Design & Development

Determine Analytics Questions In Advance

Once a web analytics solution is installed, the most common initial use is to validate some past event.  User testing shows that 80 percent of marketers focus on charts that go up and to the right, thus validating the success of the website or an advertising campaign.  I call this “web analytics for entertainment.”  

While this is gratifying and fun to do, it’s not very productive. 
The truth is that good web analysis can give you a competitive advantage across many aspects of your online business, such as search engine optimization, site design, advertising and on-site conversion. But the key is to ask the right questions, in advance, of your web analytics tool and not to let the tool determine what your questions should be.  

Here are the three requirements for forming good questions:

  • The question must be related to your business goals.
  • The question must be answerable by web analytics.
  • The question must have actions related to the possible answers.

Miss any one of these and the magic doesn’t work.  So let’s try one out together:  “Which pay-per-click campaigns shall I cut this week?”

The question is related to a goal of acceptable return on advertising investment, which is clearly a valid business goal, as in A above.  Requirement B is covered, too: A web analytics tool can show the investment return on pay-per-click campaigns. So far, so good.  You can cut or adjust the poorly performing campaigns based on the data from your analytics program, which is a valid action for the possible answers, as in requirement C. With all three of the requirements met, you are ready to go.   

I strongly recommend that you have your questions ready before starting your web analytics sessions.  When you apply this practice, you’ll find your web analytics sessions to be shorter, you’ll get your answers faster, and the answers will apply to your business goals.

Michael Stebbins
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