1. Align what you measure to your business objectives
Think about the alignment of three elements:
Site goals are really the first level drill down of the business goal. They could include something like: increase sales in each market by 25%.
The segment based KPIs are the key metrics that will be used to determine how well your business is meeting its site goals. For example: average order size and conversion rate from paid advertising in the USA.
By aligning business objectives, site goals and measuring with KPIs that tie into these goals, you will always have a clear idea of how well your site is performing.
2. Setup your analytics implementation to measure properly
Tag everything on your site. While tagging each page so that it appears in your data seems logical, remember to also tag everything that does not act like a page - file downloads, reader comments, interactions with Flash objects. Remember, your KPIs are going to be affected by everything on your site.
Tag everything you control coming into your site - your ad campaigns, social media promotion, blogs, email campaigns so that you know where your visitors are coming from, how much they cost, and how well each of them is contributing to your site goals.
Remove the noise. Make sure to filter out any noise from your visitor data like your internal office traffic or your site developer who may be running tests. Keep it clean!
Start off by defining segments - traffic sources are a good starting point as are visitor types such as new visitor and returning visitors. But, go beyond these segments and look for site interactions and behaviors that go beyond the obvious. For example: are visitors who perform certain action on the site such as downloading a brochure a distinct segment with characteristics that differ from other segments visitors.
4. Develop real insight from your analysis
Channel effectiveness – which visitors contribute profitably to site goals and which visitors are not profitable
Content effectiveness – what site content is compelling and contributes to site goals
Process effectiveness – how effective are on site processes in driving site goals
Then... develop hypothesis around what needs to be tested to improve areas that are less effective. If you know that your checkout process has an abandonment rate of 75% at the initial step, perhaps you should ask yourself whether obliging visitors to create an account is really needed or can they just use a guest checkout process.
5. Test, improve and remeasure
Take the hypotheses you developed from your insights and implement them in a test and learn environment and compare your results to original performance. If you have improved, implement the changes on a broader scale.
6. Embed web analytics in your company's website business
Unless web analytics becomes a part of your everyday web business with resources dedicated to the process, you will constantly be playing catchup - never knowing how well your site is performing, why it is performing the way it does or how to improve it.