotely like what you currently experience then you need to change things up and shift those ideas. Analytics are an incredibly powerful tool and most importantly they benefit the ‘content people’ the most!
If you love creating content or running engaging campaigns, how do you know if the imagery you designed or words you wrote are resonating with the reader? How do you know the reader is actually who you wanted the reader to be? The answer- Stone cold data. (I’m really trying hard to resist the urge to make a Stone Cold Steve Austin reference, but mainly out of fear that no one will recognise this and you’ll think that ‘bottom line’ is referring to profits or ‘3:16’ to the time.)
Data is only as good as the context with it
Firstly, I wanted to put that heading in quotation marks but seeing as it’s something that I have repeatedly said to people I work with I can’t quite face quoting myself. Not just yet at least.
What I mean by this is that data in any form is actually useless unless you know what has happened around the data, what has influenced the data or how you can use the data moving forward. For example, simply listing the percentage of web users on mobile vs desktop is pointless information alone, however if you’re using it to manage upwards and justify a new mobile website due to high volumes of traffic, or to pitch the use of an app as you have mobile engaged customers then suddenly that data becomes amazingly powerful.
If you monitor your analytics daily you’ll have a much better understanding of the context which surrounds what you’re seeing. Campaigns or specific posts will be fresh in your mind, as will any potential referral links from influencers for example. This means that you’ll be in much more control of the context, as well as looking at the numbers.
Allows up to date edits or changes
This is a straight forward point, if you’re running a longer term campaign over, lets say, a two week period then you can check your analytics on a daily basis and understand how that campaign is working- whilst it’s running!
Then what? Well you either see the data is strong and you’re happy that your marketing is working as intended, you give yourself a pat on the back, go to your employer and tell them how great you are. Well, maybe not the last bit, but give yourself a pat on the back for sure. The other option is that you see the data isn’t as good as you were hoping and therefore the campaign isn’t working. At this point you make some edits to improve the campaign before the disappointment spreads too far or runs for too long, then you get examples of your work and take them to your boss to show them how great you are! And of course you give yourself a pat on the back.
There is genuinely huge value in showing your manager both the data and the edits it has resulted in. Your manager will become confident that you’re in control of the situation and it also justifies your time spent monitoring the analytics.
Patterns are easier to spot
This maps back to my first point, with daily monitoring you are able to witness and experience the patterns that occur with your customers. Let’s say you increase your email marketing after hiring a new designer who has made all your e-mail content easier on the eye and more functional. Despite these improvements you may still be unsure of the best design for your customers, so you trial several different designs over a two month period. Daily monitoring will allow you to see in real time which designs, links or copy are working the most effectively for your customers. This means that by month two you’ve already got a good idea of how your future email campaigns should look, the number of web traffic you can expect to see because of this and the type of language which resonates with your audience.
If you’re witnessing patterns on a regular basis this is guaranteed to make your future marketing much more effective and will probably save you time in future design or creation of online communication. How? Simple- you’ll know what people respond to, and importantly, you’ll know what they don’t respond to!
You'll feel more in control
It’s easy to forget or to find yourself too busy to monitor any data on a daily basis, and in the instance where you check analytical programs on a weekly or monthly routine you’ll most likely feel a little bewildered and unsure of where to start with what’s in front of you. What happens next? Well, usually nothing happens. And that’s the issue, you may have too much data to work through or simply not know where to begin. So in the end you screenshot a list of cities which dominate your web traffic and send them to your manager, proud at your new found knowledge that Rochdale of all places contributes a whopping 31.7% of all UK web traffic.
What happens if you monitor your traffic daily? These big chunks of information become easier to break down, you could set yourself specific areas to monitor on a daily basis- for example Tuesday might be a device day, Wednesday might be a bounce rate day and Thursday might be a city breakdown, where you now find out that Rochdale’s success was short lived, they’ve been knocked off the top post by the mighty Carlisle! Okay so it’s unlikely that Rochdale or Carlisle will ever be battling for your top share of UK visits, but monitor your analytics daily and maybe one day out of the 365 will provide a miracle. Maybe. Probably not.
Data is monitored not reported
This terminology is key, the difference between monitoring and reporting is simple- a report is printed off or presented digitally and shared with other members of your team, whilst monitoring suggests an on-going practice where changes are made based on the information found.
With this in mind it becomes very difficult, and a little pointless might I add, to ‘report’ on a daily basis. However monitoring your traffic or engagement and using this information to alter your upcoming activities becomes hugely valuable. This applies for both web analytics and also social media analytics.
Understanding how the numbers can improve your efforts will only save you time and increase the success you face in the future. So go on, roll your sleeves up and get stuck in- you’ll be amazed at what you find.