How to start with web analytics: creating a measurement plan

Can you please raise your hand if your company is doing web analytics? Now keep your hand up if you went through the process of creating a measurement plan when you decided to start tracking visitors on your website.

Many hands usually go up after the first question and massively fall down after the second one. Amazingly enough many companies rely on a single person, which is usually overwhelmed by other tasks, to check the amount of visitors, pageviews and bounce rate and to provide monthly reports showing a lot of graphs that don’t tell anything about how well (or bad) your business is actually doing.

Can you really tell if you have a positive ROI by checking out the amount of pageviews? Do you know if the money you invested on a social media campaign actually brought you new candidates if I tell you that there were 1000 visitors this month? Of course, answer is “No”.

In this post I will try to guide you through the essential steps that your company should undergo to implement an analytics plan and be able to quantify the success of your marketing campaigns.

Collect Requirements

Start by identifying the key stakeholders (Sr. Executives) having interests around the website.

Try to understand from each of them what kind of visitors they are targeting and what they wish them to do on the website. This will tell you where the focus should be put when deciding what to track with web analytics. A set of questions can easily elicitate the right answer

  • What would you consider to be a successful user session?
  • What would you like a visitor to do once he lands on your website?
  • What kind of users are you targeting?
measurement plan
Stakeholders

This initial activity will allow you to gather business objectives, which you will use as a base to produce a measurement plan.

Creating the Measurement Plan

A measurement plan is a framework that allows you to define what your objectives are, how you are going to measure them and to set your targets to quantify your website success (or failure).

The following items need to be defined in order to draw the full picture.

Goals

Goals should tell you how you will accomplish your business objectives.

If your business objective is to generate leads, a corresponding goal could be to get people subscribe to your newsletter, or to get them to register to your events, etc.

KPIs

Once your goals are defined, it’s up to the analyst (which holds the “Analytics Knowledge”) to come up with meaningful metrics that would allow you to put numbers to your objectives. These metrics will become your KPIs and will literally allow you to measure your website success.

A very simple example related to the previously mentioned objective “Leads Generation” would be to measure the amount of user that subscribed to your newsletter.

Targets

If you have defined your KPIs it’s already a great step, but it’s not sufficient. How will you to determine if you failed or succeeded if you have not defined a target to these KPIs?

Setting targets is definitely not a trivial activity, especially when you have to deal with metrics that you might not even have heard about like recency or loyality. But you have to keep in mind that the process is iterative and is based on experience from historical data and a bit of gut feeling.

After mentioning recency and loyality I suppose I have to make an example. In this case we would shift to an objective like “Driving Awareness”, for instance by doing some content marketing with a Blog.

  • Recency is the time that passed in between two sessions of the same user (how much time did Mr. Brown wait before coming back to my website?)
  • Loyality is how often users visit your website (how many times did Mr. Brown come to read my blog this month?)

A target to these 2 metrics is not so difficult to set, as it depends on how often you update your content. So, if you post on your blog every week, you would expect the user recency to be around 7 days and the loyality to be as high as you posts, meaning a monthly increase by 4 pages per user.

Segments

Analytics data is by default aggregated. If you know that 1000 users subscribed to your newsletter you still have no idea from which traffic source they came (email, social, referral, direct) or from which campaign. You don’t know if they were using a mobile device, a tablet or a desktop or if they browsed your site from Switzerland or from the US.

Reason for which, you need to analyze your data in segments to be able to spot potential optimization and ask yourself questions.

Let’s imagine that 98% of your subscriptions happened via desktop, even if your website has on average 35% of mobile traffic. Why do mobile users have such a low conversion rate? Only after asking yourself this question you might find out that the mobile view of your form is so buggy that most of your visitors give up on that page.

To summarize, here is an example.

measurement plan
measurement-plan-with-lineheaders

Create an Implementation Plan

Once you got the measurement plan right, you are more than half way through it. Not that the implementation is a piece of cake, especially if we think about e-commerce shops (that can be a real hassle), but let’s say you have put a very solid base to your building.
This part does not have to be underestimated and it often requires a tight work between the analyst and the website development team, which might have to make some code adjustments in order to be able to track all required metrics.

Working with tools like Google Tag Manager definitely helps to decouple website development from the writing small javascript snippet or configuring tags allowing to track forms, call to actions, etc. To get started with it I would recommend Simo Ahava’s Blog, quite a guru in that area.

Anyway, the implementation plan is strongly dependent on the chosen solution as there are quite some around: from Google Analytics, Sitecore DMS, Adobe Analytics, Webtrends, etc.

On a highlevel you need to make sure you know how you will track all required KPIs that were identified and that any changes in your CMS, website, intranet site can be carried over.

A good implementation guide for Google Tag Manager can be found on the Optimize Smart Blog.

Implement

Go ahead and implement!

  • Configure goals and funnels
  • Configure segments to analyze your data
  • Configure dashboards for constant monitoring of your goals
  • Configure reports based on the requirements you gathered from your stakeholders
  • Produce monthly / quarterly reports with different levels of detail.
    Your CMO will certainly not be interested in page speed, but mainly in the campaigns ROI 😉
  • Analyze results, adjust content / design / placements, analyze results, refine, refine, refine!

Bare in mind that Analytics is an iterative process and requires constant monitoring in order to be able to optimize not only content and styling but also marketing efforts like advertising, email campaigns or social media presence.

Hopefully I provided you some helpful insights!

Check out a sample dashboard to measure your Enterprise Blog sucess or the related articles in the sidebar and stay tuned for more analytics stuff to come!

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Andrea Rapanaro

Senior Business Analyst and Manager at Atos Consulting CH
Quick learner, customer focused and pragmatic business analyst specialized in Web Analytics and with strong technical knowledge coming from a developer background.

I have over 8 years of experience in consulting and hands-on experience in Web Analytics, especially with Google Analytics (10+ years), Google Tag Manager (3+ years), Google Data Studio (1+ years) and Microsoft Power BI (2+ years).

I am also a proud dad, a passionate football fan (AC Milan) and I like to spend all my free time writing on my food-blog (www.cucina.li). What can I cook for you? 🙂
Andrea Rapanaro
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How to start with web analytics: creating a measurement plan
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How to start with web analytics: creating a measurement plan
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Let us guide you through the steps that your company should undergo in order to implement web analytics: from measurement plan to implementation.
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Atos Consulting CH
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