Whether you’re pushing a new app, marketing your consultancy, or selling products online, managing Web analytics is a serious priority.
You’re a digital entrepreneur, after all. Collecting and analyzing data about your Website traffic is a big part of maintaining a presence online. It’s how you make calculated marketing decisions that help your business grow.
Unfortunately, analytics apps strike many an entrepreneur as complicated and time-consuming. And if you’re trying one out for the first time, it’s easy to become frustrated with the tools’ many idiosyncrasies and ignore your data entirely.
Here are five ways to prevent that scenario from playing out:
1. Pick a single tool.
Don’t make things harder than they are. Just use one tool.
If you’re tracking Website traffic, stick to Google Analytics and don’t bother with any of the more robust (i.e. unnecessarily robust) paid alternatives. For social media analytics, bit.ly should suffice for measuring the number of clicks you get when you tweet links.
Trying to learn multiple tools isn’t just a recipe for frustration – it’s also a huge time suck. And when you’re in business for yourself, the cliché “time is money” couldn’t be more true to life.
2. Limit the number of metrics you track.
Okay, you’ve chosen your analytics tool. It probably tracks umpteen thousand different things. Do you really need to monitor everything? Really?
Of course you don’t. It’s a good rule of thumb to track just three or four things. That way, you don’t have to think too hard on days when you’re analyzing data and using it to plot your course going forward.
As long as one of the metrics you track is the conversion rate – that is, the percentage of visitors who actually take action on whatever it is you’re telling them to do – you’re good. Additional things you might want to monitor are where your visitors come from, which keywords bring you the most search traffic, and what days more people visit your site.
Or not. Choose metrics to track according to your situation. Just don’t overdo it.
Email marketing apps, for instance, generally focus on three or four different things to demonstrate the success of a campaign: open rate, bounce rate, and clicks. Use that same model – the one based on limited metrics – when planning your Website analytics approach.
3. Create a simple, reasonable analytics calendar.
So, when are you going to analyze all this tracking data? Daily? Think again.
If you check your stats every day, you’re going to be extremely disappointed. Unless you’re in the midst of some big marketing campaign, not much will even change from day to day. Logging into Google Analytics and mulling over everything will be time-consuming and won’t yield much food for thought.
Instead, create a Web analytics calendar that averages about one serious data analysis session per week. And make it a 10-minute session. Seriously.
Because if you’re not tracking many metrics and you’ve accepted that you’re not going to see much change if you check stats any more frequently than once a week, it shouldn’t take that long to look at your numbers and get a grasp of where you stand.
Afterwards, feel free to use that data to modify your approach. Just don’t try to analyze and change things on a daily basis. It will wear you out – fast.
4. Share data with your circle.
Do you work with contractors or freelancers? Do you have business associates who are involved in marketing activities?
If the answer is yes, you’ve got to share your data. Just as it’s important for you to know what’s going on Web traffic-wise, your partners need to know what’s going on as well.
Any content creators, Web developers, or designers you work with especially need to know how your traffic level stands so they can enhance their efforts and help your business grow. At the very least, work an analytics discussion into your periodic meetings or teleconferences so that everyone’s on the same page.
5. Ignore data almost entirely for the first few months.
Then there’s this: If you’re just getting started with your Website, don’t even fool with analytics for the first few months.
Cutting through the noise and ignoring all the “sage advice” from “industry veterans” about the importance of data can be difficult, but you’ll save yourself a heap of time and trouble if you do. Why? Because new Websites have no traffic to monitor. None. Zilch. Zero.
To attract visitors, you have to actually do something. Develop a digital marketing game plan and carry it out. Even then, building up traffic takes months – sometimes years. Why rack your brain analyzing stats when there’s almost nothing to analyze?
In the wide, wonderful world of online marketing, a little discipline can go a long way. Use a measured approach when it comes to Web analytics, and you’ll have more time to devote to productive activities.
Author bio: Aidan Grayson is a tech junkie who writes about entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and startup culture. He contributed this post on behalf of the big data analytics prodigies at Revolution Analytics.