The Importance of Metrics
Recently I was asked to do some consulting for a company. They were developing a strategy for their online presence and wanted some assistance. The strategy involved a lot of social media and made some fairly bold claims about the returns on their investment. Upon seeing this, the first question I asked was where was the research to back these claims. There was none, and worse there was no budget to do any market research. Fortunately they had a year’s worth of web metrics that I was able to analyse and offer some practical solutions.
Metrics are often under-utilised as a market research tool, whether it be the number of hits on a website or which demographic is watching a video. Careful analysis of your metrics can yield a wealth of information that you can then use to help develop your digital strategies. Here are three:
Google Analytics is probably the most used web metric in the known universe but there are still people that either don’t know about it or fail to analyse the data. Sometimes all people use it for is to see how many hits their site is generating. It’s so much more than that. It can tell you how they reached your site, where they are based, how long they spent on the site, where they clicked out, plus a whole lot more. In the situation above, analysing the company’s data showed that their web site was attracting a different demographic from the one that they had started with. It had actually changed six months before and the company was completely unaware of the change. Once they found out it allowed them to adapt their strategy to better suit their new user-base.
Before Analytics there was the server log. Some people still prefer to log their own traffic or use it in combination with Analytics. I prefer to use a range of metrics simply because they provide me with different aspects of the traffic and it provides me with a better overview of my readers. There may also be security reasons for preferring to do it yourself or you just might not like/trust Google.
Depending on how your web server is configured there is a range of data that is being captured about the users who visit your site: where they are based, which site referred them, how long they were on the site. Many of the same things that Analytics provides. And there are even programs that will analyse this information and package it into a human-readable format (just perfect for your Powerpoint presentation or the end-of-year report). Here are two of the more popular analysers (they are also free):
Even YouTube provides a selection of metric data for the videos you upload to their site. It’s called Insight and while you do need 500 or so views for all the features to become available it provides, as the name suggests, an insight into the demographics of who is watching your videos. Gender, age, location, plus there’s even a hotspot graph that shows when your viewers got bored and clicked away. All very useful for your online video market research.
Market Research doesn’t necessarily have to cost the Earth. By analysing the data you are already collecting, and by utilising the free tools that are available, you may find that you have enough information to base your strategies upon. And even if you do need to employ an research agency you may only require a subset of the data. Meaning you save time and, more importantly, money.Tags: analysis, analytics, awstats, google, market research, metrics, online video, server logs, web, webalizer, youtube