Websites are more than just digital homes for your business or organization. Websites are also valuable sources of data on potential/current customers, interested community members and even the demographics of your area. Before you can utilize this data, though, you must collect and organize it to ensure that it's valuable for decision-making. If your decisions are based on data, aren't you just guessing?
First, you need to gather web data. Happily, you don't need a degree in Quantitative Science to begin capturing more data than 99% of people will ever need. The necessary collection tool is also free: Google Analytics. You'll simply need to register with Google and connect your website to the system. (The actual process of linking your website to Google Analytics varies with the technology you used to develop your site, but it's typically not difficult at all.) Not only does Google Analytics gather data from your website, it organizes it, too. Let's take a look at some data captured through the Forward View website. We want you to see the power of data.As you can see above, Google Analytics tells us how many people visited our website, how many unique viewing sessions they initiated, what percentage bounced off of our site before exploring and how long the typical session lasted.According to the Google Analytics chart above, our social media accounts drive a significant percentage of our website traffic. Other channels are also important.We're going to preach about the importance of mobile-friendly website design until everybody hears us. Our website received over 1/3 of its views through mobile devices. (We add tablets and mobile phones together.)
We've truly just scratched the surface of website analytics in this newsletter. More advanced topics include capturing demographic data, measuring how many people complete certain website goals (such as requesting a newsletter) and even developing a "heat map," which is a visual analysis of what people click on a website. The key is not to become overwhelmed with digital data. Just because you can track a certain statistic doesn't mean that you should! It's best to create a Google Analytics dashboard with 5–10 critical data streams and check everything else only occasionally. Determine which metrics actually impact your digital strategy instead of looking at every possible stat.
Next month, we'll discuss social media analytics! Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts for organizations also generate critical data. Forward View will update you on our experience with a Twitter beta program. Please stay tuned...