The Importance of Analyzing Data: Knowing Where You're Coming From Helps Determine Where To Go Next

August 21st, 2014

We all know that college comes after high school and that learning the alphabet is necessary in order to read. As marketers, we understand that a site must be mapped and designed before it can be built and that content must be generated before it can be optimized. But what happens once the site launches? You might think the answer is obvious, but don’t be fooled -- the road to effective data tracking can often contain a few hairpin turns along the way. 
Since starting at Coalmarch as a Marketing Coordinator just a few months ago, I’ve picked up a few tips that can really help track marketing efforts. Rather than guessing, take the time to monitor on-site behavior so you can direct strategy toward the greatest possible return on investment. 

Take Advantage of Analytics

Google has so graciously provided us with a free tool to see how we can… well, perform better for Google.  But think about what we are tracking here: trends in user experience. Number of page views, time on site, bounce rate, conversion – these all show one thing: how well our site is meeting the needs of our clients’ potential customers. To get a more in-depth view of where you are gaining traction or losing interest, I would recommend: 

  1. Setting up funnels with specific regular expression destination goals that match the intended flow of the website. You’ll want to set these up as soon as possible, as this information is not retroactive.
  2. Tagging all of your future campaigns with custom URLs. This painless initiative will really help you see just how well that email campaign is doing.
  3. Paying attention to the number of page views and average time on page. If a page was created with the customer in mind but is showing very few views or many views with a high bounce rate, it is probably time to adjust your content strategy.

Finding The Common Thread

Once the data has been organized, it’s time to start analyzing that data. Funnel visualization (under the “Goals” tab in Analytics) will show you how well your site structure is performing, as well as areas that could use some help. Pretend you set up an e-commerce site that sells sporting goods. You intended for the user to land on the homepage, proceed to the women’s footwear section, select the “running” tab, and make a purchase after comparing a few options. But what happens if she selects the “walking” option instead? She might grow frustrated and exit the site altogether, or take a roundabout route to the same purchase. Detailed funnels help show these visitor paths so you can see exactly what’s happening during the steps in between click and conversion.
The same concept is true for campaign tagging and landing pages; if you find out which blogs, emails, or general pages are succeeding, and which are struggling, you’ve won half of the battle.

Moving Forward, Still Looking Back

Now that you know what the information actually means, do something about it! If you know that, to the majority of your users, “walking” and “running” are interchangeable terms for a specific type of shoe, edit your site accordingly. If you note that your blog about barefoot running was successful, think about ways to integrate that knowledge with your other campaigns to boost sales of gear intended for barefoot runners. If the opposite is true, and your blog wasn’t successful, tap into community blogs or research query trends to find out what people are truly interested in. Use the information to build content that is relevant to your target market and worth the time invested.
Last but not least, keep measuring so you can continue improving! More often than not, one discovery leads to several more. Keeping in mind your successes and failures, along with what’s going on in the industry environment is difficult in itself. By establishing these shortcuts to retrieving valuable data, you will the save time and energy for implementing real changes.
I hope this article was useful to many of you. Is there a specific formula or tool you use when tagging a campaign? Let us know; we would love to hear about it!

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