This is a guest post written by Asi Dayan, Head of Marketing at Oribi.
Everybody strives to become fully data-driven to make better-informed decisions, and there are many tools available to help you with analytics. Probably the most common website analytics tool is Google Analytics. The problem is that it can be quite complex and overwhelming to non-professional analysts. Using it the wrong way often results in making the wrong business decisions.
There are a few common mistakes that marketers tend to make when getting started with analytics. Don’t be one of them!
Here are the 4 worst and deadliest mistakes you might be doing with Google Analytics and how to avoid them:
1. You confuse visits with pageviews
A very common mistake being done by website owners, is confusing pageviews with website visits. While they may sound similar, they’re actually very different and as a website owner, you have to know the difference between them.
So what’s the difference between them, and why it is so important?
Visits – a visit occurs when a certain person visits your website. The visit ends on Google Analytics after the visitor is inactive for at least 30 minutes, or actually left your website. Even if the same person browses through multiple pages on your site, the tool counts one visit.
Pageviews – A pageview in Google Analytics is when a certain web page is being loaded or reloaded. Google Analytics will count it based on the number of times the tracking code installed on your website is reloaded. For example, if a certain user reaches your website and browses through seven different pages, Google Analytics will count it as seven different pageviews (and one visit).
So to summarize, a visit is your user who has initiated at least one session during the date range, and pageviews is the total number of pages viewed. As you can see in the image below, they can be very different:
Make sure you read this data correctly, or else you may find yourself really confused about the number of people visiting your website, and how they got there.
2. You are not tracking conversions
Since Google analytics is mainly about analyzing visitors and sessions, that’s also what most of its users, at least the ones that are not professional analysts, do with it. While you’re focusing on analyzing your visitors numbers and take decisions based on that, you’re missing the data that really matters – Your website conversions. After all, it does not end with the people getting to your website. You want them to sign up, subscribe, download an ebook or in short – Make them convert.
Focus your efforts on conversions, instead of website traffic. Using a website analytics tool without tracking conversions gives you an incomplete picture of your website results, which can lead to misinterpretations. Let’s look at an example: There’s page on your site which drives tons of traffic, but doesn’t get your visitors to take the actions you want. If you don’t measure conversions you might think that this page is great and even worse, produce more content like this one – leaving you with lots of traffic, but no conversions.
If you use Google Analytics, it requires some efforts on your side to track conversions, but it’s worth it. In order to get started, you need to make some code changes on your site and define your conversions. Actually you should keep that as your site evolves, in order to make sure everything is being tracked properly.
This can become quite time-consuming, if you don’t have a developer at hand. There are some tools on the market that take care of frequent code changes and do not require manual changes from you:
Oribi is a website analytics tool built for marketers and product teams, not just professional analysts or the large companies that can afford them. Oribi simplifies understanding website results, without involving developers. Unlike Google Analytics, Oribi automatically tracks 100% of your website events, including conversions. Oribi is designed to supply its users with exactly the data they need to understand their website results, and not overwhelm them with endless reports.
You might find Heap as a good alternative to Google Analytics, especially if you are tracking a web or ios app. Heap allows you to manually define conversions, track individual user’s behavior, segment users according to behaviors and build funnels.
HotJar is another alternative to Google Analytics. With features like heatmaps, visitors recording and funnels, it can be a suitable website analytics tool for small and medium business owners.
3. You don’t filter out your own sessions
Like most website owners, you are probably one of the most frequent users on your site. Sure, it can be great to see a lot of action on your site. But if a significant amount of the actions are being done you and your employees or colleagues, you can misunderstand your real website results. Yours and your team’s sessions can mislead you in a few ways. One way is understanding where your users are coming from. You might overestimate your organic traffic. Another way can be your conversion rate – in fact, it may seem lower than it is. Obviously, you and your team will not convert over and over again. But you will visit and create new sessions, hence it may seem you have a lower conversion rate than you really do.
That is why it’s extremely important to filter out your internal sessions from your results. Only then will you be able to get an accurate look at your website results.
4. You’re not segmenting your data
If you are only looking at aggregated data, you can’t really understand your website results. What’s the point of using Google Analytics, or any other website analytics tool, if you don’t really understand your users, and how they interact with your website.
What you should do is segment your data. It will allow you to get meaningful insights and really improve your website results, by taking the right actions. In the image below, I have segmented the data of one of my blog posts by gender, and found that mainly males read it.
There are unlimited options to segment, like by demographic, devices, behaviour, geographic locations and more. Play with different segmentations – you might be surprised by the results you see. In many cases users with different devices or from different locations can behave completely different on your website, which is something you should definitely take into account.
Your website can help you reach your business goals, but only if you really understand its’ results.
Google Analytics can be a good start, but often gets too complicated for its’ users when it comes to set up, defining conversions and understanding website results in-depth to fully leverage from the data available.
Before you consider paying an analyst or an agency to handle Google Analytics for you – or before you make the wrong decisions based on misunderstood data -, look around. There are many solutions for people who are no analysts, but try to make sense of their data.
Whatever tool you choose, make sure you completely understand the data you see. This is the first step to become fully data-driven and make better informed decisions for your business.