A lot of people are over-relying on Google Analytics, however it is more of a balance issue; getting the balance right between qualitative and quantitative data in your research process. For example, GA might expose an issue that you investigate further through usability testing, or a survey might form a picture that can be verified by looking at a GA report.
What is fundamental though is ensuring your account is set up correctly, and producing accurate data. Since GA is so important to identifying where to focus your optimisation efforts, and showing you how visitors behave on your website, its accuracy is key.
Our experience and the experience of others involved in CRO and analytics, including people such as Craig Sullivan, is that between 85 and 90% of GA accounts are incorrectly set up.
Important business and investment decisions are going to be based on this data, and if it’s set up incorrectly you could be optimising areas of the site that are relatively unimportant while not even seeing the larger opportunities.
At a broader level, poor configuration and inaccurate data results in this bad data flowing upwards. If the collection is poor, the metrics are inaccurate, the reports are flawed and the dashboards you use to run the business could be meaningless.
Some of this is really simple stuff, for example, you have forgotten to exclude people who are looking at your website from the office.
If your revenue reporting is out, it could be you are under-reporting your sales, over-reporting, double counting transactions, leaving out shipping and tax revenues.
Alternatively your website is recording visits from bots. We know of one travel company, who had 200,000 visitors and 35% of their traffic was actually from an own in-house bot used for testing the website.
Now imagine you are trying to track the ROI on your marketing spend – is it likely that you are going to come to the wrong conclusion? Yes, highly likely.
Google Analytics is like someone gifting you a free dashboard for your car. You would still need to wire it up and check it works before you can drive safely.
What if the fuel was out by 25%?
What if the speedo showed the wrong value?
To quote Craig Sullivan “Don’t blame Google Analytics if you aren’t seeing the right data. If you think free and unconfigured tools are responsible for data quality within an organisation, you’re doomed.”
If you are concerned about whether your GA is set up correctly (and you should be, unless you know you are in the 5% who have a beautiful set up) check our calculator here to find out.
This is mistake number three in a series of seven posts, outlining the mistakes that almost everyone makes in conversion optimisation. Keep an eye out for the remaining four mistakes over the next few months.
Read our ebook below to learn seven different ways you can use Google Analytics to increase website conversion and online revenues.
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