November 1, 2019
You can use the snazziest, feature-rich web analytics tool on the planet, but if the data behind the scenes isn’t accurate, your reporting results won’t be beneficial to the business. To ensure your data delivers the ultimate business value, revisit three basic principles essential to the strength of your web analytics framework: planning, partnership, and persistence.
No. 1: Planning
The most important step in any web analytics implementation is the planning that’s done before the implementation. Although many aspects of web analytics apply to all businesses, the key to getting the most out of your implementation is to design a solution based on your specific business landscape and goals.
Consider the following:
These answers will help you design a solution that provides the most value.
In addition to considering the data you want to capture, think about how you want to view and analyze reports. For example, if you have multiple websites, should the data be siloed into different report suites (Adobe Analytics) or properties (Google Analytics)?
Sometimes it’s necessary to keep data separated. However, it’s more likely you’ll want to understand visitor activity across properties. You get more comprehensive and advanced reporting and analysis by sending data into one repository and using virtual report suites (Adobe Analytics) or views (Google Analytics) to parse out data for reporting if needed. One other tip: Don’t forget to configure a variable you can use to easily parse out the data.
Even if you’ve already implemented your web analytics solution, don’t ignore this pillar because you’re not off the hook after implementation is complete. As your company or website changes, so should your web analytics implementation. Although we analyze activity from the past, brands should also think about the future and how the implementation needs to evolve.
In addition, be sure to document your brilliance. An amazing implementation plan only retains its value if others understand it and can maintain it as you move on to conquer other things.
No. 2: Partnership
We understand the appeal of a tag management solution: You don’t have to rely on technical support to administer the tags. In reality, your web analytics implementation will be significantly better if you partner with your web development team.
Robust data layer, unique div IDs, consistent link labels — still not convinced? Think about that time when you suddenly stopped collecting data because that beautiful website update dropped your necessary tag trigger elements.
Forge a partnership with your web dev team and help them understand why the elements necessary for tagging are important to them as well. After all, without the data, you can’t report to senior leadership about how the latest site updates have improved conversions and increased revenue for the company.
No. 3: Persistence
Over time, your business and website will change. You need to monitor and maintain your analytics and insights so they remain relevant. While you create stunning and insightful data visualizations, make sure you have confidence in the data.
Put some checks in place so you can be confident your recommendations are based on accurate data:
Quality control (QC) dashboards
In addition to your presentation dashboards, set up a few QC dashboards to identify possible anomalies in the data. Then configure some email alerts. However, don’t rely solely on those alerts. You will want to regularly check the QC dashboards yourself too.
Back end data reconciliation
Although web analytics data helps optimize digital media and website engagement, it’s likely not going to be the source-of-truth data for your business.
If your web analytics key performance indicators (KPIs) don’t align with your company’s source-of-truth data, how do you know you are helping propel the business forward? Even if you are, will anyone believe you?
Spend the time to ensure your web analytics data is in line with your source of truth. It will never match exactly (unless you are a true wizard), but make sure it’s close (as in low single-digit percentages) and the trends align.
The above checks should help you spot potential issues in your data, but it never hurts to add a regular tagging audit to your list. These audits can catch issues, such as duplicate tags firing or tags that load slowly, which could be impacting your numbers without being apparent in your QC dashboard.
Although you can use various tools to assist, include some manual monitoring so that you can actually see the tag fires compared to the actions you’ve performed on the site.
It’s essential to put a solid foundation and maintenance plan in place regardless of your web analytics solution. The right web analytics framework minimizes false data, leading to better business decisions and, ultimately, results.
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