Ryan Stewart: 6 Steps to Build A Web Analytics Measurement Plan

By Ryan Stewart, Webris.org.

Web Measurement Strategry

Quick survey:

What’s the most important aspect of digital marketing?

  1. Search engine optimization
  2. Content
  3. Paid traffic (PPC, display, etc)
  4. Email
  5. Lead capture

Trick question. The answer is NONE OF THE ABOVE.

The most important aspect of digital marketing is ANALYTICS.


Great data analysis improves your SEO, content, paid traffic, email, conversions and every other aspect of web marketing as well.

Your data doesn’t lie – by knowing what to collect and how to collect it, you have the fire power to make well informed decisions.

Notice what I emphasized in the previous sentence?

knowing what to collect and how to collect it

In order to make precise decisions, you need to clearly define what you want out of your data.

The best way to do so is with a web analytics measurement plan.

A web analytics measurement plan accomplishes the following for your business:

  1. Defines your company’s objectives; maps those objectives to goals, metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs)
  2. Defines what success looks like; gets buy in from top executives
  3. Provides direction and way ahead for your marketing strategy
  4. Lays the groundwork for proper JavaScript and HTML tagging on your website (for tracking data)
  5. Plans how you will sort through the data: what do we need and why?
  6. Assists in optimization and improvements

A measurement plan is step 1 in your overall analytics process:


Without a proper measurement plan, everything else fails.

This article is a step by step guide to creating a web analytics measurement strategy and plan.


Step One: Document Business Objectives

Why do you have a website?

No, seriously, why? I’ve run into clients whose objectives are so blurred they’re better off without one.

Some examples are:

  1. Sell my products
  2. Sell space for ad revenue
  3. Create a 1 to 1 relationship with my customers
  4. Provide a platform to use my software

Answering this question is the first step in getting a hold of your data. Once you have this defined you have an overarching objective that everything maps back to.

Every dollar that your business spends should drive towards achieving these objectives.

For our sample website:

“The purpose of our website is to increase total sales by allowing customers to buy our products online”.


Step Two: Create Goals / Strategies

Goals are what drive success of a given business objective. It completes the following sentence:

In order to increase our online sales, we must ….

Goals should be all of the following:

  1. Actionable
  2. Measurable
  3. Understandable

When structuring my goals, I always lead with a verb – this implies action.

For our sample site, here is how I completed the sentence:

In order to increase our online sales, we must ….

  1. [reach new customers]
  2. [increase repeat purchases]
  3. [grow our email list]

All 3 of the above are measurable goals that drive towards the overall business objective. Easy. Simple. Clean.


Step Three: Choose Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

KPIs are digital outcomes that help you gauge success against your goals.

There’s a lot of conjecture about picking KPIs – some analysts argue that basic metrics like visits, page views and time on site aren’t quality success metrics.


If you’re a website like BuzzFeed that generates revenue from selling ad space, you can bet they’re watching those metrics intently.

With that being said, don’t stop there. Dig deep into metrics that will easily gauge the success of your goals.

For our sample site, I chose the following KPIs for our goal “grow our email list”:

  1. Form abandonment rate. Assesses how many visitors begin the form but don’t finish it helps us optimize the form to maximize entries by determining sticking points for users.
  2. Cost per lead. The ultimate conversion metric. You can use this figure to scale the campaign or for attribution/ROI modeling.
  3. Welcome email bounce rate. This metric helps determine lead quality and whether or not you should change your opt in offer. If you have an enticing offer, you could be attracting a lot of opt ins from fake emails.

KPIs are the heartbeat of your website – choose ones that will easily help you measure the success of your goals.


Step Four: Set Targets/Benchmarks

You got 2 million new email addresses from your lead generation campaign. That’s amazing! Wait, that’s amazing right?

Targets (or benchmarks) put your website’s goals into perspective. They are a numeric value that force you to measure the success of your goals.

You should use your company’s historical data to choose targets. If no such data exists, use industry benchmark data (a simple Google search will help you track down the data).

For our sample site, I chose benchmarks based on industry standards:

  1. Form abandonment rate > 10%
  2. Cost per lead < $5.00
  3. Welcome email bounce rate < 5%


Step Five: Determine Reporting and Segments

When the time comes to report out on your efforts the amount of data is staggering. Spending hours digging through reports is not a wise use of your time. That’s why I include reporting and segmentation in my plans – it saves time, headaches and let’s you focus on making the right analysis. Segmentation is a science in itself – for the purpose of this post I will keep it short. Define segments that help you uncover additional insights and causation. Cost per lead is a great KPI – Cost per lead segmented by traffic source is even better.

For our sample site, I chose the following segments for my KPIs:

  1. Traffic source
  2. Ad group
  3. Email subject line

NOTE: The report I chose is an Adobe Analytics / SiteCatalyst / Omniture report – this report is not available in Google Analytics.


 Step Six: Analyze, Adjust and Improve

Don’t forget this part!

The whole point of analytics is to make data driven decisions that will propel your business forward.

Now, go forth and analyze!


This article originally appeared at Webris.org. Reposted with permission.

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