Remember that time you tried analyzing your Google Analytics data? All it took was a few seconds to realize that it was an ocean of data. Knowing where to start can be somehow overwhelming. Here’s our 4 steps guide to help you surf your website’s data without racking your brain. Note that this methodology can apply to any tool you are using to collect data. Now, don’t you worry no more! Let’s dive straight to the heart of the matter.
1. Set Your Goals
First, you need to know what your objectives are to understand what the statistics are you must study. Ask yourself why you are doing this analysis. Your organization might already have one, but make sure it’s related to your website.
Let’s take the example of a surf company. It has a sales target of 4 million dollars this year (assume that we will always be speaking of million of dollars in this post) and that the website usually generates half of the sales. Thereby, we could set the website’s sales target to 2 million.
You could also split your goal in smaller goals. Per say, our surf company could have the goal to generate 1 million in sales with it’s online marketing campaigns during the first half of the year. To meet their goal, the company will use an ad campaign on google and Facebook.
You probably already heard of the SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely). This methodology will help you with the M in SMART, specifically to measure your objectives.
2. Define KPIs
The Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are the stats you want to track to confirm or bust your hypothesis. In our Surf company example, the KPI is the sales in dollars. At this point of our analysis, all we must do is determined if we reached our goal (or not). If we reached 1 million in sales online in the first 6 months of the year, it succeeded. If you didn’t, you didn’t reach your goal.
The sales example is an easy one and the KPI to track is obvious, but do not neglect this step. In some cases, finding the right metric is very complex and choosing which stat to track will change how you measure your success, therefore your success.
3. Track your progress
Now that your goal is set, you need to ask yourself if you’re on the way to meet it. Looking at your progress, are you expecting to reach your target or not? Answer this question by yes or no only.
You need to take a deeper look and find out where it went wrong or why it went so well. To do so, state hypothesis to help you provide a structure to your search for answers. Your hypothesis could be any of the factors you think could have influenced your result: your website’s traffic, your bounce rate, your ad campaign! It will help you clarify what you want to verify precisely and help find out what metrics you should use to validate it. In the process, use only true or false answers so you don’t get lost in your data ocean again!
Let us go back to the surf business. The company did not hit their target. Since the answer to our question is no, they did not reach their goal, we must state hypothesis regarding to why it did not work such as:
- The sale objective on Google Ads is reached.
- The Facebook campaign reached its sale target.
- There is more competition on the keywords we are targeting on the search network.
4. Close the loop
Even if the cause is obvious, do not take for granted that it is the only one that lead to your failure. You have an ocean of data to validate your questioning. Take advantage of it! The goal here is to state new hypotheses and to validate them until you are satisfied of the answers you find.
For example, even if there is more competition on your keywords on Google Ads, raising the click prices and cause the number of clicks to drop for the same budget, there might be other reasons why the surf company did not meet its target.
Let’s get back to our surf company example and state hypotheses. It didn’t reach its million in the first 6 months of the year as set in its goal. If I were managing their data, here is the thinking process I would have:
Hypothesis 1: The global sales objective for the first semester is not reached.
Answer 1: True, it’s not reached.
H2.1: The sales objective of the Google Ads is not reached.
A2.1: True, it’s not reached
H2.2: The sales objective of the Facebook ads is not reached.
A2.2: False, it’s reached
H2.3: The sales objective of the newsletter is not reached.
A2.3: False, it’s reached
Therefore, there might be a problem with the Google Ads. Let’s have a closer look.
H3.1: There are less clicks on the ads.
H3.2: Less people saw our ads.
A3.2: False, we have a stable number of impressions
H3.3: The cost per click is higher than usual.
A3.3: True, we pay more per click.
So, we can afford less clicks because they are more expensive. Why?
H4.1: There is more competition on the keywords we are targeting on the search network.
A4.1: True! A new competitor targets the same keywords as us, leading to a rise in the clicks’ price.
To resume, the sales objective as not been reached because a competitor targets the same keywords as us on Google Ads. Our surf company as an answer why it didn’t reach the objective. All it must do is deciding how to get around this issue.
Even if some questions go beyond your knowledge, nothing keeps you from using this methodology within what you are comfortable dealing with. For the parts you are not familiar with, at least you will have clear questions at hand that you will be able to ask your marketing agency or to your campaign manager. You will then get clear answers and will be able to make more enlightened decisions. If you go one hypothesis at the time and that you keep your goals in mind while doing so, you will be surfing your data with flying colors.
Written by : Jean-Nicolas Lévesque