Website analytics tools can contribute to design decisions to improve the online experience of visitors, but also to inform site and business owners about the performance of their websites. However, in many cases, e-commerce managers, webmasters, or web operations managers, begin to implement website analytics tools simply as a “nice to have” tool. Rather than measure performance and compare it to business goals, they mostly communicate raw analytics data to senior management, without further explanation or recommendations for site improvement.
To take advantage of the value that website analytics tools can provide, the following major mistakes should be avoided:
1) Business Goals Not Established for Individual Sections of the Site – In most organizations, the business owners responsible for a subpart of the corporate website have not defined specific business goals for its subparts. For example, a subpart of a website could be customer support, which can be broken down into self-service tools (e.g. FAQ, driver download, etc.), support contact information, warranties, user manuals , etc. Measuring the performance of a site or a subpart of the site is only valuable if the measured performance can be compared to the intended objectives. If business owners do not set business goals, analysis cannot determine site performance. Ecommerce managers or web operations managers who are in charge of implementing website analytics tools should help business owners define the detailed business objectives of their website subparts (read also, “Who Should set business goals “, Steve Telleen).
2) Site owners or site section owners are not trained to understand analytics reports: In most organizations, site owners or business owners of a specific sub-site cannot take advantage of analytics reports. website analytics tools as many of them don’t understand the benefits of such a measurement approach. Ecommerce managers should first explain the benefits and importance of this performance measurement as an integral part of their web performance measurement program. The second step includes explaining what is measured and how the measured data can help business owners to further improve their sub-parts of the site (for example, change the navigation sections or cross-links, provide and update the section with the ‘most used links’, etc.). If business owners are not sensitized and / or untrained on how to leverage the value of the website analytics report, they most likely will not even start reading the reports and all efforts to measure website performance using Website analysis tools are wasted.
3) The data points of the website analytics tools are not related to each other: the website analytics tools measure data points for a defined period of time, such as the number of page views, the number of unique visitors , the number of visits, etc. However, these data points do not add any value. For example, a high number of page views may indicate that site visitors get lost in navigation and navigate many pages to find what they are looking for compared to fewer page views, which may indicate that site visitors are site directly find your information in few clicks due to efficient site navigation. It is critical that web analysts relate individual data points to derive value that can be translated into site improvements and that value can be communicated to business owners to inform them of their specific site performance. For example, to measure the effectiveness of online support, web analysts should measure and relate the following key performance indicators (KPIs):
a) Stickiness = total amount of time spent viewing all pages in the support section divided by the total number of unique site visitors in the support section and
b) Focus = average number of pages visited in the support section divided by the total number of pages in the support section.