We’re a big fan of website analytics at Content Equals Money. We keep a careful eye on our website performance, and our analytics data helps us dig up specific details that we need to make profitable decisions. We know just how important it is to keep good data that provides actionable insights into how customers interact with our website. Our successes in the past and the decisions we make for our future depend heavily on our website analytics; and as our company grows more robust, so will our data.
Today, we’d like to share with you one of the most valuable and most difficult lessons we’ve learned about website analytics. This elusive secret to success when it comes to website analytics sounds simple, but it is immensely powerful. Are you ready? Drumroll please…
Don’t take your analytics too seriously.
Analytics Don’t Decide Conversion Tactics, They Assist Them
Okay, that may be a little misleading. By all means, you should take your analytics seriously. The data your website produces is immensely valuable in helping you make decisions for your business. That’s all they should be used for, though: helping you make decisions.
You might be surprised by how many businesses get so tied up in their analytics. It’s too easy for your data to take over the decision process, instead of intelligent conclusions made by experienced businesspeople. Businesses that let analytics data take control of their company’s direction end up serving only their immediate online needs, and not their whole business.
If you pay too much attention to analytics from your website or business blog, you may lose sight of your ultimate goals and aspirations. Opportunities for growth and new, radical ideas are also harder to see and act on when you have your nose buried in site data.
Your Analytics Have “Blind Spots” That Can’t Be Fixed
Offline conversions are often the victim of analytics blind spots. Here’s a perfect example illustrating just how it happens.
Let’s say that your art supply company has a PPC ad campaign for the keyword “art supplies” and “acrylic paint.” Your “acrylic paint” keyword has fewer clicks, but ultimately leads to higher conversions. Your “art supplies” ad has far more clicks than “acrylic paint,” but doesn’t produce nearly as many conversions. Your data is telling you to eliminate “art supplies” if you have to choose only one PPC ad to continue running.
But what happens if you remove the “art supplies” PPC ad? Your website will lose the source of more numerous clicks and visits, and your competitors will more than likely move into that online ad space when you exit, meaning you’re essentially handing over more exposure to your competitors. Furthermore, have you looked at your call-in and in-store sales? An increase in offline sales and conversions could be the result of your online efforts—“art supplies” is a major keyword that people often use to find more information about a store; like its hours, its product line, and its location. Those offline conversions are obviously not going to be tracked in your analytics.
If I were in this situation, keeping both up is optimal. I may not realize that a broad keyword that underperforms online may be driving sales through my front door. With some creative customer research, I could probably measure offline sales as a function of online marketing. Understanding the results that aren’t tracked by your website analytics will protect you from making any decisions that accidentally do more harm than good to your business.
Real-World Example: Here Lies BlackBerry, Done In By Their Own Data
If I had to pick an example of any company that paid too much attention to data and too little attention to the real world, my first choice would have to be Research In Motion. RIM produces the iconic BlackBerry line of smartphones and mobile devices, and if you’ve paid attention to tech news at all over the past six months, you’ve probably heard that they aren’t doing so hot lately.
For almost a decade, RIM did one thing very well: BlackBerry handsets with luxurious, full keyboards and mobile devices that could simply get more done than competing mobile phones. For years, RIM produced some of the most advanced mobile phones on the market. Market dominance made RIM believe that nothing could beat their products…until smartphones came along. The iPhone and Android phones made the BlackBerry look like a cheap toy, and even RIM’s most trusted clients bailed on them for shiny new technology.
RIM is attempting to revitalize their brand with a new operating system, but the entire handset division of their company may be sold off to the highest bidder before that new OS can even come out, and they’re already facing thousands of layoffs and major budget cuts to make ends meet. RIM was so focused on their own data that they weren’t paying enough attention to the rest of the market and their new competition; and now there’s a good chance they may not survive their mistakes.
Don’t Let Your Analytics Distract You
Smart business owners know that even if their entire business is online-only, their analytics aren’t the answer to the decisions they need to make for their company. Analytics don’t magically spell out a path to success for your company. They provide justifiable data that supports larger decisions made on instinct, research, and experience.
We understand this perfectly—even though our business is online-only, we get plenty of calls and emails that aren’t through our “official” conversion paths, and those leads aren’t reflected in our analytics. If you’re looking for the right service that can help you get a grip on your data with content that attracts more customers and drives more conversions, drop us a line!