How to make analytics work for you

Which of your marketing activities convert the best?

  • What activities drive the most traffic to your website?
  • Which are the three most trafficked pages on your site?
  • How are they converting? Are people doing what you want them to when they land on those pages?
  • When you’ve done guest posts or interviews, which websites surprised you? When did you get more traffic than you expected, and when did you provide content to a larger site and get very little return?

Still with me? Let’s go for another round.

  • What is the path people typically navigate when they are new to your site?
  • How long do people typically spend on your site? Is it above or below average?
  • Do you have specific pages to drive sign ups for your newsletter or programs? How are they converting?
  • Where are the dead zones on your site? Which pages do people look at and leave?

Assuming your marketing is mostly online (blog, newsletter, social media, guest posting, interviewing) . . .

You should be able to answer all of these questions off the top of your head.

I could rattle off answers to all of those questions. I could tell you which big-name bloggers didn’t send any traffic my way, who surprised me when their readers signed up for my newsletter and sent me lovely emails, which of my friends send killer traffic with every tweet, and which don’t, even though they have big followings.

I could tell you which pages are on my review and revise list, and how people typically flow through my content. I could tell you how I went from having an embarrassingly high bounce rate to getting to a place I feel really good about.

But I won’t. Because it doesn’t matter, not even a tiny bit, what works for my business.

All that matters is what creates results for your business.

And if you’re not tracking, then you can’t know.

If you feel like you’re doing everything you’re supposed to, but you’re not getting the traction you want, I can virtually guarantee you’re not looking into your analytics.

Here’s the good news: You can make metrics work for you even if you’re not a numbers person . . . tweet it!

First, don’t get caught up in the weeds. The numbers, on their own, don’t matter. Your objective in using analytics is to draw conclusions, to look for trends. This is important no matter what the numbers are — whether you have 200 weekly visitors or 100,000.

For this reason, it doesn’t even matter how you review your analytics. My process is highly intuitive (read: obsessive). I like to watch my analytics in real time, rather than set up elaborate reports and spreadsheets. I’m actually in talks with someone to create a system for my clients, because it’s not how I naturally work.

It doesn’t matter how you do it. You can obsessively check your metrics in real-time like I do, or hire someone like Liz Lockard to help you set up systems and reports. As long as you’re doing it.

Look for trends. What’s important is how people behave once they land on your site. Do they immediately click over to your blog? Your about page? Do they simply drift away?

The big question here is: How successful are you in getting people to take the action you want them to take?

Adjust and experiment! Once you’ve drawn some conclusions, it’s time to make changes to your content. Plug the holes, make sure your highest trafficked pages show off your best side. Brainstorm new content that takes your new understanding of visitor behavior into account. Stop guest posting on sites that do nothing for you — and look for more of the ones that do.

Repeat. Looking at your analytics and adjusting is not a 1-time activity. It’s something to build on, as you test new content and marketing channels. Think: continuous improvement.

Speaking of which, I need to go update a few pages . . .