Google Analytics in Plain English
Your website needs analytics. Every website has to have analytics if it is going to be successful. Oh, and if you are going to use them (did I mention you really should?) then wouldn’t it be best if they were analytics in plain English?
OK. That’s pretty blunt. So, would you mind telling me what these analytics things are?
What do we mean by ‘analytics’?
Let’s think about our “bricks and mortar” business, rather than our website for a moment. You have a shop – do you care if people come into it? Well of course you do, it’s not so easy to sell anything in your shop if they don’t come in. But do you care who they are?
I mean, if you had to start categorising the people who come into your shop, how would you do it? By age perhaps? Are the people who come into your shop young or old? By gender? Are they men or women? Maybe we can start to combine categories and say that the people who come into your shop are old women. If we throw in a time element, we might reflect that old women come into our shop until about 3pm but after that it tends to be more children, both boys and girls. Maybe this varies by season, by month, or even whether it is the start or end of the month.
We are slowly being drawn deeper and deeper into the world of analytics, or market segmentation. Fancy words for knowing who your customers are.
Should we care? One of the strengths of small businesses is that often they really know their customers – in a way larger businesses could never hope to. You might not categorise the customer who comes into your shop as an ‘old lady who comes in before 3pm but only on Mondays’ – because you know her as Mrs. Jones; and you know exactly when and why she comes into your shop – because you know her by sight and you take time to chat to her – which is one of the reasons that Mrs. Jones comes into your shop in the first place. It could just be that you can do this for hundreds of customers – you are a veritable mine of information! That information is valuable, because it helps you to give a better service to each customer.
Big business spends hundreds of thousands of pounds on trying to replicate you. They want the same insight into their own customers. This is the reason for loyalty cards and itemised tills – not to mention software and analysts that pour over the data trying to figure out if the best place to display beer is right next to the nappies (an insight that led to a huge increase in beer sales!). It also allows them to send one customer a money off coupon for electronics and another an incentive to buy car insurance.
Who visits your website?
Anyway, let’s come back to you and your small business and your website. Do you care if people visit it? Well of course you do, why invest in building it otherwise? But do you care who visits it?
In your shop environment you can see it’s Mrs. Jones who comes in, and you chat to her whilst she is there. You can’t you do that if she is visiting your website, can you? (Editor’s note – Actually you can! To do that whilst she is actually on your website requires you to be connected to your site at the same time, so it’s not that realistic on an ongoing basis for most small businesses, but it is possible. Contact us if you’d like to know more about this.)
What do visitors look at on your website – and how did they find you?
However, if you can’t be there at the same time as your customers, it would still be useful to know that they popped by, how long they stayed, what they looked at and so on. We could take this a step further and find out how they found out about your website, even which website they were on before immediately before they came to yours. And we can do all of this without taking up any of your customers’ time, because all of this information can be supplied automatically by the likes of Google and other software companies.
Big Brother is watching you. Now you might not like the idea of that, but it is happening anyway, whether you as a small business decide to take advantage of the data collected or not. It’s still being collected – and as an individual choosing to use the internet you have already agreed to your own data being collected anyway.
Two Big Questions
How do I get to see the data about my website?
What should I do about it?
In order to see the data you need some special code added to your website, and then you need a dashboard made available to you.
What should I do about it is a longer term process that has various elements to it. The first is interpreting the data – the thing that big businesses pay business analysts plenty of money for (one of the jobs I used to do before moving into project management).
We offer an ongoing service where we will present conclusions from the data collected. This helps you to complete the next step which is deciding what actions to take based on the information presented to you.
What should you do with this data?
For example you might decide to redesign a page on your website if you find people get part way through a buying process and then don’t complete their purchase.
You might decide to offer a certain subset of customers a particular promotion.
You could focus your advertising spend on platforms or at times that are proving the most effective, and so on.
Throughout all of this we can participate in your decision making process as much or as little as you wish.
Google Analytics in Plain English – The Next Steps
Once you have taken a decision based on the information available, the next step is to monitor the outcome of that decision and to compare it with the situation before the action was taken. As you can see by now, analytics is not the start or end of a linear process but part of a circle of continuous improvement.
If you want to make sales, you need to let people know that you exist and then build relationships with your potential buyers. In order to do that you need to collect high quality targeted data. You then need to use that data in a very informed way.
Your website needs analytics. Every website has to have analytics if it is going to be successful.
The Roman Britons Analytics package takes care of you by installing all the code required, helping you to set measurable goals for your business website and presenting you with clear results in an easy to read weekly or monthly visual guide. An investment in the right analytics can repay itself time and time again by helping you to focus your marketing and sales efforts where they can achieve the greatest return.
Certifed by Google so that we can deliver Google Analytics in Plain English
Although I already know a lot about analytics, first I and then the rest of the team at Roman Britons Websites will be making a personal investment in ensuring that our customers get the best possible service – by studying to obtain certified status directly from Google. We will have to pass a big exam on Google Analytics. Whilst we are at it, we are aiming to become certified in Google AdWords too.
That way, if you decide, after we have given you clear information on your Google Analytics in plain English, that your best course of action would be to try some paid advertising, we’ll be able to give you clear advice on that too!
Keep following the news on this website to see how we get on!