Jesus take the wheel: the analytics edition
Whenever I think of anything to do with analytics, my brain immediately lets out a massive “urgh.” I can’t help it. It’s kind of like a reflex. Like resting bitch face or the need to get up and dance to a Carly Rae Jepson song, even though you hate her drunken Disney Princess voice. But whatever. Over the past two and a half years working at this digital agency, I’ve come to realise that I can’t avoid analytics forever, and my bosses are starting to see through my empty promises of sitting the Google Analytics exam “when the next round comes along.” So in an effort to stop lying to them (personal growth – go me!), I sat down with our Head of Analytics, Victoria Smith, to try and establish some kind of starting block for dumb dumbs like me. As a writer, I need to create content that’s engaging, relevant and interesting, and I also need to be able to monitor the performance of it in order to see what works and what doesn’t, just like Circus and Piece of Me worked for Britney, but Pretty Girls certainly didn’t. So I thought it would be as awful as listening to my sister sing nursery rhymes to her six month old son, but it wasn’t. Thankfully. Vicky just laughed at me and then told me some stuff.
Analtyics can help you improve or whatever
I hate it when you realise that something you hate can be useful. It’s like that time Geri Halliwell left the Spice Girls and I was so happy until I actually heard their first album as a four-piece. I just could not appreciate Forever in the same way as Spice and Spice World . Anyway, so apparently analytics can help you. Vicky said that there’s no point in working really hard on building a site or creating content or managing social pages if you don’t monitor their performance, which I suppose is true. Because once you know where something falters, you can focus all your energy on fixing it. Also, knowing more about your audience lets you devise a clear plan for how you can keep them happy.
All the definitions you need can be explained in terms of Cape Town’s dating scene
If you’re single in Cape Town, you know just how hard it is to find someone who has a job and isn’t paying their rent with dreams. You also know the power of Tinder in this city. So if you’re familiar with the dating struggle, you too can understand analytics. Just look:
Bounce rate: In the same way that you scroll past everyone whose Tinder bio says “aLwaYz uP4fuN tYms wiD my frEnZ”, bounce rates refer to site visitors who leave after being on just one page. A site with a high bounce rate is like that profile everyone swipes left on.
Click through rates (CTR): CTRs are like the Tinder dates you swipe right on. If a user sees something they like on a site, they’ll click on it to find out more. A high CTR is that suave, employed, ambitious gentleman who suggests dinner at the Mount Nelson and then walks you to your front door without expecting anything in return. HA! As if.
Impressions: There’s always that one stranger you see out in the club who tickles you fancy (not sorry about that typo). It’s happened to all of us. So essentially, this stranger makes an impression every time you see them. The same principle can be applied to website visits. An impression refers to the exact number of visits (impressions) a user makes to a specific website. So if that stranger makes eye contact with you and then looks away, but you catch him staring at you again, you have two impressions.
Conversions: This one is a little bit tricky. Are you like Xtina in the Dirrty days, or are you more Taylor Swift pre-Harry Styles? Some people argue that a conversion in dating is an actual, um, physical act between two parties, while others think a conversation means a request for a second date. Either way, in terms of analytics, a conversion is when a site visitor completes a desired act. For example, when they purchase or download something.
Engagement: Ah yes, the trauma flooding all of our social media feeds. I block all happy people from Facebook because I grew tired of the she-said-yes-now-we-must-definitely-look-at-the-ring-from-every-angle-lets-even-see-how-it-glistens-in-the-sun-and-then-show-everyone-online moments. Ja, whatever, I know engagements are happy times. They also mean good things for websites, as a high engagement rate means that your audience is interacting and responding to your campaign or website.
There’s not actually anything to be afraid of
For me, Google Analytics was a bit like watching The Others. Or any movie starring Nicole Kidman. It made me fluctuate between feeling petrified that it would eat my soul and feast on my blood, and feeling dead inside. Now I don’t want to end this off by telling you a Dr Phil-approved story of overcoming obstacles, but what I will say is this: there is nothing to be afraid of. It was designed to help you, not confuse you.
If you’ve found my ramblings in anyway helpful or amusing, look out for the next few. In an attempt to furter educate myself, I’m going to speak to a few more experts who are, to digital, what Simon Cowell is to talent shows. Who knows? Maybe next time there’ll be more pictures or even a video.
Written by: Toni van der Berg @toevdb