The secret life of data: web analysis as a key to the maze of the online world

Aneta Hejnová

​​​The online world might seem like a chaotic anthill to some. It’s easy to get lost in it – that is, unless we provide a clear, predefined and intuitive path to the user.  How to draft such a path and how to create a pleasant and functional place among all this chaos is the subject of web analytics and SEO, among others.

​We have all been there. Looking for a specific product or information on a company website or application. And no matter how hard we try, we can’t seem to find it. The reaction is always the same: we get frustrated, quickly close the website and, if possible, avoid it in the future. Frustration from a website turns to dissatisfaction with the whole company. Customers then often share their poor experience with others, spreading a negative image of the company. One of the ways to avoid such moments is to perform a web analysis focusing on determining the weaknesses of the web or application. Such an analysis should automatically be included in larger budgets intended for the development of any online environment and is definitely worth the cost even for smaller projects.

Nowadays many companies often approach web analytics as reporting tools to retrospectively assess the parameters, ideally to identify a growing trend that they can present at a meeting. However, web analytics have so much more to offer. The key is to correctly interpret the obtained data and statistics, test the different variants and then recommend how to properly optimize the website and its contents. Only then do web analytics become profitable for a business. ​

Another potential of web analytics lies in the interconnection of data obtained from online systems with internal data available to companies in their CRM databases (business analysis): Interconnection of these data provides a complex overview of the customers, their behavior and their relationship with company, as well as information on all their online and offline activities. In this way we can obtain a realistic depiction of the behavior and needs of all our clients. The following table indicates the main differences between web and business analysis.​

Seven web analytics tips for successful businesses​

• Less is more. Measure and evaluate data that you actually use.

• Integrate data in one place and automate it.

• Don't trust advertising systems when evaluating your marketing.

• Don't settle for the average in data.

• Track the behaviour of certain segments of your users.

• Ask for advice.

• It’s never too late for analytics.​​​​

When the customer is online-only

The pandemic chased a lot of people into the online world but even before that, a lot of us simply preferred online shops to the brick-and-mortar ones. This is very obvious for example in the area of clients’ online zones. It is much more convenient to resolve a request over a phone than to have to go to a branch office. Especially since the opening hours are often the same as our own working hours. 

The online environment if oftentimes the only point of contact of the customer with the company. This is why customers’ feedback and the ability to analyze their movement and reactions in the online world are absolutely crucial. In the first phase it is important to have properly configured web or mobile analytics. Do we really obtain all the necessary data? This question can be answered by a data audit - different data are required for marketing than for product managers or the Risk department. 

The second phase focuses on data collection. If we have a CRM database, we’re looking for a lead, a link between this database and the web part. These data allow us to see the steps of individual users, their behavior, what parts of the web they pay attention to and where they get lost. 

With the use of visualization tools, we can then turn analytical graphs into something more user friendly. The output consists of analytical dashboards that can have a different form for a manager than, e.g., for a dealer. The important thing is that both of them can work with these dashboards on a daily basis; as an online tool they are continuously updated and available at any time. This saves a lot of time (and consequently money) in comparison to classic evaluations.

Another advantage of analytical dashboards is the visualization of data in a single place. This then provides a starting point for the next important phase - data interpretation. During this phase it is possible to use the classic A/B testing method, where we create hypotheses and them test them out using data. An example? Our client, a leading Czech virtual operator, contemplated whether they should guide their users directly to the ordering form of the product during a marketing campaign or whether they should provide more information about the product first. We monitored which variant will result in higher sales of the given product.

The third part of web analytics, which is also most interesting in terms of business, is the data interpretation itself. It is important to be able to obtain information useful for one's business from the data. There are various advertising systems available on the market, as well as evaluation tools for example in Facebook Business Manager or Google Ads. Each tool uses different methodology for conversions and a different so-called attribution window. Simply put, generally configured metrics provide conclusions that may be too generalized. This is why it is always more effective to have custom-made analytics and to take advantage of other options, such as SEO. That is a set of methods whose aim is to bring as many relevant visitors to your site from an organic search.​

What is SEO

A set of methods aimed at bringing as many relevant visitors as possible to a site from an organic search.

Why is it important

The websites that search engines place on the first page of their search results are those that they consider to be a suitable and trustworthy source of information for the given search query. SEO methods help us to build this authoritativeness.

Who should do it

SEO is used by every website – it is important to know how to determine which steps to start with. Work with content will be far more important for small websites that present things such as services and references for a particular business, while a huge goods comparison site will need to work with technical SEO parameters.

The link between web analytics and SEO

Analytics is an incredibly valuable source of information for SEO. It helps to evaluate the overall success of content, discover new link building opportunities or assess how user-friendly a site's navigation or filtering are.​​

The approach to web analytics can be turned around: a helper can be turned into a marketing tool. This trend is employed for example by growth hacking, a type of marketing typical namely for start-ups in the Western world. The goal is to obtain the biggest possible market share in a relatively short span of time and to target so-called early adopters who form the first customer base and then bring in new customers. This method is based on innovative marketing communication, testing and rapid adapting of the product to the customers. At its core lies the utilization of data from analytics and testing of hypotheses via hundreds of thousands of small A/B tests that result in continuous improvement of the design of the new product. This type of marketing is based exclusively on data about what worked the best on future clients. Giants such as Facebook, Airbnb, Dropbox and Spotify are typical examples of companies that use growth hacking.​

Can one survive without analytics? Yes, but...

Of course, you can run a business without any analytics. In terms of small companies – if you have any kind of marketing, you need to know how well it works. For larger companies, analytics is an absolute must; otherwise it’s like being forced to traverse the online world blindfolded. If we can understand the behavior of our clients, we might see for example that a group of our customers have some things in common. Using personalized marketing, we can then offer them an interesting and, most importantly, relevant product. All of this leads to creating business models tailored to satisfy a target group of customers.​

If we should characterize today’s online world, we could say it is an environment based on data, testing and hypothesis verification. That is one of the principles of how the online world works. It’s no coincidence that the biggest global companies put such a great emphasis on data. However, even small and medium-sized companies can benefit from the art of data interpretation.​