How to use analytics to optimise your business decisions

Analytics are powerful. You can track and collect data on anything – but what does that data mean?

More and more, organisations are looking towards making data-driven decisions. They want low-risk solutions backed up by in-depth user data. Unfortunately, many still lack the basic analytics set-up to respond to their business objectives. They rarely take action, and when they do, they often can’t justify those actions with clean and well-integrated data.

Although many organisations are gathering large amounts of data, Richard Roberts, analytics and optimisation lead at Squiz, believes that there’s not enough focus on how that data is being used.

“Many people get confused when it comes to analytics,” he says. “They hear the term analytics and presume that because they’ve added Google’s tracking code on their site, that they’re doing enough – but there’s much more to it than that.”

Essentially, Google Analytics is just one of the many tools you can use to gather insights on your user data. Your analytics strategy will determine how you’ll use the data you’re collecting to achieve your objectives and optimise your website experience to benefit your business.

In Richard’s view, optimisation works best in an iterative cycle. “There are four main stages in an optimisation cycle – data collection is just one of those parts.”

Add meaning to your data by measuring what’s important

At the initial data collection stage, the majority of organisation will be gathering clickstream data, such as where users are coming into your site, how long they’re staying on your site and what their exit points are.

“Although this information can be used at a high level, it’s not targeted enough to make educated decisions on how you should begin optimising your digital product,” says Richard.

Through custom configuration of your data collection tools, you can begin providing meaning to this high-level data. By building a measurement plan, you’ll be able to identify your business objectives and your key performance indicators (KPIs).

Once you’ve defined these standards against which you’ll measure your success, you can start piecing together a plan for what you need from your analytics tools in order to collect this data.

Understand your customer’s actions to develop rich user insights

With the metrics for tracking the success of your KPIs identified, you can begin collecting additional data to give you insights into why your users are doing what they’re doing.

Many organisation, however, rely only on their basic clickstream data to make informed decisions. And while this data will provide insight into what your users are doing, it won’t give you much understanding around those actions.

“The why is just as important – if not more – than the what,” says Richard. “If you’ve identified gaps within a user’s journey on your site – say, for example, that your users are dropping off at the check-out of your online store – you need to understand why that’s happening.”

Feedback you gather from your users through channels such as surveys, on-page polls, heat maps, and screen recordings allows you to develop your Voice of the Customer (VoC). This VoC can then provide greater insight into the thought processes of your users and the reasoning behind their actions. These insights allow you to build a better hypothesis for optimisation.

Build data-driven solutions to minimise risk and maximise user satisfaction

By building these deep and rich user insights, you’ll mitigate the risk to your organisation. Instead of making business decisions based on assumptions, you’ll corroborate your hypothesis with the data you’re collecting, and they’ll align with your business goals and objectives.

“You’ll find gaps during your analytics analysis that are low-risk and can be implemented directly on your live site – items such as broken links and slow-loading pages,” says Richard. “But there will be additional, higher risk items that will need further insights and testing.”

For high-risk items, like updating the checkout process on an online store, a wrong hypothesis could mean a costly mistake for your company. In these cases, Richard recommends that testing should be performed to minimise this danger. “A/B testing allows you to deliver and test two versions of a page to identify which version performs better,” says Richard. “This testing provides you with the final piece of rich insight into which solution users are more inclined to engage with.”

Measure your success and iteratively improve your optimisation capabilities

Richard stresses that it’s vital to continue measuring your user data in order to justify the costs and management of your analytics implementation. ”By building further insights, you’ll be able to measure the success of your solutions,” he says.

Ultimately, with the right analytics strategy, you can prove the return on your investments, whether you’re adding new features or refining a certain user journey.

Improve your analytics capabilities today. Optimise your business actions by developing an analytics strategy that will help you create rich user insights.

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