Analytics is the catch-all term for empirical information gathered about the performance of websites, social media campaigns and other aspects of online marketing. Undertaking some method of recording and analysing analytics relating to online marketing activities is essential to future success and marketing development, as businesses and individuals need to know what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to promoting themselves online.
The most common form of analytics is that relating to the performance of a website. There are numerous tools that users can employ to undertake such an analysis, but the most commonly used is Google Analytics. Google Analytics is an immensely powerful tool that can provide information of great detail and precision. Because of this, it is probably wise for businesses and individuals to use an informed third party to show them how to set up Google Analytics and for advice as to what they should actually be monitoring in terms of website performance, as misunderstanding the tool and its metrics could lead to inaccurate conclusions about a website’s performance.
Deciding on what information (‘metrics’) a business should be monitoring when it comes to its website’s performance is critical. It is very easy for people to become fixated on a seemingly important metric but not to analyse the critical information underneath it. Superficially, it might be seen as a sign of huge success that a website is getting thousands of visitors per week, but if those visitors are not based in a country which a business sells into or are only staying on the website for a matter of a few seconds, the overall number of visitors is meaningless. In other words, knowing what you should be recording and doing so consistently so as to produce ‘like-for-like’ information is essential if a business is to truly understand how a website is performing.
One of the most important metrics is knowing how people have come to a particular website. Using a tool such as Google Analytics, it is easy to identify if visitors have come to the website via particular means, whether that be a search engine or a link shared on a specific social media network. This information is important as it reflects on other online marketing activities a business may be undertaking to promote its products and services. If a company is spending lots of money on a social media marketing campaign to direct people to a particular website, yet the website’s analytics indicates that not many people are coming to the website via social media, it is clear that something is not working. Of course, analytics can show off the success of any particular online marketing activity as well.
Analytics is not and should not be exclusively focused on the performance of a website. All the major social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, have their own analytics dashboards through which users can monitor the performance and ‘reach’ (i.e. how many people saw any one particular social media post) of their social media activity. In addition, there are numerous third-party social media tools that can provide even more functionality and can also be used to schedule social media posts (Hootsuite is one such tool).
Nick Lewis Communications use Audiense (formerly known as SocialBro) to analyse the performance of their clients’ Twitter feeds, as Audiense can produce detailed demographics about Twitter followers and how they may relate to the interests of any one particular client.
Whether a business or an individual undertakes the measurement and analysis of their online marketing analytics themselves or whether they contract a third party to do so on their behalf, online marketing analytics is a cornerstone of any successful online campaign.