How to Use Analytics to Make Sense of Your Audience Data
If your company has a website that was designed using a reputable design tool or by a professional web-design firm, the chances are you have access to a nice selection of analytical data. If not, there could be a variety of software packages that can be integrated with your website for the purpose of collecting data and providing the analysis you need. Analytical tools are intended to help you determine the effectiveness of your website, especially the marketing and sales components. If you are serious as business owner about improving your company’s overall profitability, using these tools will go a long way in helping you identify your company’s strengths and weaknesses.
The Importance of Analytics
Without the availability of analytics, you as a business owner and/or manager are left operating in the dark. The ability to determine the effectiveness of the company’s website and marketing program(s) will be severely hampered, making it near impossible for you to determine what’s working and what’s not. By extracting and organizing the available data in a meaningful way, you should be able to establish a clear picture about the reality of your company’s performance. Where weaknesses or problems are indicated, you will have the opportunity to make the necessary changes, putting your marketing programs more in line with company’s goals and expectations.
How to Use Analytics to Make Sense of Your Audience DataIf you lack experience dealing with business analysis techniques, it would be very beneficial for you to learn the proper way to use analytics as a means to assess the performance.
1. Collecting Data – In most cases, e-commerce website software packages come with the ability to collect data related to audience traffic, lead generation and sales conversions. If your website comes without the analytical tools you need, you might want to consider buying an integrated software package that allows your to accumulate and organize the data that’s available from places like your web and CGI logs. In a worse case scenario, you might have to use spreadsheet programs and accumulate your data manually. Regardless of which option you use, the goal is to gather all the relevant data about your company’s marketing and sales efforts into one central location for easy extraction.
2. Developing Useful Reports
Without a series of useful reports, raw data has little meaning for company owners/managers. Most professionally designed e-commerce websites and marketing software packages provide analytical tools with a selection of canned or standard reporting options also available. As a business owner, it’s worth the time and effort to look at the available reports. By doing so, you should be able to determine whether or not they provide you with the information you deem necessary to track the website’s performance and effectiveness. If canned reports are insufficient or non-existent, you might have access to some type of report writer that allows you to design custom reports that meet your needs. The idea is to find a way to extract and organize audience data in a way that is easy for you to understand and evaluate. Once you have located or designed the reports you need, it will become infinitely easier to manage your website and marketing program(s) and make the necessary adjustments.
3. Interpreting Your Data – Once you have access to the reports you need, you want to be able to understand exactly what the numbers mean. If the reports are designed properly, you should have some type of comparison between company goals and actual performance. For example: You might have a new marketing program that is expected to increase site traffic by 10%. If you deem that to be important information, your reports should be designed to report it. If the data says your company is not meeting its goal, it should prompt you to dig deeper into the numbers to find out why. Once you find the cause, you can the necessary adjustment(s). This would be the same process you would use to interpret all the numbers you consider relevant to effectively running the company.
4. Types of Data to Consider– From raw data, you should have the ability to answer a wide range of questions about performance. In an e-commerce environment, you might want to know things like:
- Which pages get the most traffic?
- Which advertising programs generate the most traffic for the website?
- How long does your audience browse the site?
- Which search engines or websites does your audience find your site through?
- What percentage of your audience becomes a paying customer?
Once you have the data properly organized and understand what the numbers mean, you will find it easier to make effective business decisions. It’s near impossible for a company to become profitable while operating in the dark, and analytics are the key to lighting the way to profitability.