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Analytics Is Hard, Let’s Go Shopping

June 15, 2018
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Data … so hated, and so loved by others. In my case, I love data, since it gives validity to my arguments, and I can make a case with actual evidence that supports what I want to prove. Part of my work at Diamond + Branch is to report how successful our clients are on their different platforms, whether on social networks or on their website. The hardest part? Explaining my work: What it is, how I do it, and why I do it. Today I’m going to explain some of the tools that I use the most in my day to day with our different clients, but I’m going to do it in a non-technical way!

There are plenty of tools out there that can shed light on how users interact with our website, but today I’ll only go over three free tools provided by our good old friend Google. Why Google,? you might ask. Well, because according to recent studies, 91% of internet searches are performed in Google, and that seems like a good reason why we should pay attention to the data that Google provides us.

Since my intention is to keep things non-technical, I’m not going to talk about a website, code, algorithms, or anything related to technology, we’re going to do it the old fashioned way, using examples of information, and data that we can find in a regular brick-and-mortar retail store. A retail store doesn’t just open the doors hoping that people know automatically they exist and walk in to buy goods, we, of course, want people to know that we exist, we want to be in control of how they can learn about us, and that we exist so that they consider walking into our store, check out our products, and we can show them that we have the best quality products so that we can convert them into a purchasing client.

“Welcome to our store!”

Once we are ready to open our store, we want people to know that we exist, of course, there are ways that we can pay to spread the news about our amazing store. We can print flyers, pay for a radio ad, a newspaper ad, or a billboard. However, in this case, we’re actually talking about the ways in which people learn about our shop by their own means, either by searching or by asking someone for a reference. If our intention is to position our store as a ‘trendy clothing store’, then we have to make sure that our products are trendy, our decoration is trendy, and that the way we talk to our customers makes them feel that we are a trendy clothing store.

“How did you hear about us?”

The first thing we want to learn about is how people heard about our store. What kind of searches does a person do to find us? What kind of questions do they ask? And how many times does a person that gets referred to us actually visit our store?

In our store example, the questions will be asked to real people, and they will be referring us so that later on the person that asked the question will go visit our store. However, in a real digital world example, the friend to whom we ask the question is Google, and Google will be the one referring to our website (store) based on how they understand what our website does.

This information about the referrals and the actual number of store visits we learn from a tool called Google Search Console. This tool gives us information about the type of searches performed by users in which our website was shown as one of the results in Google. It also tells us how many clicks our pages received on these results, and in what position they appeared. All this to know if our website is reaching the people we want to reach, and if these people are showing interest in visiting us, as well as to verify that our friend (Google) is actually understanding what type of website we have, and what we do.

“Did you find what you were looking for?”

Now that we know how people are finding out about our store, we want to know how many people come to our store, who recommended them, and which recommendations work best. One way in which we can accomplish this is by having a questionnaire for everyone that walks in our store, in which we ask about their age, and how they found out about our existence.

The results of the questionnaire will tell us the number of people that walked in, how they heard about us, their age, and we can learn which age groups, and which type of referrals are bringing more interested people to our store.

Information like this can be found in Google Analytics, which allows us to know how users came to our website, maybe by performing a Google search, maybe through an ad, or from our Facebook page, etc. We can learn where they visited us from, the average time of their visit, and which device they used to visit us (a computer, their mobile phone, or maybe a tablet). Google Analytics is a great tool that allows us to learn about our marketing efforts, to get to know our visitors and to learn what’s working better from all of the different marketing efforts that we’re doing.

Set the mood, change the music, make shopping a great experience! (AND report on what worked best)

Finally, since we already know how to track how people learn about our store, what kind of person is more interested in our store, and who sent them, we can do experiments to find out what kind of things work best to increase our sales. We can put a rack of products near the cash register, or we change the type of lighting, play music of different genres, or at different volume settings, all these things to know if we can bump up our sales. We would need to include in our inventory and sales report the location of the product in our store, what music genre was playing, what type of lightning the section where the products were sold, etc, to be able to understand what is working better.

In our real digital world, we use a tool called Google Tag Manager to learn such specific information. This tool allows us to learn things that we can not learn with Google Analytics or Google Search Console We can know, for example, which button on a specific page receives more clicks, and measure if our visitors to a page are scrolling all the way to the bottom of a page or only half of it. We can also create tracking to learn if a form we have on a page is being used.

With Google Tag Manager the things that we can measure are unlimited since we have to create custom tracking, we can measure anything that comes to mind. However, this tool is more advanced and because it’s more advanced it does requires its users to have at least a basic knowledge of code (HTML, CSS, Javascript) to be able to configure the tool so that we can learn how our pages, buttons, forms, etc, are being used.

“Thank you for your visit, please come back soon!”

I hope I have achieved my goal in explaining what these tracking tools do in a non-technical way, with the help of our easy to understand trendy clothing store example. Understanding what these tools do, how much we benefit from using them, and the key role they play in helping us make well informed and data-driven decisions, then we will all win!