Crunching the Numbers: Analytics in Online Business
There is reality and then there is the dream world. If you read writers like Jorge Luis Borges, Lewis Carroll, Phillip K. Dick, they’d say that there isn’t much difference. Considering how great their work is and how successful their legacies have become, it’s not worth arguing. However, in online business, there is a bit of a difference.
You have to be realistic—hardcore, concrete, absolute—about a lot of things in online business. Particularly when it comes to examining how well your revenues are coming in, you need a solid understanding of real circumstances to ensure things are going well. If you are ignorant to the reality, you end up like the celebrity-turned-addict that wakes up one day in an alley, alone and with a drained bank account. Only then does reality hit you, and often it’s too late to do anything.
The good thing about online or digital business functions is you actually have this tool right at your disposal. It’s analytics, and as the title suggests, it is a way to analyze with hard data all aspects of your business, so you can see the actual success levels of your performance. Admittedly, it’s about as much fun as reading a corporate law amendment publication, but it does the job of getting a realistic picture of your business from the screen to your retina fast.
A lot of professionals claim—often due to their ignorance of digital formats—that analytics is impossible to do for all digital programs. But these days, there are analytics available for just about every program out there. If you are going pay-per-click (PPC) ad optimization or any sort of search engine optimization (SEO) involving PPC, you’ll find that most online media that do this—i.e., Google AdWords—have an analytics system built in that you can use immediately. Now, if you get into more structured programs like video SEO or some sort of more modern business tracking scheme, you might have to have an analytics program installed with your existing marketing campaign to ensure you can access their analytics results. The Internet and digital media can be complex, but they are far from impenetrable; whenever you start using a new digital or online business media, check you have immediate access to analytics wherever possible.
Once you’ve accessed the analytics, be sure to know what to look for. Most analytics are graph- or table-based; you’ll be able to see a Cartesian style chart showing how one of your online marketing programs is working over an axis of time. Like national statistics reports, analytics pages read like gathered information reports, showing how well things are going for your business. You can see if your PPC ad optimization work is actually, well, optimizing. You can look at how well your video SEO programs are doing by how many “hits” or clicks from clients they are getting. You can see which campaigns are succeeding and which are sinking. You don’t have to be a math expert to understand online analytics pages; most work in a fashion that is completely comprehensible to all viewers.
What is most important, though, is what you do with analytics information. There is no point in using analytics if you don’t get anything out of it for your business. In the end, you should go over each analytics report. Note where the trends are and at what points you are seeing sales jump or drop. Also note which campaigns work better than others. All of this information will help with future planning for more search engine marketing and will even help you control your search engine optimization costs. Analytics might not be fun to read, but they can certainly help you improve your business right to its core.
The truth can hurt once we see it, but in online and digital analytics, it can only improve your online business. By using in-your-face, stats-based programs, you can spot your errors and make the necessary improvements to your business thereafter. That’s reality working for you in the best possible way.
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