The whole reason behind pulling analytics for a website, social media profile or stock market is to be able to understand what the hell is happening over time. Ideally, we’d be able to quickly see trends and patterns of information. Those patterns from data collected by analytics trackers can be very important to making decisions. Then, you should be able to do some predicting (like Kayak’s price forecasting feature).
But should you always default to just one analytics tracker?
In the social technology world, most tools come with some level of analytics and reporting. You can get Facebook Insights and a WordPress Jetpack. Do you take the next step and add Google Analytics? Do you add another tracker, like Quantcast?
Getting interaction data from multiple sites can give you a clearer picture. When results are similar, you can make a data-supported decision. If the results contradict each other, you get to spend a little time questioning the difference. You could find some interesting stuff when you dig deeper.
If you like the idea of using a multifaceted analytics strategy, here are four steps to get you started:
- Determine what answers you’re looking for. Getting surface-level information, like Followers or Likes, can be a first step, but today that’s not enough. If a company is going to spend money on a strategy, make sure you can offer answers to questions others will be asking you. Also, find a solution that helps you measure how you’re making progress on your goals.
- Make sure your tools measure what you’re looking for at the level of detail you need. For example, can you isolate the data by date? Or are you just given 30/90/100-day ranges? This could take some trial and error if you’re still figuring out what answers are going to be important to you. Using a free trial can give you wiggle room to determine which software works for you.
- Know your reporting schedule. Some people look at high-level stats each day and others need comprehensive weekly reports. If you're sharing information with executives or other team members, determine the reporting schedule and level of detail you need to report your findings. Also, make sure you sit with the data for a little while before forming conclusions. A second look a couple of days later might show something new.
- Compare and contrast. As you get used to pulling reports from different sites, you should start seeing where discrepancies are regular occurrences. You will also start noticing correlations that might help you see how a change in content strategy affected followers or how a big company announcement affected stock price. Using multiple trackers should let you start seeing relationships.
It all boils down to this: Clarity into data relationships helps you predict results. If you’re relying on only part of the information, then your predictions will always be way off. Add a couple of other ways to measure the data that’s important to you or your company. It might take some extra work, but the decisions you make will keep you on track with your goals and the outcomes you want to achieve.
Photo: Big Data (Credit: JD Hancock)