January seems long gone and with only two months till the new tax year, it’s time to analyse how your website performed in 2017 and plan this year’s improvements.
Where to start your website benchmarking?
The key to correct analysis and data benchmarking is translating your business objectives into digital metrics. Google Analytics offers extensive amount of information on who, when and how engaged with your site, but all of that data requires context, which is unique to your own company.
Here’s an example of how specific objectives can be matched with GA metrics:
With the objectives and metrics selected, you can move to the analysis of your website’s data.
Year-on-year website performance
As many businesses and websites are affected by seasonality, looking at full 12 months of data against a previous year is the best starting point. Using the data range selection in Google Analytics you can easily setup this annual comparison, and look how traffic location, source or device usage changed overall, while selecting specific metrics to look at from seasonal perspective:
This type of analysis gives you an immediate insight to what went well and what could be improved, as well as additional details to the locations/channels/devices which contributed to the drop or increase.
It’s worth to remember, that with the use of Secondary dimensions, you can breakdown the numbers even further, i.e. to compare specific Google Ads campaigns or landing pages.
Comparing your website against industry averages
Google Analytics can also give you an insight to how your website performs against similar ones through its Benchmarking reports. Those reports match your industry category and average daily traffic with other websites anonymously sharing their data with Google, to provide for a basic benchmark:
To get access to the benchmarking reports, you must share your data “Anonymously with Google and others”. This can be found under your Google Analytics account settings. Once active, simply select any of the Benchmarking reports from Audiences grouping.
It is worth noting that for business operating in smaller countries, the data can be less accurate, and more indicative. The best way of using it is to understand whether your industry peers, either locally or globally, utilise channels you haven’t explored. This could be email marketing or maybe online advertising, prompting you to expand your 2018 digital channel mix.
Introducing data cycles
The first review can always seem daunting – but big portion of the work goes into the foundation of your benchmarking, which means it won’t have to be done each year. As long as the direction of your business and its key objectives remain the same, it is worth putting the time upfront, to only focus on numbers that matter in the future.
For us and our clients, quarterly data cycles have proven to be extremely successful. They allow us to pick up on seasonal trends faster, make measurable changes throughout the year and provide additional insight to annual benchmarks.
If you’re unsure where to start or if you’re concerned your website tracking isn’t reliable or accurate – get in touch!