And while I knew it would be helpful to address the mistakes people commonly make during their analysis, I realized that list left out the things that you can mess up before your analysis even begins. I'm not talking about how you analyze your information, but rather how your marketing software gathers the data in the first place.
In order to properly collect data, there are certain things that you need to set up a certain way. Some of these considerations are specific to your company, and can skew your data if you forget to do them (or do them wrong). Others involve how you set up your software to gather data in the first place, and can have equally as frustrating consequences if done incorrectly.
Check these things off your list, and you are home free. Forget to do them, and you're stuck with incorrect data (and a headache).
To help you avoid a big miss, I've compiled a list of little things to look for before you dive into your next analysis.
10 Things to Double-Check Before You Begin Your Next Campaign Analysis
1) Do you have the right domain selected?
You may have multiple domains that you need to track throughout the month. Maybe you have one for your main website, one for your blog, and another for your landing pages. No matter how your domains are set up, it is important to make sure that you are reporting on the right one.
If you are an international company, you may have domains for different countries or languages. When you do your reporting, it can be difficult to keep track of which domain has which goal. To make sure your goals and results are aligning, pay close attention to which domain you select each time.
2) Do you have the right time period selected?
After you have the right domain selected, you should also make sure the right time period is selected. While it's a natural instinct just to report on what appears on the dashboard without checking the time, that could easily lead to careless mistakes.
For example, many of us do end of the month reporting on the first day of the next month. At that point your reports have probably shifted from the previous month to the current month. With that said, you'll want to make sure that you adjust the time range to reflect the previous month that you want to report on. (This rule applies to end of the week reporting too.)
Additionally, if you are comparing this month's progress to the previous month, make sure that the accurate month is reflected before you begin your analysis.
3) Do you need to exclude certain sources?
If you own a specific channel of marketing -- such as paid or email marketing -- you may only want to report on one source instead of all of your sources as a whole. (At HubSpot, the different marketing channels we use to execute our marketing campaigns are known as Sources.) When sources are all presented one page, it can be easy to mistake the numbers from one channel with the numbers from another. To avoid any confusion, I suggest filtering your sources to hone in on one specific channel at a time.
4) Have you excluded your company’s IP?
It's considered a best practice to regularly monitor how much traffic you get to the pages on your site. And while you certainly want this number to be high, you don't want it to reflect the page views that come from your colleagues and employees, as this will skew your data.
For example, imagine that you have 10 employees at your business, and each of them looks at different pages on your website an average of five times a day. That means that they are contributing an additional 50 views a day, 350 views a week, and up to 1,500 views a month. That data can completely change your progress toward your monthly goals.
5) Are you tracking visitors who aren't in your target geography?
Not every business can market to every country in the world. This means that you need to pay close attention to the visitors who are in your target geography.
Let's say your target geography is North America, and you are getting 1,000 visits a month to your website from North America. However, you also find that you are getting another 1,000 visits a month to your website from Europe. If you are reporting your visits as 2,000 instead of 1,000, you are going to skew your data because you can only work with and nurture the people from North America.
To ensure that you're reporting on the right audience, take a close look at the IP of all people coming to your website. You can then start to segment based on people who are in your target geography to avoid spending time and resources on those who are not.
6) Are you using UTM parameters to tag certain promotions?
When you run any marketing campaign, it is important to track how every single person is interacting with your marketing -- even if the interaction occurs outside of your website. For example, let's say that you are running a promotion on Facebook and Twitter to drive traffic to your website. Some tools may automatically bucket that as social media, leaving you with no indication of which social platform generated more traffic.
Enter UTM parameters.
In this situation, UTM parameters would serve as tags that allow you to differentiate the traffic generated between the two sources.
If you are a HubSpot customer, you can use the Tracking URL Builder to achieve this. The Tracking URL Builder will walk you through exactly what information you need in your UTM parameters to ensure you are not making a mistake when creating yours. It will also let you know where your information will be bucketed in the Sources Report.
If you are not a HubSpot customer, Google offers a similar tool that you can use.
7) Did you forget to put necessary tracking code on your site?
Before you start placing links to your website anywhere, you need to make sure you have the proper tracking code installed on your website. This will ensure that you are tracking traffic coming to your site, gathering proper lead intelligence about visitors coming to your website, and turning up insight to help you improve the amount of traffic you get to your website.
Depending on where you host your site, you may not have to worry about this step. For example, if your website is hosted on the HubSpot Marketing Platform, you will automatically have the proper tracking code on all of your pages. However, if your website is hosted elsewhere, you will need to put tracking code on your pages. Here is more information on how to install tracking code.
If you have been working on marketing campaigns that drive traffic to your site and do not see an increase in traffic, that may be a good indication that you do not have your tracking code set up properly. Without this information, it will be really hard -- if not impossible -- to segment your database to deliver more personalized marketing experiences.
8) Do you have a plan for tracking an offline campaign?
It may seem hard to track an offline campaign -- how are you supposed to know how many people came to your trade show booth?
As a result, we sometimes just bucket this into the "other" campaign and think very little about how to track it. However, without knowing how many leads and customers we generate from these offline campaigns, it becomes difficult to allocate resources appropriately.
The next time you are about to do a trade show, consider making a plan for how you can track people coming to your website. This can be as simple as putting a tracking URL on all of the resources you hand out instead of just using your regular homepage URL. That way whenever anyone visits your site, it will be attributed to the trade show. (For more on how to do this, refer back to #6 on this list.)
9) Do you have a clear understanding of what your metrics mean?
Before you even begin to do your analysis, you need to decide which metrics you want to report on. Furthermore, you need to decide what the metrics actually mean and how to interpret them. Many times we report on metrics that we think represent success, however it's possible that they might mean something entirely different.
For example, Google Analytics will report on the time someone spends on your website. And while we often equate a long visit to an interested visitor, this isn't always the case. Although you'd like to believe that someone who has clicked around on several of your pages is liking what they're seeing, it could also mean that they are struggling to find what they are looking for.
As you analyze your metrics, dig deeper to understand what they mean. It may not always be what it seems at first glance.
10) Did you attach tracking code to all the proper assets?
One of the hardest things for marketers to remember is to put your tracking assets in place before your marketing campaign launches. This may include -- but is not limited to -- creating tracking URLs, putting them across the different platforms, or tagging your pieces of content.
If these tasks aren't done ahead of time, you could lose some of your analytics forever. For example, if you plan on using a tracking URL on your Facebook post but forget, you will miss out on all the clicks that your visitors took to get from Facebook to your site. If you edit the post and add it in, you will be able to get some of that back, but you will still not have everyone.
Moral of the story?
Before you publish all of your assets, check (and double-check) to make sure you have everything in place.
What else do you need to remember to avoid an analytics mistake? Let us know your best tips in the comment section below.
Originally published Jul 6, 2015 6:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017