Gold in the Data: 5 Ways to Find Yours

what do your analytics reports actually mean?

Data is great, but look for the story hidden within it.

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As a Business Owner, Marketing Director or Product Manager, you already know that having good data is key to your success – even if you’re new to the world of digital marketing. Knowing where to start, however, isn’t as easy. Today we’re unpacking five ways to discover the hidden treasure in your digital data.

First Things First: Gather
Website analytics are easy to come by these days. In fact, you may have something in place collecting data on your website right now. This is the most important place to start your journey.

Action Item for This Week: Assess your current analytics situation. Is a tool capturing your data already? Can you access that data? If necessary, have new tracking code installed, and assign someone to monitor your analytics regularly. If you’re unsure which tool to begin with, we suggest Google Analytics. Setting up an account—and just about everything else you’ll do with it—is free.

Data is Data, Right?
Google Analytics is, for most brands, the best way to start collecting data; it offers a user-friendly mixture of power and simplicity. But it’s not the only game in town. There are hundreds of other analytics tools designed to measure visitor behavior, social media activity, email engagement, app usage, and everything else digital. If you’ve built, published, shared, or talked about something online, there’s a software to measure it.

Now might be a good time to experiment with some entry-level resources like Hotjar and Twitter Analytics. The former is a heatmapping tool that visually demonstrates how visitors engage your website via clicks, scrolls, mouse movements, and more (image below). Twitter Analytics, on the other hand, tells you how users have interacted with your tweets, including stats like impressions, profile visits, and mentions. Hotjar requires the installation of some basic code on your website, whereas Twitter’s analytics are available by default to any user with an account—no installation required.

Hotjar screenshot

Action Item for This Week: Make a list of your current digital marketing efforts and, next to each one, list an appropriate tool for measuring those tactics. Consider the options each tool offers for reporting and saving your data. Exporting to a spreadsheet, remember, is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Uncover the Story
Not all marketing wisdom is self-evident. Many of this industry’s great discoveries were made when someone hunted for a cause-and-effect camouflaged among clicks and bounce rates and email opens.

By now you probably have pages and pages of data awaiting your digestion. If so, it might be time to think about recruiting the help of someone who does this for a living, someone who can cut through the vast facts and figures and illuminate what really matters to your business.

For example, some metrics like sessions and users are self-explanatory, whereas others aren’t (e.g. treemaps vs. a users flow report). A good digital partner can make sense of the data points that are less intuitive, translate them for meaning, and ultimately reveal the gold in your data.

Action Item: Dive into some of the data you already have, but don’t lose hope when it gets overwhelming. Consult someone in the digital marketing field you trust, and ask for help. All the greats do.

Don’t Put Away That Report Just Yet
Statistics, by themselves, won’t make you money. Where this all comes together and can bring positive change to your brand is in the application of your newfound insights.

You’ve gathered your website data, you’ve cast a net wide enough to capture offsite activity, and you’ve partnered with someone who can help connect the dots, but this step may be the most important: applying that knowledge to practical activity.

If heatmaps revealed a clear user preference for orange buttons on your website, maybe it’s time to change up the design on a few of your recent landing pages (and keep an eye on those conversion rates). If your best source of email sign-ups comes from users who found you on LinkedIn, ask yourself what you can do on that channel to make registering even easier, and what kind of email content could be tailored to that specific audience.

Bottom line: don’t file away that analytics report without setting next steps.

Action Item: Create a simple spreadsheet for tracking the new digital marketing work to be done. Be sure to record descriptions of the changes, who’s responsible, when changes were made, and follow-up dates to review the results. If you have an ongoing digital marketing partnership in place, this will already be tracked and measured for you.

Go For the Extra Point
Once these are in place, you might be tempted to call it a day. However, the mark of a true analytics ninja is in the follow-up. Now is the time to scrutinize the history of your tracked changes, and where applicable, color that information with more advanced data like A/B testing and user feedback.

This isn’t just the extra point; this is what brings you full circle back to the beginning. This is where you start collecting and interpreting new data, which should result in new insights and new changes. This is the circle of data, and it can yield business-changing results if you let it.

Action Item: Schedule a recurring appointment to review your digital marketing efforts. Invite key stakeholders as needed, and get input from others between meetings. Celebrate your wins, and learn from your missteps.

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