Why Small Businesses Shouldn’t Blindly Trust Their Website Analytics

3 minute read

BuiltWith, a
company that analyzes the technology behind websites, reports that over 27 million live websites are using
Google Analytics. Since this product is used by the vast majority of all
reported websites who use some form of visitor tracking, chances are
you’re using it too. But even though it’s free, are you getting your money’s
worth?

With the
proliferation of analytics tools there should be an easy way for small
businesses to use all that collected data to help improve their business
prospects and revenue opportunities. Therein lies the challenge: It still
requires a lot of time and expertise to study the data to gain
insights. And most of the time, the biggest challenge is that the
data is incomplete.

How the Data
Is Incomplete

A visitor
visits a website, likes what they see, but isn’t ready to make a purchase and instead
registers for the company’s newsletter. Several weeks later, they receive an
email and click through to read a blog article. They read two other articles
before clicking a link in one of the blogs to a product and making a
purchase.

In this
example, several different systems – all with their own tracking mechanisms –
could be involved. Let’s break down those systems:

  1. Website with analytics.
  2. Email marketing system from a third party that has its own
        tracking system.
  3. Blog powered by a separate system with its own analytics.
  4. A shopping cart, also with analytics.

When the
owner looks at their website analytics they see that their website had a
visitor referred from their blog, but may wrongly attribute the original
source as the blog itself. Because the blog system was separate, the website
analytics displays the last URL the customer visited before coming to
the website, which wasn’t even the original blog article they visited.

On top of
that, a purchase was made, but the website owner has no clue that the same
person visited the blog. They also have no idea that it was an email that
triggered the initial visit because the shopping cart system is also separate.
To the shopping cart system, it was the website that referred the customer.

Your head is
probably hurting trying to follow this logic, and you’re not alone. A typical
small business owner doesn’t have the time nor the expertise to analyze website
visitors across different systems to make informed decisions. In this scenario
they have no idea that their blog contributed to a sale initiated by an email
marketing campaign. They may decide that blogging and email marketing aren’t
worth the effort and stop doing both, which would be a detriment to their
business.

Improving
Your Data Collection

If the data
you’re collecting doesn’t give you a complete picture of what’s really
happening, then what’s the point? This was the exact question we asked
ourselves. We felt helpless when our customers would seek our guidance,
especially since we were in the business of building websites. We could tell
them how many visitors, hits, page views and other useless metrics they were
getting, but to give them true insight was difficult and time consuming. To
help improve both ours and our customers’ businesses, we had to not only
integrate all of the common website functions together, but make sure the
analytics worked together too.

The latest
version of BannerOS, our platform
for managing a website
, integrates analytics across many different website functions. This
provides a more complete picture of the data needed to make business-impacting
decisions. When a visitor comes to our customers’ websites, they can easily
follow the path through various systems to determine what initially triggered
the visit along with other useful demographic data such as location information
about their visitors. This helps them invest in efforts that are producing
results and stop the activities that aren’t.

Hubspot
provides tools to help companies make informed decisions with their data.
Their software can provide customized experiences to website visitors based upon data collected
throughout their previous interactions. The more customized the experience, the
more likely a potential customer converts to an actual customer.

Infusionsoft
provides a similar approach as Hubspot. Their solution lets businesses collect data across multiple touch points, then use that data to automate the marketing
process.

It’s
important to analyze the data and not exclusively rely on marketing automation
solutions due to the fact that customer profiles and businesses change. All
those changes should be evaluated on a regular basis to ensure what the data is
telling you is consistent with your business goals.

Collecting
data is par for the course. Everybody is doing it, but small businesses have
yet to really gain much insight from it. Thankfully, new technology is
improving the choices businesses can make by creating a more complete data
profile.

Mark Cenicola
is the President and CEO 
BannerView.com and the author of The Banner Brand: Small Business Success Comes from a BannerBrand, Build it on a Budget.

Young
Entrepreneur Council (YEC)
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