How to Avoid Falling Down the Web Analytics Rabbit Hole
Ever fall into a rabbit hole? Like Alice in Wonderland falls down a rabbit hole - “Used to refer to a bizarre, confusing, or nonsensical situation or environment, typically one from which it is difficult to extricate oneself.”
You’re a digital marketer - your campaigns are doing great according to AdWords. The conversion rates are through the roof, 35-40% of all visitors driven to your landing pages are converting into customers. That’s a great day!
Then you log in on Google Analytics, to ponder all things web analytics. You double checked to make sure that the conversions are close to what AdWords is reporting...wait a second! The conversions don’t match up! The numbers are almost exactly half of what AdWords is reporting.
Then you wonder, is it because we forgot to implement a separate code for cross domain tracking? Hmmm, how are we going to figure out which campaign is or isn’t driving the traffic to the landing page? The source traffic to the landing page can point to some answers.
Did we follow best practices by creating a separate page for each source type, to the best of our ability.
Normally in panic mode, the first thought (attempt at a fix) can lead to an endless rabbit hole as it might be the most complicated and least effective solution. It is at this time that you need to stop and think about the problem and the other potential answers.
Watch how trauma units or medical teams act in an emergency they triage their patients.
“Triage is the process of determining the priority of patients' treatments based on the severity of their condition.”
As a web analyst - you can learn from the triage experience by diagnosing a part of the problem – it will help indicate which direction to take the solution.
Always have a handy web analytics bible nearby. Attempt to fix problems with easy – quick solutions first, rather than harder and slow answers. It may still be the tougher ones that end up resolving the issue
Going back to our earlier story - we thought that the discrepancy in conversions of Google Analytics and AdWords was due to the cross domain tracking issue.
After nearly spending a day trying to assess if we needed to implement subdomain tracking or making backend changes within the Admin or finally reaching out to other vendors who were a part of the conversion flow. There still wasn’t a conclusive answer.
The solution turned out to be much more simple than our initial considerations – we came upon it after many goes at the problem, with more people than usual joining the conversation.
We eventually realized it was as simple fix - an analytics script was missing on a mobile landing page’s thank you page. You wonder, what gave it away?
It took another perspective, an insider’s perspective to segment traffic by mobile and desktop/tablet traffic to realize that the mobile landing page was missing the key script.
The answer was obvious – though it took the person implementing the code to find it rather than an outsider to figure it out. Sometimes all it takes is time and looking at a problem with a different take.
What we learned that day was that Google Analytics is an amazing tool. Our knowledge of the tool’s capabilities was not nearly as deep as we thought.
The tool offers insights, relevant data to our business and learnings that drive tremendous return on investment – though in those 3 days, we went down the veritable rabbit hole.