7 Website Analytics Mistakes to Avoid

By Laura Rives — Tuesday, December 1st, 2015 at 11:00am
Website Analytics Mistakes to Avoid

While most marketers recognize the importance of web analytics, few would claim to be experts. This is partially due to the fact that the ability to interpret data is a skill that takes time to develop. Let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes that beginners to web analytics tend to make.

1. Over-emphasizing pageviews

One of the first data points you see when you log into Google Analytics is your pageviews. This is one of the easiest concepts to understand, but it is also one of the most misinterpreted. Too many marketers and stakeholders latch on to page views as the end-all be-all for measuring site performance. The first mistake is to just look at pageviews without establishing context. What does 25,000 pageviews mean? How does that number compare to last month? Last quarter? Last year? More importantly, are you able to determine why the numbers are what they are? Are you able to correlate your actions with your results?

Another mistake marketers commonly make in regard to pageviews is taking them at face value without considering other information. For example, does the time spent on each page indicate your audience actually consumed your content? Or did they visit and leave immediately because your content didn’t meet their expectations or because you attracted the wrong audience? What percentage of your page views can be attributed to bots crawling your site?

2. Misinterpreting bounce rates

Your bounce rate measures the percentage of visitors who come to a page on your site and immediately leave. Tracking bounce rates can be incredibly helpful in determining whether you’re attracting the right audience and providing the types of content they’re looking for. It’s important not to jump to conclusions if you don’t see the results you were expecting. For example, it would make sense for your blog posts to have higher than average bounce rates as it isn’t uncommon for your audience to read your latest post then leave the site. With all analytics data, being able to identify the cause of your results is key. So, when you observe that the bounce rate for a specific page is unusually high, take a look at that page to make sure your page has an effective call to action. It’s important to make sure you have the next steps mapped out for your visitor.

3. Ignoring your business objectives

All too often, marketers report on analytics data without determining what the data means for your business goals. Similarly, rookie marketers often set goals without knowing what their organization’s business objectives are. The number of visitors, sessions, or pageviews is not a true business goal. However, these statistics can be used to monitor whether you’re on track to meet your business goals, which is exactly what you need to focus on.

When determining your web marketing goals and reporting on your analytics, you should always tie everything back to your business objectives, such as growth rate and revenue.

4. Not establishing conversion goals

One of the most powerful indicators of whether you’re on track to achieve your goals is to set up and monitor conversion goals in Google Analytics. You can create four different types of goals:

  1. Destination tracks whether a visitor landed on a particular page, such as a Thank You page or Confirmation page.

  1. Duration measures how much time a visitor spends on your site. This is an indication of how much your audience engages with your content.

  1. Pages Per Visit provides you with a way to determine how effectively you’ve mapped your visitor journeys.

  1. Events allow you to track whether a visitor took an action you wanted them to take, such as viewing a video or downloading a file.

Conversion Goals can be one of the most powerful metrics you’ll have, as they show whether your target audience interacts with your site the way you intended. This information allows you to better grasp whether you’re on track to meet your business objectives.

5. Excluding other channels

In order to gain a deeper understanding of the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, it’s crucial to not just focus on the analytics for your website, but to do your best to measure all of your efforts in a holistic manner. This includes tracking (and reporting on) all of your social media channels, your email marketing campaigns, your events, and even your print collateral. Having a toolset in place that can help you associate all your marketing collateral and tasks as pertaining to one or more campaigns will not only be a time-saver but will also optimize your reporting and help elevate your marketing to the next level.

6. Monitoring your data too infrequently

As an agile marketer, you probably strive to execute your strategy in small iterations. After each sprint, you look at your results and determine what worked and what didn’t, before you plan your next installation. Rookie marketers sometimes lack the confidence to make adjustments quickly out of fear this could lead stakeholders to question their competence. As a result, they often don’t monitor their analytics as frequently as they should and, therefore, fail to realize in a timely manner if they’re on the wrong path. Don’t fall into this trap! Instead, explain the benefits of agile marketing to your stakeholders and outline how frequently you will report on your analytics. It is critical to empower yourself to make changes quickly so you can become more effective with every iteration of your marketing strategy.

7. Foregoing opportunities for experimentation

One of the main benefits of leveraging analytics is to be able to correlate your actions with your results. This allows you to continue doing what works, and to stop doing things that don’t work. One of agile marketing’s primary concepts is to experiment and not be afraid to fail. Don’t forego the experimentation opportunities that analytics data provides you. If at first, you don’t succeed, try and try again.

What about you? Do you encourage a data-driven culture at your organization? What are the top insights you glean from website analytics?


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