Data analysis is simple. We do most of the over-complicating ourselves. We look at spreadsheets or our Google Analytics accounts and our eyes glaze over quicker than a Krispy Kreme donut. We’re left wandering about the data with enervation and ennui.
Why We Think Data Is Complicated
We think data is complex because we use it wrong. We look to our data to tell us something we didn’t already know. We look to it for enlightenment that, truth be told, was really inside us all along.
Have you ever heard of John Frum and the cargo cults? It was an unusual phenomenon that sprung up during World War II amongst Melanesian Islanders. To quote Wikipedia’s definition, the name derives from the belief that various ritualistic acts will lead to a bestowing of material wealth.
Can you honestly say you’re not using your data in the same manner?
Do you go through the motions of exploring our data hoping, with some magical thinking, that insights will appear. The insights are lost in the noise, the improvements don’t materialize and we’re left imagining that analysis is beyond our reach.
Google Analytics Is Easy When You Do It Correctly
Analysis doesn’t begin with numbers. It begins with a question that leads to an assumption that leads to a test which you measure. Then, and only then, does your data become useful. You data can tell you, by analyzing the results of your test, whether your assumption was correct.
With this process, and Google Analytics’ data, you really can grow your business in a meaningful way. Provided, of course, that your website fulfills a role in your business strategy (otherwise, why do you have one). This process applies to most other non-website analysis too, though.
Which Traffic Channels Are Performing Well?
This is an example question to demonstrate the process, and its one that we can answer with Google Analytics data, quite easily. It’s not only the number of visits though, it’s other engagement metrics that matter. Look at both quantity and quality.
In Google Analytics, go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels. This shows your traffic channels like Direct, Social, Referral, Organic Search etc. Here you’ll see the volume of each channel as well as engagement metrics like bounce rate and conversion rate. Alternately, you can use Teacup’s grading to get a head start on this stuff – it’s already calculated for you and graded against your recent history, overall performance and more.
So, looking at each channel individually, you can see which channels are performing well (relative to your comfort level) and which channels are not. This leads to the logical conclusion:
Some channels are ideal to grow because they have great engagement. Simple, right? Other channels require optimization before growing because the conversion rate is weak. Some channels are too small to warrant worrying about. I like to start with one channel that lies in the middle with mediocre engagement and in the middle of the pack in terms of volume.
What Can You Do To Optimize One Traffic Channel?
This is the assumption stage. The assumption goes like this: I think I can improve my conversion rate by adding a button with a strong call to action to my top landing pages.
If you want to get a bit deeper into your data at this stage, there’s certainly options to segment your traffic and try to optimize for mobile visitors or specific keywords etc. Feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to chat about this more, but for the purposes of brevity, we’ll keep it high-level for now.
Test and Measure Your Assumptions
So, you have your assumption i.e. that you can improve your conversion rate for one specific channel by adding that button. All you need to do is add that button and start monitoring. In Google Analytics, you can simply keep an eye on your conversion rate for that channel – you could create a custom Google Analytics report, use a 3rd party tool or keep going back each week to the same place I mentioned above to just note the improvement.
Give it time, though. Be patient and let it ride for a month or two at least. That way you’ll be sure that you made a real difference.
Congratulations, You’ve Got A New Opportunity
If it worked, congratulations. Time to take the next step and grow that channel. By starting with improving the channel before growing it, you’re effectively plugging the leaks before pouring water into the bucket.
Start with a new assumption – one that deals with how you’re going to grow that channel. Take the action, and measure the results.
Optimize, then grow, and repeat.
And it all began with Google Analytics.