Website Analytics: Data 2.0

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...

Nathan Yates

Forward View Consulting, 288 Crack Rock Road, Clintwood, VA 24228, USA

Nathan Yates has been fascinated by technology and finance since he was young. He was the kid devouring the business section of the newspaper (remember those?) while others read everything else. Nathan believes that the American economy is built from the bottom-up, meaning that small businesses and local nonprofits are the foundation of our nation's success. These organizations are the lifeblood of towns and cities across the U.S. Unfortunately, most consulting firms overlook companies or organizations that don't have eight-figure budgets. Nathan thought Forward View Consulting should be different. And we are. As Lead Consultant, Nathan works with each client to deliver only the best financial and/or website development services. Nathan's years of web design experience and his business degrees ensure that professional expertise is brought to each project. Our network of contacts can offer additional specialized guidance if needed. Before creating Forward View Consulting, Nathan worked for an independent equity research firm as a Research Associate covering the industrial and energy sectors. This work involved preparing quarterly 15-40 page reports on multi-billion dollar corporations along with timely analysis of M&A activity and industry-wide news. He also managed research distribution and the company's online presence. Nathan also spent a summer serving as a local financial adviser's Research Intern. Nathan earned a Bachelor's degree in Economics and Finance from Southern New Hampshire University, graduating summa cum laude. He then earned a Master's degree in Finance from Southern New Hampshire University, where he was named the Outstanding Student in his particular concentration. Now, Nathan is an adjunct professor teaching economics and finance for his alma mater. In his spare time, Nathan enjoys fishing, reading, time with family and serving as a volunteer webmaster for the Clintwood United Methodist Church.