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Top 5 Mistakes When Looking at Analytics

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Google Analytics contains a lot of information and while it can be overwhelming, remembering these top 5 mistakes may help save you from a data disaster down the road.

  1. The first mistake I see is not looking at your data frequently. We know that things happen and looking at your data in Google Analytics may not be on the top of your “to do” list, but it should be.  Understanding what data or reports you should be looking at on a day-to-day basis can both (a) help save time so you’re not fishing through mountains of data, and (b) provide you the opportunity to catch any outliers such as peaks and valleys before a problem persists too long. These kinds of outliers could be indicative of potential issues with your website, campaigns, or possibly successes on marketing initiatives that you would want to capitalize on or replicate quickly, but if you’re not looking at the data regularly you could miss them.
  1. This leads me into the second mistake I see most often which is not having enough data to make an informed decision. Although Google Analytics is a great tool it is not going to be able to tell you the future. Making decisions based on something that doesn’t have a lot of data or enough time behind it can also spell DISASTER. You want to make sure that when you are running new marketing initiatives or launching a new website that if you don’t see a lot of traction at first you need to be skeptical of rushing to action. Unless there is a major traffic drop or anomaly, give your users time to experience and engage with the changes before you make additional ones. When you do have enough data, allow it to help drive your next update(s).
  1. Mistake three is not looking at the right reports (or metrics). Like I’ve said previously, Google Analytics contains a lot of data and this can be overwhelming. Understanding a few simple questions to ask yourself may help pinpoint the reports you need or need to build. A few examples are:

    • What reports do I need in order to tell the story of our marketing efforts better?

      • This question may help you formulate whether you can use a standard report or if you need to build a custom report to showcase the data you are seeking.
    • What are you wanting to find?

      • Google Analytics reporting is broken down into 4 main sections:

        1. Audience – who your audience is (demographics, device, info, etc.)
        2. Acquisition – how you acquired your visitors (where did they come from?).
        3. Behavior – what are you visitors doing on your website/ what they are interested in?
        4. Conversions – including goals/ KPIs, ecommerce, and attribution.
        5. Remembering what each of these sections means can help you pinpoint where you need to go.

    • What are your KPIs or goals?

      • If you haven’t already defined goals in Google Analytics this is a great place to start. What is the best actions do you want visitors to take when they come to your website?
  1. Now that you have the correct reports with all of the information you need, don’t forget to do avoid mistake four which is not leveraging a human touch (and not annotating big wins / changes / loses). More times than not I don’t see annotations being applied or used within Analytics accounts. What’s missing is annotating things like Big wins with successful marketing campaigns that spiked traffic and goal completions; or changes to the website such as a redesign or issues that caused traffic had dropped. These all should be annotated within Analytics so that others within your organization can have these insights when looking at your data. This is extremely helpful when comparing YoY and assessing peaks and valleys.
  1. The final, fifth mistake I see is not taking action. Correcting tracking issues or deploying new tracking methods are keys to success and further optimization of your marketing efforts. When you see goal conversions dropping or not happening at all, get in there and fix the goal or Contact Us to help. Whether it’s a simple fix like a misplaced regular expression or a URL that was changed and never updated within the goal, or something more complex going on, the most important thing is to collect accurate and complete data so you can make good decisions on your marketing and website efforts. So, get in there and make the changes!

Remembering these top 5 mistakes will help you avoid common pitfalls when it comes to Analytics and your data.

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