The usage of web analytics has become quite common today. With its efficacy of being the best measurement of success for a website, it is now used by a large number of businesses, regardless if those are small blogs or huge e-commerce platforms. Owing to this widespread popularity, web analytics tools that were previously saturated in the hands of only a few professionals are not easily available to even the most novice webmaster.
While this is not necessarily a negative in this industry, because useful tools should be available to everyone, it has led to the misrepresentation of many metrics and judgment calls that alter this process in a drastic way. On the internet, many myths and guesswork ideas have been developed and circulated, all of which can seriously misguide a business owner who wants web analytics to truly work for the website.
In light of this trend, it becomes increasingly important for webmasters to be aware of the most common mistakes and pitfalls of web analytics that most people end up committing. Web analytics data is hardly ever in strict black and white terms. There are a lot of gray areas and immense room for informed judgments because at the end of the day, what you are trying to measure, i.e. online behavior of visitors and customers, is highly unpredictable and very subjective.
Mistakes to avoid
Focusing on the wrong metrics
If you have put together a wrong set of metrics to measure the success of your website, web analytics will barely yield a result. Many businesses solely focus on metrics that are either popular across the board, or are focused too strongly on what users do. Understand that the actual question is ‘Why users do what they do?’
Expecting the results to be obvious
Simply implementing analytics does not mean you will get the results and insights immediately. It takes work and effort to dig out the results from the figures and statistics of the analysis. Many experts call web analytics a detective work because the results are never obvious.
Relying on one tool alone
Since the web and everything on it is so complicated, never expect one tool to give you all the answers. Chances are, you will have to use and implement a number of web analytics tools to get to the bottom of why your users are behaving in a particular way. Do you remember the five ‘Whs’ of web analytics? Getting answers to all five questions means using multiple tools that target different aspects of web analytics.
Allotting very few resources
If no measurable and tangible results are seen from analytic work on a business’s website, most owners tend to cut down the budget allocated for web analytics. This is a serious mistake because analytics shows results over the long run and allotting few resources to take corrective action limits the possibility of getting results.
Spamming the website with content and keywords
Yes, you have to pay attention to keywords and phrases, but spamming your website with these is not a smart move. In the end, what really matters is the quality of web content instead of one that is only rich with keywords.
Pitfalls to avoid
Exit pages are always problem areas
The fact that people are leaving your website is definitely a warning sign. However, taking exit pages to be the glitch is wrong. What if visitors find what they are looking for on one particular page and then exit your website? To take this into account, the reasons for why people are leaving should be considered problem areas and hollow spots.
Analytics should dictate search terms
Even though web assessments give valuable knowledge regarding the terms people are using the most, if a business restricts itself to these terms only, it is setting up a serious hurdle for success and growth.
Flashy imagery is everything
For many, a web analytic report filled with colourful images and graphs is the best way to get answers about the performance of the website. It should be understood that while imagery is great for decision making, if it is not followed closely with highly comprehensive data, all the graphs and pies charts are pretty much useless.
Conversion funnel is a quick fix
Even though the conversion funnel is an important and useful measure, limiting your analysis to this approach can be misleading. Not all visitors who do not complete the conversion funnel are exiting a website. They may go back mid-way to check the prices of the products, read the vendor policy or perhaps, add more products to the cart!
Numbers are everything
No, numbers are not everything. In fact, many numbers are nothing at all! For the longest time, the marketing industry made a big deal of the hits advertising campaigns success. However, soon they realized that these hits were merely a small part of the larger picture and they were not enough to report the success of the campaign. Hence, numbers are important, but not every number will be worth basing strategic decisions upon it.
For instance, if a site referrer brings you 20,000 visits on a daily basis, you may have a reason to be happy. However, before you do, it is essential to check into details the length of the stay and depth of visit of each of these visitors.
Therefore, when you begin to look at web analytics as medicine for your sick online business, make sure you do not trust just about anyone who starts giving advice. Sure, it will be tempting to take shortcuts and follow the top 10 metrics or see the top 5 averages, although there is no saying whether these top contenders are actually relevant to your website or not.
Hence, explore, observe and learn. Also, keep in mind that falling into one of the pits highlighted above is not as uncommon as you may think.
The best recommendation is to be aware of all the potential problems you might encounter along the way, as this will help you be prepared for different situations that impose challenges in your online work.