Analytics – Know where you are heading.
Have you ever sat next to a highway, by the foot of a hill, and listen to the cars come past. If you listen closely enough, you can hear the engines “pull harder” as they start climbing the hill. Trucks labours more and the sound changes more than with cars, that comes with a weight advantage.
Why am I telling you about car engine noise? In the past 4 parts of this series we look at:
- Proposition Strategy –The strategy behind a car with a story
- Acquisition Strategy –How to make it possible for people to find you
- Conversion Strategy – Converting visitors to customers
- Retention Strategy – How do you make them come back?
Think of the combination of all these parts above, as parts of an engine. The highway hill we sitting next to will be the content we publish.
Analytics and Management Strategy
Analytics can be done in many ways and a plethora applications are available for free or to buy. I want to show you the different, and most likely the first ways to get analytics at no cost. No Cost as usual does not mean without work.
Why do you need analytics?
When we go back to our analogy above, you can see analytics strategy as the gauges in your car – Speedo, fuel level, temperature and more. Each of these gauges, in this car tells the driver very specific information. This info is vital to driving your car, and without it your chances of having a fatal accident grows.
You may not be aware of analytics, in your everyday life, but it’s everywhere – I find the cricket ones really interesting. My first taste of real performance analysis, apart from college came with one of my first jobs, in a highly production driven industrial environment. In some instances we tracked performance on certain pieces of equipment down to 15 minute intervals. These where usually done manually and as problem solving techniques. Many mechanical problems where pointed out by measuring the performance.
That is but one application. I believe the sample above will help you see the importance of analytics. Obviously you use/don’t use that is up to you, but keep in mind not having Key Performance Indicators that comes from analytical data, are very much the same as throwing a rock in the bush and see what jumps out.
Let’s stop driving in the dark. – Without lights.
The very first basic concept dwells around efficiency, or output/input x 100 = efficiency as a most basic example. In the mechanical world friction is one of the big culprits, and to date I do not know of any mechanical device that can give more, than you put in.
What we want to know in a business context, will be the engine noise from above – I will go ahead and show you a couple of ways that we can calculate how hard our engines are working, and point out a few reasons from social media and other platforms that may be the cause of the additional labour in your engine.
The obvious part here, is that the higher the efficiency, the more bang for your buck.
The components of an anlytical and management strategy.
The parts of your business and website, that makes up to be part of your analytics strategy, can reside in online applications and analysis of physical elements, it’s not only a computer thing. I believe that with google Analytics, you can by using custom matrices – even count how many times a day, your house front door opens and closes. You will have to add some Arduno.
The parts that makes up an analytics strategy are:
- Web analytics
- Competitor Benchmarking
- Development of KPIs
Where to start
All of this is a bit like cooking, everyone has their own style. The methods explained next are not a set of rules, but more the result I ended up using most often because it suits my needs. You on the other hand will be able to grab enough from this article to enable you to apply these methods for your own purposes.
The examples to follow applies to web applications. I use real world analytics extensively in my hospitality point of sale software – Quickfood Here the results are often very clearly visible, because it points out causes of losses in efficiency, which most of the time result in theft and dismissal. With the first implementation of this, I both solved a problem and created a new one at the same time.
The employees honest enough to realize what is happening are the ones that made the most and worked the longest. On the contrary, those clever ones that still tried all the tricks, quickly started complaining about shortages and most often left before completing training. In fact, the training was a double-up to improve retention.
This just worked fine, the trainees that are looking for a job, because they know how to steal in that particular job, hardly ever made it to-day 2 of the training. On the flip-side, my turnovers increase to record heights and at the same time shortages literally vanished – I automatically offset a big chunk of the gains towards the employees.
So, yes analytics can be used to qualify things – mathematically.
The more the better, start by grabbing everything everywhere, here’s some of the places you can find data:
- Webmaster Tools
- Google Analytics
- Your hosting package
- Facebook Insights
- Google Adwords
- Other physical inputs
Google started with this first, with Microsoft following closely – some years ago. Unfortunately, if you did not build and maintain your website – you will not be able to make use of most of these services. The webmaster tools by google were implemented as a way to submit your website to the Google Index, and it was a great improvement to the methods of others search engines.
One of the reasons I enjoy Google products so much is they start solid and only add truly useful features – Google webmaster tools evolved into a powerful tool. Not only telling you if your pages are indexed or not but at the same time supply exportable data with regards to problems, improvement suggestions and SERP (Search Engine Result Page) configuration, mobile compatibility and page speed. These are all very important, for the simple fact that your opposition also uses these tools to find problems and improve.
With many of Google product, you can easily integrate webmaster tools into Analytics, or Adsence. You do have the ability to combine many of the Google products as it suits your requirements.
When looking a posts performing really good, you will often find that it took some time before the article started going well. This is most often because of optimization of the post, and you need analytics to find the problem.
The philosophy behind the thing is that you make up content – then put it public and measure the results. These results point out good and bad performers of all sorts of things. Then use this data to identify the problems, improve and repeat.
If you keep on doing this for long enough, you going to pick up on trends. You can then go further and automate reporting and actively track your performance indicators.
Getting it to work
You can very easily add a plug-in and link your site with an Analytics property. During the Analytics Set-up you will receive help and different methods to connect your site. The default set-up will give you lots of data to work with but the true value comes out when you start using custom inputs and configuring conversion tracking.
To explain how to use Analytics, is way to much to explain here, I will strongly advice buying a book or signing up or a Google course online.
Knowing what all the hosts world-wide offer is impossible, but all the companies I used since the start always provides analytical apps. A popular one is AWStats. These are quite nice to use for information about your hosting server and your site traffic.
Facebook pages gives you Insights, these are various chars with regards to your social efforts, bets part is that is clear enough to be used to get an overview of what’s going on now. To really work with the data, as in the others above – exporting the data and putting it in a spreadsheet makes life a bit easier. Or if you want to spend money, you can by software that does the calculations for you.
Key parts of Insights, that tells you more about your audience looks like this:
With Facebook page insights you can easily set-up Watch Pages as part of your Competitor Benchmarking.
Google Adwords, is a powerful tool, especially when it comes to learning more about your keywords. But once again the true power starts to come to play when you integrate your Analytics Properties and start applying re-marketing.
Other physical inputs
There are many ways to implement data capturing in your business, it all depends what you want to get, the questions you plan on asking. A widely used method is Client loyalty points, here’s a sample of a simple card that works with your bar-code scanner.
The first level data you collect are with registration, you instantly build a database to use for customer relationships management. Birth days, addresses, email and all of those.
The second data level in this application gives you the ability to fairly accurately track activity in your shop in real-time. Nice you can remotely see whose their busy buying what.
The third level of data is once again analytical. By looking at sales data and identifying trends, you can better target specials, optimize operating hours ;and all sorts of exciting stuff.
By now you are wondering: how do you actually do the analysing part?
I’m not elaborating on this part too much, the purpose of this article is to show you the possibilities and options you have. Secondly I hope that by now it’s clear that analytics does not apply only to certain niches, and not to others – like business, or non–profit, but instead analytics is the marriage between anything quantifiable with some basic maths. You can apply this from growing flowers to measuring the time people take to read your post.
Quantify and collect data, then put it together in a place where you can easily shuffle and sort. Once there you start asking questions, and the data should tell you all the answers:
- Which posts get the most hits
- Which posts gets the least hits
- Why are no one going to page two
- Which products are most popular
and so on – ask as many questions you can possibly come up with and single out the results and find trends and patterns.
Once you got all those questions answered you at least have an idea where to start fixing.
One last example: While looking at your posts, you spot the worst performing post, okay, so now you know this post is making your engine work hard, but can go better – Where do you start to fix the problem?
The first thing to do is look at how long the people are staying on the page, you can work it out like this: If your post is +- 1300 words, should on average take +- 10 minutes to read at 130 word per minute.
Here’s a tool: http://www.speechinminutes.com/
Now you can easily identify a problem on a page in an area, simply by taking the average time your visitors are reading the post for. So the answer is 4min30sec great, so starting from the top 530 words later: THAT’S YOUR PROBLEM!
Enough, in conclusion.
Getting this to work will take some practise and lot’s of testing and grinding, but it’s worth it.