When you first start out building a business, everything is so overwhelming that the last thing you want to think about is data, metrics and numbers. In fact it probably scares you to even consider that type of work needing to be done so you can have a successful business. But, in reality, analyzing what is working and what's not working helps you move forward – faster. These common mistakes can be avoided so that you don’t waste any more time than you have to.
1. Not Knowing What Data to Track – Before you even get started looking at the data, you need to know what you want to track. Remember that just because there is data doesn’t mean you need to track it. Some of the data that Google Analytics collects just isn’t going to help you. You have to figure out what will help you and what won't. Focus only on the data that will help you improve. Does your business need to know how many people came to a certain page? Or what your average sale is? Do you want to know what sites are referring people to you? Knowing your questions helps you find the right data to give you the answer.
2. Not Knowing When to Track Data – When you look at the data is very important, because you have to look at it at the right time in order to know what the data affects. For example, if you have a big seasonal launch on the 1st of July, you probably want to look at some data you’ve identified before the launch and then after the launch. Looking at things like how much traffic came to your pre-launch page from different sources (like social media) and how your email marketing is working (yes, you can track it) helps you know which sources to give more attention to because they are producing results.
3. Not Understanding Your Objectives and Goals – It’s very important to know how to turn all your business objectives into workable goals. Remember a goal needs to be SMART. That means: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. If you want to drive 3000 people to a page through social media, you can work backwards from that goal based on how much time you have to complete your goal. If you want 3000 people over 30 days, you need to send about 100 people a day – which means you need to post to social channels enough that you will get that kind of traffic. And you need to encourage shares so that you benefit more than once from the posting that you do.
4. Not Realizing What Problems You Want to Solve – Tracking data should be for a reason, such as fixing a problem. For example, let’s say you have a sales page that is getting a lot of traffic but there are no or low conversions. Do you know what data to look at so that you can fix the problem? This goes back to knowing what questions you are trying to answer.
5. Not Understanding the Business You’re Analyzing – If you are looking at data for a business you’re unfamiliar with, you can run into problems. You will need to do some research to understand industry averages so that you know where the business you’re looking at stands. If you can join a facebook group or find forums where people in that industry hang out, you can ask about benchmarks. Sometimes industry groups track that information and by being a member you can get a good idea what you should aim for. Find the industry group for your area and start researching.
6. Not Testing Different Methods – Whenever you are checking data up against the industry standards, it’s important that you test different methods to find out what works best. For example, you might test two or three different sales pages for one product or service at the same time. This is easy to do with google analytics – and you only need to make a slight change to the document like a different headline or a different picture. You want to try to see if you can improve your results, and the only way you can is by testing.
7. Not Setting Up Analytics Correctly – If you’ve never set up Google Analytics, it would be a good idea to get some help with that from an expert. Once it’s set up it’s going to be a lot easier to track your work, because it’s set up right. It’s a waste of time to do it wrong. If you don't set it up at all, it's hard to make important decisions about what's working and what's not working because you don't know for sure. Analytics dashboards are easy to read and give you only the data you need to make a decision. You can also get them emailed to you automatically every week or every day. Data at your fingertips.
8. Not Choosing the Right Software and Tools – There is a lot of software out there that isn’t worth anything, but that people try to use. Remember that sometimes free is good, and sometimes free is not so good. If you hire an expert, they’ll help you ensure that you start out right. You can add to your information without going overboard and make better decisions and improve your bottom line with analytics.
Don’t let analytics scare you away from doing business. As they say, nothing is done until the paperwork is done, and that includes online business or in your brick and mortar store. You need these numbers to make good choices about what to do next in your business. Knowing the numbers will help you avoid other types of mistakes that can be very costly. Analytics provides a resource that is free to you and can show you where you need to improve and where you are doing things right.
Mathea Ford is an online e-commerce expert and understands both websites and local business. She helps business owners get the most out of their time and for their money to improve their results. Contact her at her website – www.matheaford.com for more information.