How to convert data into actionable insights

18th February 2015

Cartoon of charts being analysed

There is no reason why any website shouldn’t have a web analytics tool installed – especially since a tool like Google Analytics is available free of charge.  The data that it can provide is plentiful – almost exhaustive – and can give you amazing information such as visits, bounce rates and other metrics that can give you a good indication of what’s happening when users come to your site.

But in looking at all this data, it is important to ask yourself:

What should I do to turn this data into something that will impact my business’ bottom line?

After all, what’s the point in spending valuable time looking at data if you’re not going to pull insights from it that’ll make a business impact (whether it be revenue, enquiries/leads generated – whatever your website goal is).

Below are some points to ensure that your data can indeed make a tangible, measurable impact:

  1. Ensure what you’re measuring (and reporting on) on your website is closely aligned with business objectives – particularly if reporting to stakeholders.  There is no quicker way to lose buy-in if you analyse/report on metrics that stakeholders don’t care about.
  2. Set up conversion “goals” in your analytics platform – and monitor these closely.  A conversion is an action you want a visitor on your website to undertake (to purchase a product, to download a PDF file etc.) so it makes sense that it’s of high priority focus when analysing your business performance.  Secondary metrics that affect goals (such as visits, bounce rate etc.) can then be analysed to understand what is driving these goals.
  3. The value in analytics is around the insights, not necessarily the data.  And be sure not to confuse the two.  Data is what your analytics tool gives you, insights is how you change that data that has context and meaning.
  4. Further to the above, ensure insights pulled are actionable – turning the data into insights then into something actionable is where the value is realised!  A great insight that isn’t actionable will not contribute to the bottom line, so it will be of little or no tangible value.
  5. Measure your marketing activity with an ROI (Return on Investment) metric if you’re not doing so already – and compare it across digital channels to identify where you can get the greatest returns.  Marketing budgets are finite so make it work as hard as possible.
  6. Become data driven in your decision making – gut feel can be somewhat subjective.  Using objectivity found in data will solidify reasoning behind your choices and give you confidence when making decisions.
  7. Realise that data analytics platforms (such as Google Analytics) gives you quantitative data (‘What’) on how visitors are interacting on your site – but it doesn’t give you qualitative (‘Why’) data.  To get a holistic understanding, utilise heat map tools (such as Crazy Egg) to provide context into the data you’re getting.

We’ve heard about ‘data’ and ‘big data’ being the next big thing – in a way, it’s already here – but realise that data is not valuable unless it’s turned into actionable insights.  Turn this into a competitive advantage for your business and realise the true power of analytics.