What is that web analytics for?

When buying a car, it’s perfectly normal besides basic equipment to have something more than a horn and an ashtray. You’d probably be surprised if you sat behind the wheel of a vehicle that doesn’t have a windshield, speedometer, or mirrors. Although we know that we need skill to drive, additional indicators in the car help us to make decisions while driving that will allow us to reach the finish line easier, more comfortably and without panic.

The free Google Analytics tool is used to monitor websites performance and in its purpose is similar to car dashboard with instruments. Knowing how to track and analyze the data that Google Analytics gives us is like driving a comfortable modern car. On a beautiful and sunny day, you will easily reach your destination, regardless of whether you are driving an old Golf 2 or a new Mercedes. But during bad weather it is safer to adjust your ride with the little help of the data we get from the control panel.

My friends often ask me why I constantly look at various data in my car as well as what do I look at “these web analytics, when a web store is not worth having it anyway”. How many times do I hear a comment like “why do I need all these various computers, when my Golf is already driving normally?”. For them I have prepared the following story.

Imagine, for example, that your boss sent you on a trip from London to Manchester or Liverpool. Imagine that we have two hypothetical situations (an A/B test):
– you drive a new Renault with various electronic aids
– a colleague drives a Golf 3, based on his feeling
It is a beautiful day and you set off north at the same time. The trip through the countryside was pleasant and you both arrived to the destination without any issues and at approximately the same time. However, as soon as you sit down for a pleasant drink by the seaside, the boss calls you and says that you need to return urgently because your client announced that he will come by your offices this evening due to an emergency meeting. OK, it’s time to head back as soon as possible because we don’t know what the weather will be like on our way back. The boss, of course, did not approve our budget for possible additional fuel (real and frequent situation in marketing).

As soon as you moved away from the sea, the weather got worse and it started to rain. You are now trying to get to the office on time with all that fog, rain and darkness. Let us now look again at two hypothetical situations:

  • In the old Golf, driving slowly becomes a problem, because the windows are fogged, you hardly see the road and you are not sure if you will get back to the office with the existing amount of fuel. Especially after you took a wrong turn twice due to road works. Also, the fuel gauge doesn’t work when it gets below half anyway, but you feel like you still have enough fuel. You also push the gas pedal hard, to get to your destination as soon as possible
  • With a newer car, you have a different situation, because you have various devices and indicators that help you drive the car safely. The air conditioning demists the windows, ESP helps you stay on the road, and if you know how to find the trip computer screen you can see how many more miles you can drive with the remaining amount of fuel (and the current driving style). With GPS navigation and information on traffic jams you know the shortest way to your destination when you run into road works (equivalent to changing your marketing strategy), and you can easily tell your boss the exact arrival time (deadline) and whether you have enough fuel (budget) to get to the office. It is very likely that on the way back, somewhere around Oxford, you will come across a Golf 3 standing on the side, because it ran out of fuel 🙂

Knowing how to look at the right numbers and manage them by changing your marketing strategy and tactics is the key to successful digital marketing! Similarly, looking at the right travel information is the key to safe and successful driving. If you know how to look at and understand the information given to you by the devices in the car, when your boss calls you and asks if you will arrive on time and with the available budget, you will probably say the following:

  • All OK boss, I am currently around Birmingham and I have about 100 miles to London. With this driving pace I have fuel for another 150 miles, which means I won’t need extra fuel (budget increase). According to a GPS estimate, I should be in the office around 6:45 p.m.
  • Super! Since I didn’t provide you a company credit card, it is important that you arrive with the same amount of fuel. The client will be here around 7pm, so your arrival time is quite OK. See you!

That sounds like a conversation between two co-workers who understand figures and charts well. But let’s hear what such a conversation sounds like in most marketing agencies called “digital”:

  • Where are you? What the situation is? What should I tell the client?
  • All OK boss. I drive 80 miles per hour, the outside temperature is 19 degrees, I’m listening to Rhianna on the radio.
  • Yeah, great, I’ll let them know. Good luck!

Let’s read the answers once again, I mean the figures and information most often send to the boss or client by the marketers:

  • I drive 80 per hour
  • the outside temperature is 19 degrees
  • Rhianna sings on the radio

Why do we emphasize such data? Not necessarily because we don’t know better, but this information seems understandable and sexy to us, and also clients understand it better than some complicated numbers out there. They are used to such figures in their cars and do not need further clarification.

I know some of you will say, “But do you know how much a used Golf 3 costs and how much an Audi Q5 costs?!? I don’t have that much budget, I will manage with what I have!” That’s fine, not everyone has the budget to deal with small details, but it’s not about the budget, it’s about the way you drive. Also, be aware that if you insist on implementing a marketing strategy in the way of driving a Golf 3 for years, do not tell others you’re driving an Audi or do digital / performance marketing, because you are just pretending to do digital and you look like a cool character from this legendary Indian ad for Peugeot 206:

Today, it is impossible to have successful web project if you don’t implement the appropriate analytical tools on them. As in driving, our goal is not just to look at the data on screen and say, for example, “Oh, I’ll run out of fuel!”, But to use that data to do some actions that will get the best outcome.

If you doubt my claims and think this is all a theory, take a look at what my highway ride looks like and feel free to count all the dials, gauges, figures and measurements. Yes, I know what are they here for and how to manage them 😉

A big thanks to Steen Rasmussen for unfolding this story well