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Analytics and the Development Process II: Data and Strategy

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Catherine Hathaway
Marketing and Research

We’ve talked before about our favorite free tool on the internet, Google Analytics. Today, we’ll take it a step further and discuss in more depth just how much information you can mine from the annals of Google’s near-unbelieveable data cache with goals and funnels.

With minor tweaks to the analytics-generated code, it’s possible to track individual pages, products, or events with Goals. Goals are used differently from our next subject, funnels, but the two concepts can be used together to to really get granular with your company’s website data. How you define these goals is entirely up to you- the only necessary elements are a URL to track and correctly-formatted source code.

(Luckily, the Google help blog is unparalleled, except for maybe the phone support that can be provided over the phone. If you’re ever truly stuck, there are experts available (starting at 9am PST) to get you over the initial hump and start tracking that data.)

For example, if you run a retail storefront, like our sister company left-click, you might want to create a general goal for selling backpacks or laptop bags, and another, more specific goal for certain brands or styles. For businesses that provide services rather than goods, like Last Call Media, that means tracking information like number of portfolio downloads, pageview patterns before inquiry, or which content generates the most pageviews.

Keeping track of this information is useful for way more than just inventory: knowing the habits, patterns, and preferences of your web traffic clientele facilitates excellent customer service- whether that means killer content to draw in prospective clients or keeping abreast of the most recent trends in your particular commercial niche. It doesn’t take a business genius to understand that analyzing data and making appropriate changes to inventory or content will only take a business so far. Beyond that, it’s up to the team to utilize the data provided and create a transparent, leading-edge service initiative with which to retain and improve client relations.

This brings us to the next topic, funnels. Funnels are a tool that allow businesses to track, court, and complete the lead generation process. Traditionally, that means starting at the top, with all of the website data being tracked in Google Analytics, and running it through a self-determined elimination process for all leads, sifting out the non-starters and aggressively (or not aggressively) following up until the spout narrows and paying customers magically flow out.

If that sounded facetious, it’s for good reason: For as long as anyone’s been encouraging you to go get that Marketing MBA, funnels have been used as the go-to tool to determine which leads are worth pursuing and which are, as we joke around the office, “tire-kickers.” The problem with traditional funnels, though, is that it puts the bottom line in front of the importance of your clients, and truly, that is yesterday’s strategy. Mail Chimp founder Ben Chestnut shares this belief, and his funnel strategy takes into account what we believe to be the better tactic when considering the funnel model.

When you first start out,you don’t need a huge swath of customers or clients landing on your site- what you need is to provide the kind of service that brings people back, and that’s why goals are the more important element of this strategy. That’s not everything, of course, but it’s a solid strategy for those businesses whose budgets and staff resources can’t support the wide-cast net of a traditional funnel model. Truthfully, even larger companies, who can support huge campaigns and have a crack-team of marketing professionals with eyes on the funnel at all times, should consider this reversal of the previous paradigm. Any business worth its consulting fees will understand that putting customer care first is the only real way to convince your clients that you’re the real deal. When your clients come first, they know it- and that’s the best marketing strategy out there. If you’re interested in learning more about how to leverage these strategies for your business, contact us.

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