Web analytics is probably one of the most least understood disciplines in online promotions, web development and Internet marketing. Unfortunately, it is also probably the most powerful driver of your success. If you cannot measure and plan your online projects’ success, chances are, you will fail. As the old saying goes, if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. This definitely applies to making money online.
Whether you run an e-commerce website, a blog, an online catalog or an informational site, it doesn’t matter. You need to wrap your mind around web analytics the right way, or else you will be basically spending a lot of time being puzzled as to why your website isn’t really fully living up to its potential. If you want to take your online business to a higher level, you really have to master web analytics.
The problem with this however, is that there are so many common misconceptions regarding web analytics. These misconceptions actually defeat competent practice of web analytics so much that people are essentially left settling for mediocre analysis of their own data. They are basically left settling for less than optimal results. It doesn’t have to be this way. By clearing up these misconceptions you can go a long way in really taking you business to a much higher level. And I’m not just talking about profitability, I’m talking about overall value.
Here are the five most common misconceptions people have about web analytics:
Misconception 1: Analytics is Merely Counting
It’s funny when you meet people at webmaster conventions or web developer conventions how this misconception keeps cropping up. People would say:
“Well, I do analytics because I have a statistics counter. That’s my analytics. I had 223 uniques on average a day last month!”
Well, the funny thing about Google Analytics is its name. People think that the simple use of a statistics counter is analytics. You only need to use this piece of software and tada you have analytics. No, it’s not. Analytics is not about counting data and knowing you’re getting X visitors a day or Y hits from Twitter. It’s about the analysis of this data. You need to dig deep into understanding the why and how. By knowing the why and how, you can work to push your traffic higher and work to improve those traffic sources to generate MORE traffic.
What is the difference between a successful person and a person who is having a tough time making ends meet? A successful person is able to plan, and that plan becomes reality. That’s the bottom line. And people who confuse analytics with merely counting cannot exert their will on their plans. They have plans, but these plans are merely wishes. They don’t pan out. A key part of this is because of this misconception regarding analytics.
Misconception 2: Analytics is Self-Executing
This is a logical outgrowth of the first misconception. According to this thinking, all you need to do is sign up to Google Analytics (there are of course other web analytics software options), install their code and well… You’re pretty much set.
Analytics is not a set it and forget it type of set up. You can set it up. You can install it, but you need to get on it. You need to stay on it. You need to monitor it. You need to pay attention to the data that you’re getting, and most importantly, feed that data into an analysis framework.
Unfortunately, most people fail to realize that analysis framework doesn’t reside in the analytics software itself. Sure, most analytics software in this day and age have all sorts on interesting graphics and interesting statistics but when you look at the key decision points, it still takes place in the most powerful analytics software ever invented. That’s right. It takes place in your brain. So start using it!
Misconception 3: The Whole Point of Analytics is to Get More Traffic
I love this misconception because it really gets to the heart of many frustrating conversations. I have been online on Skype and on webmaster forums, with other website developers, webmasters and online entrepreneurs who hold this strange belief. The whole thinking that analytics really exists just so you can get more traffic is ridiculous. If you play the game this way, I’m sorry to say it, but you’re playing the game to lose. You really are. Because if you think that analytics is just to get more traffic, then you are blind sided. You take your focus off where it needs to go.
Traffic Doesn’t Matter!
Let me break it down to you. Traffic doesn’t matter. What does matter? Conversions. Traffic doesn’t put money in your pocket. Conversions do. Keep that in mind. The whole point of analytics is to boost conversions. It’s not to get traffic for traffics’ sake. I would rather have ten visitors every single day with 20% of those visitors converting into sales and each sale being worth four hundred dollars rather than having a site that gets thousands of websites. Usually with volume traffic, the temptation is very high to ride the high volume and not really optimize your website. As a result, you probably walk away with less money with a high-volume traffic website than with highly targeted and highly optimized website.
The key lesson here is to use analytics to focus on improving your conversions over increasing your traffic.
Misconception 4: Analytics Only Impact Website Performance
Another common misunderstanding regarding analytics is that when you look at all these fancy numbers, it just shows how your website is performing. You can then use all this analytics measurement and improve the websites’ performance. That’s all well and good but website performance in itself is not going to put money in your pocket. Website performance doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
You have to optimize website performance so you can increase conversions performance. Conversion performance is the end game. That is what you should be shooting for. That is what is going to make you rich. You might have a great performing website, but if it’s just performance for itself without any focus on profitability, you’re really just wasting your time.
Misconception 5: Traffic is the Ultimate Key Performance Indicator
Again, this lie keeps showing up in many different phrases and in many different forums. I want to drive a stake through its heart once and for all. Don’t focus on the traffic. Focus on conversion. That is the real gift that analytics brings to the table. Real analytics focuses on conversion. Real analytics focuses on money, real money. It’s too easy to get excited about traffic but if traffic doesn’t convert, you’re not gonna make any money. And guess what, you need money to keep your business going. You need money to keep real score.