Freaky Analytics

Last Saturday night, my cousin came over to my and D’s place for pizza dinner. While waiting for pizza delivery, we flicked around in Netflix, looking at the variety of series and movies. Of course, there was a “Horror” category and my cousin casually mentioned that one of the films wasn’t THAT scary, acceptable to digest food concurrently. All I could think was how pizza would feel in my first starving and then totally clenched stomach muscles and I said “Please, I can’t do a scary movie.” To add to the vibe, D exaggerated a evil laugh and I announced that I unilaterally voted that we were watching “How I Met Your Mother”.

I find horror films not dinner friendly (I even get nightmares sometimes) and I get the sense that many entrepreneurs feel the same way about their Web Analytics tool. I'd even go far as to the say, the words "Web Analytics" already send some in a half dead, half zombie mode.


When you open up Google Analytics for example, there seem to be 10 million reports, with another 5 thousand filtering options, and just way too many numbers that don't have any obvious meanings. Also, everything is in ‘analytics’ language and it isn’t clear what you should be focusing on.


So, where do you start? And what parts are really important to you? My first recommendations is to get out of the tool. Actually, take the below questions with you on a sheet of paper and step away from the computer for a moment.


  • What areas of your site do you consider most important?

  • Which content do you want users to get to?

  • Is there a particular area or specific content that you are thinking of taking out? Or maybe something new you are thinking of bringing in?

  • What are other platforms users might be coming to you on? Are you paying for any of these?


And, most important of all...

  • What do you want users to DO on your site?


Once you answer these questions, you will be able to start to pinpoint what reports in analytics will be most helpful for you. So, on that same paper that has the answers to those questions, list out the reports and metrics that could possibly answer those questions (read this post for more information on how to do this).


Instead of getting lost in the sea of reporting, just focus on the few reports that you really find meaningful to your site and business goals.


There. That wasn’t as scary as you thought, right? I’m still sticking to my no-horror-movies at night time rule, although I’ve ventured into a new alien killing video game that used to be nerve racking. The truth is, everything that is foreign to us the first time around is usually scary, until we get used to it. It’s all about building a relationship with these fears, instead of avoiding. So go ahead, and spend some time with your web analytics tool. It won't bite!