We are officially in the age of “big data.” There is far more information readily available than any of us can actually consume and process. Now, I’m not suggesting that this is a bad thing; in fact, with the proper filters and processes in place, this information can be quite empowering and lead to improved decision making. But, it can also be intimidating and overwhelming; ultimately, leading to the dreaded “paralysis by analysis.” This is especially true for the small business owner attempting to delve into the world of Web analytics.
Note: I’m assuming that as a small business owner you have a website and have already installed Google Analytics; which is a free Web analytics software package. If this is not the case, print (or save) this article and come back to it once you have done both of those things.
First, we’ll focus solely on those Web analytics that matter… those that will clearly impact your business. Sure, there are a variety of niche data segments and dimensions that can provide rich insights into your business strategy; but in the quest to maximize the return on investment of your time, we’re going to focus on those which will drive the greatest value.
Next, what is your business trying to accomplish by being on the Web? What are the most important priorities of the site? Is it to drive more sales revenue? Improve customer retention? Whatever the answer, develop a few desired business outcomes. Next, develop goals with metrics that will lead to the achievement of these business objectives. For example, if your objective is to drive more sales revenue, a goal could be to increase the amount of money a visitor to your website spends while shopping. In this case, “average order value” is a great metric.
This thought process works for any type of website. If your desired objective is to share your obsession with the TV show Family Guy, then an applicable goal could be to persuade site visitors to watch videos of your favorite episodes. A metric for this could be “# of videos played” and also “average length of time videos were played for.”
Once you have a business objective and goal with metrics determined, it’s time to look at your conversion rate. What percentage of your site traffic is completing the desired goal? How can you modify the site to improve it? Next, where are the visitors that complete a desired goal coming from? A search engine, another website, email newsletter? Focus your marketing appropriately.
Pretty simple right? Once you have the right objectives and goal with metrics in place, this simple analysis can help you grow your business.
This article first appeared on the Nevada Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NCET) blog. Chad Hallert serves as the Vice President of eCommerce for the NCET.