Numbers and pretty charts and graphs.
If this is all our analytics embody, we are simply providing a heap of meaningless pulp. Website analytics reports should not be judged on their aesthetics nor their ability to regurgitate figures. They should answer questions, uncover potential pitfalls or opportunities, and guide our processes, campaigns and content to greener pastures.
However, there is a nasty and prevailing itch analytics professionals must continue to scratch: How can we convey actionable insights at every reporting interval?
One of the biggest challenges with any analytics project, new or repeat, is the ability to find something new and meaningful with each report. Sometimes the data can look the same from week to week or month to month. Knowing where to look and what questions to ask can be the key to culling valuable insights.
To help overcome this potential dilemma, I use a list of baseline questions. They assist me in the initial analysis of a website, and I refer to them often for recurring engagements as a way to show something new to my clients each time out.
When to Employ 52 Questions
- Initial Analysis – Provides a handy check list of items to observe and report with a one-time analysis.
- Ongoing Analysis – Allows us to go back to several questions at every reporting interval and continuously deliver sage understanding and valid recommendations.
While I recommend creating a custom list of questions for each client project (based on client goals, market and desired relationship with the audience), this list of 52 should serve as a universal baseline for most websites.
- A – From where (geographic) are visitors coming?
- 2 – Based on website behaviors, are certain places more important to us than others?
- 3 – What percentage of visitors use a mobile device to access the site?
- 4 – How does mobile traffic differ from tablet and desktop?
- 5 – What devices are visitors using?
- 6 – How has traffic from different devices changed over time? What is the trend in device usage?
- 7 – What browser do visitors prefer?
- 8 – Is our site compatible for the most common (all) browsers and screen resolutions?
- 9 – What is the likelihood a visitor will see our website just once?
- 10 – What percentage of visitors return?
- J – What is the average visit duration?
- Q – Are there pages or traffic sources that correlate to an extended visit?
- K – What are the most common visitor pathways or flows?
- A – What is the relative split between referral source categories (direct vs. search vs. referral vs. email, etc.)?
- 2 – Does one traffic source category dominate disproportionally?
- 3 – What percentage of traffic comes direct to the site, and how has that number been impacted by offline efforts?
- 4 – What is the trend for organic search traffic?
- 5 – What keywords have the greatest impact on conversions?
- 6 – What is the comparison between traffic from branded search and non-branded search (i.e. keywords that include our brand name)?
- 7 – What are the most important referral sources with respect to visits/traffic?
- 8 – Are there any referral sources that are exceptionally great or poor when evaluated by quality of visit (time on site, pages per visit, bounce rate)?
- 9 – Are all of our marketing campaigns tracking correctly?
- 10 – What impact have individual campaigns had on site traffic and conversions?
- J – What roles do social channels play in generating traffic and conversions?
- Q – What is the most common method for sharing website content?
- K – Does email play a significant role in driving traffic, and how can that be improved?
- A – Which pages are most popular among visitors?
- 2 – How has the visitor trend changed over time for key pages? Are they certain pages seeing their visits grow/decline?
- 3 – What pages have unusually high exit rates?
- 4 – What are the most popular landing pages?
- 5 – Which pages are performing well in organic/natural search? Are there pages that should be earning more traffic from organic search?
- 6 – Which landing pages are most successful in leading visitors to other content?
- 7 – What is the most common page that visitors will see after visiting the Home page and other important content?
- 8 – Are there pages crucial to the conversion process that are not garnering enough traffic or performing poorly?
- 9 – If tested, what pages have the potential to make a significant impact on conversions?
- 10 – What terms/keywords are used most often with site search?
- J – Is there an abundance of site search terms that are not well represented in site navigation or content?
- Q – What content is shared most often via social channels?
- K – Are there any issues with site speed? Does the site demonstrate slow/extended load times?
- A – Is the website tracking goals and conversions accurately?
- 2 – Are there specific sales-oriented website behaviors that should be monitored more closely?
- 3 – What is our site’s conversion rate (conversions / visitors)?
- 4 – Is there a significant difference in conversion rate between desktop and mobile/tablet visitors?
- 5 – What percentage of visitors abandon their shopping cart (or other conversion process)?
- 6 – Are their certain products or lead generation forms that have a consistently low conversion rate?
- 7 – How do conversions differ by referral source? What referral sources are most important to us with respect to conversion volume and value?
- 8 – What pages are present most often in the conversion funnel?
- 9 – What products deliver the highest revenue? conversion rate?
- 10 – What is our average order value? average order quantity?
- J – What are the most popular conversion paths by channel (e.g. Paid Search –> Email –> Direct –> Conversion)? Are there common channel pairings or combinations that often lead to conversions?
- Q – Are there channels that are more likely to provide assisted conversions?
- K – What is the average number of visits required before a visitor converts?
Do you have a similar process? What questions do you also include?