One of the problems with having so much data at our finger tips is that we don’t always know what we are looking at. This is oftentimes the case when a marketer, executive, or business owner takes a look at their websites analytics. While many of the basic elements of analytics are easy to grasp, such as bounce rate and conversions, if you don’t have an understanding how these metrics relate to each other it can be easy to misinterpret them and think that you are fine in areas you are actually struggling in (or vice versa). There are a number of common pitfalls that you face when reviewing analytics, but here are a few of the biggest ones.
The Most Common Analytics Pitfalls
Having No Context
One of the most important but easily misleading metrics is bounce rate, which measures the percentage of visitors who exit your site immediately after visiting one of its landing pages. What is considered a “good” or “bad” bounce rate it purely contextual and depends heavily on factors such as what industry you are in, the nature of your site, and what your goal for the site. For example, if the goal of a landing page is to act as a FAQs page or Troubleshooting Guide, then a higher bounce rate is actually a good thing, since it means that you addressed whatever issue the visitor had. For the homepage of an ecommerce site, however, the lower the bounce rate the better.
Not Comparing Metrics with Each Other to Get the Whole Picture
The best way to review analytics is to not to look at numbers for numbers sake, but instead use those numbers to determine actual user behavior. To do this, you have to compare numbers to each other instead of looking at them individually. On their own, most metrics don’t really tell you much; it’s only when comparing different metrics together that you are able to identify patterns.
A good example of this is with the Average Time on Page metric. Alone, this number tells you the average amount of time users spent on a page. However, since the data for this metric is dependent on visitors clicking to additional pages on your site, it cannot account for those who bounce off of it. This means that if you have a high bounce rate, your high Average Time on Page isn’t really as high as you think it is.
Not Having a Strategy in Place
The single biggest mistake that individuals and businesses make is to not make develop a strategy from which to base your analytics. If you do not have an overall goal for your website, like brand awareness for example, then you will find that you will have no frame of reference for the analytics. Depending on your goal, certain metrics will become incredibly important while others won’t be (including some “important” metrics such as Avg. Page Views).
To create a strategy, you need to identify your key performance indicators (KPIs). Once you have done this you can plan out how you intend to reach these KPIs and develop an overall strategy for your site. Having achieved all of this, you can scale your analytics reporting down to a few key metrics and set it up so that you receive these reports at set intervals. This frees up your time while ensuring that you are focusing on the metrics that matter the most.
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