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June 28, 2013

How to Accurately Measure Your Site’s Metrics – Part 2

In part 1 of our comprehensive new-world metrics study, we covered the top reasons marketers need to analyze their site’s performance, the process and benefits of a more holistic perspective, and the best way to develop a measurement plan.

Part 2 will outline best practices with Google Analytics, comprehensive definitions of full credit measurement strategies, and the intricacies of using attribution to guide your campaign strategies. By employing these modern analytical perspectives, you will benefit from current best practices in the art of site analytics. The more you know about your site’s strengths and weaknesses, the more power you have to create the results you’re after. So let’s get started!

Getting the Most Out of Google Analytics

Although there are many, many tools that help us analyze and interpret a site’s metrics, most of us use Google Analytics on at least a top-level basis. The following tips will help you make the most of this comprehensive program, since it’s the most popular one available, and features loads of excellent tools.

1) Integrate Google Analytics properly with your site. This is the biggest mistake most companies make, as many integrations are only pulling in basic data. Google Analytics has the capacity to report very granular and compound metrics, but only if you achieve proper installation. If you have questions, access the help section for Google Analytics here.

2) Pay close attention to sources. Understanding where your traffic is coming from is just as important as knowing how much traffic you’re getting. Sources don’t just include the URLs or search terms, but the device used as well. It’s been shown there are vastly different search habits on tablets, smartphones, and laptops, so you’ll need to segment your results in this fashion to learn the whole story.

3) Make in-page analytics your new best metrics friend. Under the Traffic Sources tab you’ll find a feature called in-page analytics. This feature showcases a box next to every link listed which reveals the percentage of people who clicked the respective link from the corresponding page. This is invaluable information for online stores and lead generation sites that need to know what pages are generating the most interest; these are your hubs for promotions and calls to action.

4) Utilize all of the various Analytics tools. The many Google Analytics features let you see how users are actually interacting with your site. For example, you should definitely be tracking the following:

  • Multi-channel funnels – Lets you view every factor that influenced your conversions.
  • Mobile users and applications – Segments your audience by device so you can understand the special needs and behaviors of laptop, smartphone, and tablet users.
  • Social analytics – Reveals how social media is contributing to your site’s metrics.

The Power of Full Credit Measurement and Attribution

Full credit measurement attitudes in metrics analysis means you make it your goal to understand where each customer is coming from. This information allows you to assign value to each of these channels, and assess the impact of each route.

According to a recent Google report, 72% of marketers agree that attribution allows experts to make better budget decisions with their chosen campaigns. The crazy thing is only 56% of marketers report that they are actually using attribution to calculate these strategies. Attribution should absolutely be a part of your metrics analysis – it simply refers to the practice of assigning credit to different channels. Channels have different values for different sites and industries, and it’s in each marketer’s best interest to analyze how they relate to the successes and failures of their business.

These days, marketers can feel overwhelmed by current tasks and the plethora of tools – attribution analysis should land at the top of your list when looking at your site’s performance. Why is attribution so critical? It helps you solve two main challenges:

1) Cross channel media mix. The top channels many of us look at are visual displays, email, searches, and conversions. Attribution helps you fully understand how each of these has value to your company’s marketing efforts.

2) Inter-channel optimization. Inter-channel analysis involves examining the following:

  • Generic search
  • Brand search
  • Conversion

Optimization of this analysis means that you’ll look at how you’re conducting your search campaigns, and which segments should be adjusted in your efforts to reach the customer during different touch points. Understanding that the role of search is to fully experience the customer’s journey to your site, inter-channel analysis helps you have all your data in one place so you can trace the entire lifecycle.

The Right Way to Think About Attribution

In the old days, we approached attribution from a “last click” perspective – that is, whatever the customer clicked last before they made a purchase or completed a required action. Looking solely at last click misses the entire first part of the journey.

The new way to approach this analysis should depend on your customers and goals. Other models include “first click”, which tracks the very first action that resulted in engagement, and “u-shaped”, the predominant selection, as this one encourages an integration and holistic view of first, middle, and last clicks.

Regardless of the model you choose, a full measurement view of the customer’s life cycle should always be your goal. Make sure to create benchmarking that helps you understand what’s working well for your site, and what needs improvements. This is best achieved by comparing your site to others in your industry, looking at current campaigns and the results of past similar strategies, and taking stock of how you’re stacking up against your top competitors. Analytics is no longer just a game of details; top marketers are looking at macro and micro segments of their data so they might understand the full story of a customer’s experience.

Digital producer, game designer, Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs, Tina Courtney-Brown has been shaping online businesses since 1996. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, social networks and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and true cooking diva. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.