why use reporting and analytics

Reporting Analytics – Why Use Them

Reporting analytics are used to answer questions about what we are doing and what we want to have happen.

  • Are we achieving our objectives?
  • Is what we’re doing working?

The value of data is only available through reporting analytics and insight, and insight is useless until it’s turned into action.

Data -> Reporting -> Analysis -> Decision -> Action -> Value

reporting analyticsData – raw feed available from a variety of sources

Reporting – organizing the raw data, categorizing it and making it readily available

Analysis – to strike upon insight you first need to know where to dig.  Articulating the right questions will lead us to the well.  Applying agile methodology enables us to test our hypothesis, learn from it, draw a new hypothesis, test it and learn from it and repeat the iterations.

Decision – After analyzing your data you have to decide what needs to change.  There is a corollary element that must go hand-in-hand with decision, and that is commitment.  A commitment to take action on the new knowledge derived from our analysis.

Action – Knowledge is not power; action is power.  Once a decision has been made, action is the mode of the day.

Value – Ahhh, value – value can only be obtained through decision and action.  Value is what we all want.

Analytics is valuable in two ways:

  1. It shows you where you are wasting time and/or money and
  2. It reveals new opportunities for growth.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a branding play or a high-volume PPC campaign; the goal of marketing is to produce more revenue and profit for a business – period.

Simply tracking ROI isn’t enough, though. You can know your overall marketing efforts are profitable and still waste a pile of cash on individual campaigns.

This is how reporting analytics helps us determine the qualitative and quantitative value from your business data to drive a continual improvement of the online experience that your customers and potential customers have which translates to your desired outcomes.

One of the most important steps of reporting analytics is determining what your ultimate business objectives or outcomes are and how you expect to measure those outcomes. In the online world, there are five common business objectives:

  • For E-commerce sites, the objective is selling products or services.

  • For lead generation sites, the goal is to collect user information for sales teams to connect with potential leads.

  • For content publishers, the goal is to encourage engagement and frequent visitation.

  • For online informational or support sites, helping users find the information they need in the right place at the right time.

  • For branding, the main objective is to drive awareness, engagement and loyalty.

There are a variety of key actions on any website or mobile application that tie back to a business’ objectives.  The actions can indicate an objective, such as a purchase on an ecommerce site, has reporting analyticsbeen fully completed.  These are “macro” conversions.  Some of the actions on a site may also be behavioral indicators that a customer hasn’t fully reached your main objectives but is getting closer, such as in the e-commerce example, signing up to receive an email coupon or a new product notification.  These are “micro” conversions.  It’s important to measure both micro and macro conversions so that you are equipped with more behavioral data to understand what experiences help drive the right outcomes for your site.

Segmentation allows you to isolate and analyze subsets of your data.  For example, you might segment your data by marketing channel so that you can see which channel is responsible for an increase in purchases.  Drilling down to look at segments of your data helps you understand what caused a change to your aggregated data.

For Example:

  • Segment your data by date and time, to compare how users who visit your site on certain days of the week or certain hours of the day behave differently.
  • Segment your data by device to compare user performance on desktops, tablets and mobile devices.
  • Segment by marketing channel to compare the difference in performance for various marketing activities.
  • Segment by geography to determine which countries, regions or cities perform the best.
  • Segment by customer characteristics, such as repeat customers vs. first-time buyers to help you to understand what drives users to become customers.
  • A macro conversion occurs when someone completes an action that’s important to your business. For an ecommerce business, the most important macro conversion is usually a transaction.  A micro conversion is also an important action, but it does not immediately contribute to your bottom line.  It’s usually an indicator that a user is moving towards a macro conversion.  It’s important to measure micro conversions because it helps you better understand where people are in the Educational Spectrum.
  • Attribution is assigning credit for a conversion. In last-click attribution, all of the value associated with the conversion is assigned to the last marketing activity that generated the revenue.  However, there are other attribution models that can help you better understand the value of each of your channels.  For example, rather than assign all of the value to the last action, you might want to assign all of the value to the first action, the one that started the user on the customer journey.  This is called first-click attribution.  Or, you might assign a little bit of value to each of the assisting channels in the customer journey.

The measurement planning cycle consists of the following:

  • Define your measurement plan
    1. Document your business objectives.
    2. Identify the strategies and tactics to support the objectives.
    3. Choose the metrics that will be the key performance indicators.
    4. Decide how you’ll need to segment your data.
    5. Choose what your targets will be for your key performance indicators.
  • Create an implementation plan
    After defining your business needs and documenting the technical environment of your business, create an implementation plan that is specific to the analytics tool that you’re using. For Google Analytics, this means defining the code snippets and specific product features that you’ll need in order to track the data defined in your measurement plan.
  • Implement your plan
    The next step is to have the web development team, or the mobile team, actually implement the tracking recommendations that you’ve made. Some website technologies will require additional planning, such as:

    • Query string parameters
    • Server redirects
    • Flash and AJAX events
    • Multiple domains and subdomains
    • Responsive web design

reporting analyticsThe most common features used in an Reporting Analytics implementation plan for a website are as follows:

  • Implement the standard Reporting Analytics tracking snippet. This gives you the bulk of the data you need.
  • Determine how to track your KPIs. You can do this using goal tracking and the ecommerce module if you are an ecommerce business.
  • Use filters to normalize your data so that your reports are accurate and useful.
  • Use campaign tracking and AdWords linking to properly track marketing campaigns.
  • Use custom dashboards and custom reports to simplify the reporting process.

Maintain and refine.

The final step of the measurement planning cycle is to maintain and refine your plan.  Your business requirements and your technical environment can change over time.  Without a team to maintain your measurement plan, your data won’t keep pace with your reporting and analysis needs.

In summary, reporting shows us what is happening while analysis focuses on explaining why it is happening and what we can do about it.  Reporting Analytics focuses on different tasks such as questioning, examining, interpreting, comparing, and confirming.