The F-35 is a jet plane that Lockheed Martin once called ‘a flying computer.’
It can do everything that you’d ask of a fighter jet. It has too many amazing capabilities to count. But, if you put most people in the cockpit and asked them to put those capabilities to use… there would be plenty of blank stares and possibly a wrong-button-catastrophe.
Sitting someone down in front of a Google Analytics dashboard can look similar. Analytics, in any program, can be an incredibly powerful tool. You can change the course of your business for the better – if you can figure out what you’re looking at. It’s a familiar frustration for many: knowing you have endless data at your fingertips, but drowning in a whirlpool of numbers and buzzwords before you can take advantage.
Sometimes, it can be enough to say ‘forget it’ and rely, instead, on experience or anecdotes or gut-feelings to make important decisions.
It’s not that those factors have no place (they do), but analytics offer a new and evolving means of understanding your intended audience/prospective customers. Data can simply tell you things nothing else can.
Plus, if the numbers refuse to stop swimming around, there are resources who can help analyze your site’s data, summarize what it says about your business, and what actions you should take.
Here are three things that can help you make better decisions for your business with analytics:
Analytics can be the ultimate tiebreaker in a difference of opinion. Personal experience colors how we view things and it can lead to biases that are hard to self-identify. When reasonable minds disagree, data can be the impartial mediator. By taking subjective measures out of the decision-making process, you’re acting on neutral and reliable information that all parties should agree upon. While even data is left to some interpretation, it’s a hard-evidence-driven way of steering your enterprise. Having data to back up decisions makes them defensible – even if it doesn’t always work out.
Before analytics took hold, it was harder to tell what worked and what didn’t on your site. Let’s pretend you have an Etsy store. You sell sock puppets and macaroni portraits of the 1997 Seattle Supersonics. You spend about 20 hours per week on each. Without analytics, you’d assume your audience is equally interested in both. With analytics, you can see that no one’s even looked at a sock puppet. But, nearly everyone peruses your macaroni art – staying on the page, clicking descriptions, and even hitting ‘add to cart.’ What does that mean for your work week? It means you can confidently stop sewing button eyes onto socks and ramp up gluing pasta to canvas in the likeness of Shawn Kemp.
3. Long-term Insights
The best part about analytics? It keeps building upon itself. Month-to-month, you’ll see the business and decision-making benefits of knowing what your site’s data says. Long-term, you’ll continue to see more complex trends emerge and you’ll be able to build strategies that act upon those patterns. Analytics can change how you view your own business and that’s a powerful concept. It’s already blasted through several conventions and often tags along with words like ‘revolution.’
Don’t be left behind, making decisions that are demonstrably misguided once the raw data comes to light. Analytics can help you make better decisions about your business. If breaking down the numbers into understandable parts is holding you back, reach out to people that are dedicated to identifying important trends and developing plans to match.
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