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How clean is your analytics data?

Fri, 04/09/2015 - 00:00

Data is crucial to all your business decisions. While “hunches” and “gut-feels” can spur creativity and give birth to fantastical business concepts, making long term business decisions without data to substantiate your plans can lead you down a path of uncertainty and possibly losses.

To understand your website performance, some form of website tracking and analytics system needs to correctly record activity on the site, with Google Analytics being the most popular due to its fairly comprehensive features and ease of use. Data however needs to be refined, and without the careful tailoring of your data, you could possibly be reacting to misinformation, either putting more work in efforts that aren’t actually in line with your goals or changing a strategy that is actually yielding success. Any agency worth its salt understands some of the complications that come with data interpretation and tweak accounts to report accurate data so that their clients truly understand their web business. Rogerwilco is no different, and here are some ways we ensure the data is clean.

Correcting your bounce rates

You’ll notice this fairly quickly when looking through your analytics data and realising that your site has an average bounce rate of less than 10%, and possibly a lot lower. While we all like to think that our web content is phenomenal, that average is much lower than the 40% that Google has stated to be the average website bounce rate. The importance of having an accurate bounce rate is to discover which content on your site is “sticky” and which pages need improvements in navigation or content when people arrive at your site. Commonly unrealistic bounce rates are caused by:

  • Multiple instances of the Google Analytics tag firing on your site – multiple installations or incorrect use of i-frames
  • Incorrect use of Google Tag Manager
  • Events triggering on the page (pop ups, live chat etc.) which are not a deliberate user event and happen on each occurrence of page load.

Filtering your incoming traffic

Spam visits to your site can negatively affect the averages of your sites visitor performance. These are often used as a marketing strategy for companies, by causing you to visit the site to discover more about the source of this traffic. Not only do these visits inflate the overall number of sessions to the website by a few hundred if not over a thousand visits, but they also generally have 100% bounce rates and very little time on site, often a mere second. You will more than often notice these inside your referral traffic section of analytics, with labels like: “event-tracking.com” and “success-seo.com”

To get rid of these you can simply add filters to the incoming traffic on a domain level, but this will need to be continuously updated as more and more of these will find your sites over time.

Also, filter your own internal traffic to your site by blocking your company’s IP address from being tracked, or any 3rd party company that is working on your site to give more accurate data of your customers.

Where is your traffic being recorded?

In some cases, where you have multiple websites or subdomains for specific sections of the business, you may have instances of the same Google Analytics tag number on multiple domains, subdomains and microsites that can wreak havoc on your understanding of data. If handled correctly, this can allow you to track all your web properties in a single account, however, it’s crucial that you have different profile views which filter domain traffic for clear understanding of each property. Many people don’t get this right, so the more usual instance is to let each web property (domain/sub-domain, microsite) have its own unique Analytics tracking code.

To check whether you are tracking multiple domains from a single tracking code, use the secondary dimension in your reports labelled “hostname”, which will show you where the tracking code data is being sent from and allow you to filter this in a similar way that you would in filtering traffic.

Keep data in perspective

It should also be noted that data fixation can turn any marketing campaign into an accountant’s balancing books by causing creative to be stifled by the necessity for focusing on the minutia. You don’t want to suffer from “analysis paralysis”, where you are unable to make decisions because you focus so much on the data that you lose sight of the bigger picture. Data analysis is an assessment tool that should follow creative industry leading campaign developments and not lead. Simply by using reactionary tactics, agencies will never create innovative opportunities for growth and kill the development of digital marketing.

Clean data is accurate data that allows you to make better digital strategy decisions to improve your online marketing. While these errors will make things look rosier than they are, they aren’t helping your business grow by fooling you with false success. By knowing how good you currently are, you can align your activities to reach where you need to be.