7 Steps to Upgrade Your Organization's Analytics

09 Oct 2014, 4 min read.

There are lots of buzzwords in web analytics. Attribution and big data get a ton of attention, but there are several things you can do right away to upgrade your organization’s analytics abilities. The following seven steps can help your arts organization get the data you need to make better decisions about your digital marketing campaigns.

(1) Audit Your Implementation

The first step to upgrading your analytics is to ensure you are confident in the quality of your data. Arts organizations have more data than ever to inform decisions about their digital presence. It’s nearly impossible to get “perfect” data, but with a tag audit, you can ensure tracking code is properly placed throughout your website and your analytics platform is configured to deliver results you can count on.

There are a few tools available that can automate this process, most notably ObservePoint. One-time audits are a cost-effective way to verify your analytics implementation, and will bring your organization peace of mind when making meaningful decisions based on your data.

(2) Implement a Tag Management System

After you run a tag audit, you will hopefully verify everything is in working order. If that’s the case, you can skip a tag management system (TMS) for now, but keep it in your back pocket for later.

Using a TMS can help your marketing team effectively manage your analytics tags without requiring a developer to implement code for every change. Tag management systems let you control each of your analytics tools and marketing conversion tags in an online interface so you can manage your website tracking without writing any code.

A TMS will be especially helpful if your organization has errors in its current analytics implementation. Instead of spending the time to carefully correct site errors, install TMS like Google Tag Manager (GTM) or Adobe Dynamic Tag Management (DTM) to your analytics tool quickly and accurately.

(3) Upgrade to Universal Analytics

If you are using Google Analytics, now is the time to upgrade to Universal Analytics. Google launched Universal Analytics earlier this year, and also announced they will no longer be supporting legacy tracking libraries. If you want any of the latest Google Analytics features, you’ll need to upgrade your code. Using a tag management system, this can be as simple as the click of a button. If you don’t have a TMS, consider a JavaScript library such as Airlock to translate classic Google Analytics tags to Universal Analytics.

Universal Analytics has a number of exciting features such as linking multiple sessions across devices with a unique ID, a new measurement protocol to import offline data into Google Analytics, enhanced e-commerce reports to better analyze purchasing behavior and a whole new set of custom dimensions, metrics and configuration options. You’ll be glad you made the upgrade.

(4) Add Campaign Tags

Email marketing is critical for the arts, and every organization has an opportunity to optimize their email design and messaging to drive increased performance. Most email platforms will provide information about email open rates and click rates, but they tend to stop there. With campaign tracking, you can measure your email performance all the way to an on-site conversion and optimize accordingly. Placing these pesky UTM parameters on your email links may seem tedious, but most email providers have an automated way to generate campaign tags.

You can also use campaign tags for your other digital marketing efforts. Place these URL parameters on every paid search ad, banner ad or online promotion to measure performance. This will help you differentiate paid vs. organic traffic from each referring website and give you the ability to measure the return on your digital advertising investment.

(5) Configure E-Commerce Tracking

Whether you are selling tickets on your website or just taking donations, e-commerce tracking can help you understand the value of those transactions and directly measure the revenue associated with each of your marketing efforts. Google’s new Enhanced Ecommerce tracks all critical information about your patrons’ web transactions, but can also give you a detailed look at how users engage with your site and what the ticket buying lifecycle looks like. E-commerce tracking takes some advanced configuration to get the most out of the tool, but can produce some truly awesome data for your campaign analysis.

(6) Enable Demographics and Interests Reports

Configuring demographics and interests reports is a lot easier than e-commerce tracking, but can also produce some interesting data. These reports are Google’s DoubleClick data and can tell you more about the age, gender, interests and affinities of your users both for a specific date range or trended over time. Use these reports to better understand your patrons and evaluate which demographic and interest groups are most likely to take action online. The data may surprise you.

(7) Start Testing

Now, it’s time for some fun! You are confident about your data, tracking is in place, and it’s time to optimize. Even better, technology has made it possible to test virtually anything online. Test the effectiveness of your media buys by evaluating new channels, experimenting with new paid search ad copy or retargeting ad designs, and fine tune your website to enhance engagement, interactions, and conversions by optimizing every consumer touch point and experience.

Setting up a test on your website can sometimes be a time- and development-intensive process. Consider using a third party testing tool such as Optimizely to bring your tests to life instantly. After inserting a single line of code on your website, you can create and deploy the test without touching your website again.

Every arts organization is unique and digital marketing is far from one-size fits all. Upgrade your analytics data quality, and you can test and learn from everything you do online.

This article was originally published on Americans for the Arts on October 9, 2014.

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