I'll come clean, I'm not <em>that</em> into data. Well, at least I never thought I was. I mean I like facts and stuff, and heck, I even like the odd statistic or two. It's a guy thing. Anyway, as I trained as a graphic designer back in 'the day' (now officially short hand for the 80s) I didn't need to concern myself too much with 'data'. Then came the internet and designers were suddenly convincing businesses to 'have an online presence'. It was a fairly isolationist approach at the time which hardly took into consideration the broader concept of online marketing at all. Web sites were simply an extension of a brochure, isolated pages filled with text. You want some data with that? Here's a counter on your web page, now you know how many people have 'hit' your site. Job done. <strong>Counter-criticism</strong> Now many businesses consider their website as part of their marketing strategy and an opportunity to advance their business goals. So it still surprises how many people still undervalue the wealth of free useful and sophisticated data available to them about their site and its visitors. You might not believe how many people I have spoken with who still either a) don't really look at their web site analytics reports at all or b) appear to be only interested in the 'number of visitors'. Google Analytics allows us to track the journey a visitor takes on a web site yet so many are still stuck with a kind of 'hit counter' mentality. <strong></strong>Used correctly it can address strategic questions and allows us to see what's going on at a tactical level - why <em>wouldn't</em> you want that knowledge and insight?<strong> </strong> <strong>It's all about goals </strong>Whether your 'customer ecosystem' (the cycle of acquiring, converting and retaining customers) has at its heart a process which is transactional or lead generation focused you still need to know if it's succeeding or not. For example at Intersurgical we set up specific goals in Google Analytics for enquiries made via our website form and also for visitors looking at 10 pages or more during the same visit. This allows us to quickly see if we're achieving what we set out to do: generate some leads and produce a variety of interesting content. All of this can inform the web design process too, allowing us to gain understanding about the usability of the site. Ooh, and what about <em>advanced segments</em> - do visitors from the North of England convert into enquiries more than those from the Midlands? Well let's just have a look shall we?<strong> </strong> <strong>Performance not 'guess work' </strong>Data and me get along a bit better these days - it's a more <em>meaningful</em> relationship you see. It's really worth spending some time and effort to learn a bit more about analytics to make your online marketing efforts measurable and maximise the ROI.<strong> </strong>Defining these online strategies should be based on performance and not left to chance or rely on guess work. <strong> </strong>
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