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Understanding web analytics integrations: laying a foundation

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Web analytics are key to understanding when PR and comms efforts lead to conversions on brand websites. A 2017 survey by Forrester Research identified that 78% of U.S. consumers made their most recent internet purchase via computers and web browsers. Web usage is central to daily life, and not only for e-commerce: from traffic to revenue, web analytics provide a clearer picture of how audiences and consumers engage with websites, and prove ROI.

Web analytics can include various metrics to show activities a consumer or user completes on your website – everything from signing up for a webinar to downloading a tip sheet. This user engagement data paints a clearer picture of specific behavior and helps you identify when a desired outcome is achieved through web interaction.

Importance of web analytics to PR

Measuring website data provides insight to create a better user experience. Web analytics detail the most popular lanes or paths within a website, which actions lead to a purchase, where users spend the most or least time, and what users do when visiting a site.

Web analytics metrics don’t include personally identifiable information, such as names, birth dates, or phone numbers. Instead, analytics focus on interaction to show how users are engaging, rather than who is engaging.

Data points can be used to improve website flow, access, or ease of use, but they can also be used to tell a comms team when an ongoing campaign is showing results on their website. These metrics tell where and how campaigns led users to take actions, specifically how the campaigns steered traffic to the brand’s website and drove engagement. Metrics accurately track the effectiveness of those campaigns, informing future efforts.

How to get going on a web analytics strategy

The first step is to set up either Google or Adobe Analytics on brand websites. Each provider comes with its own set of options for implementation (for the tech-savvy, for example: Dynamic Tag Management vs. JavaScript or Analytics SDKs for Adobe) and adjusted price tag. Google Analytics is free, but can be upgraded to Google Analytics 360, an enterprise-level product with more support, expanded data limits, and additional options that comes at a cost (see Standard versus 360). Web tracking codes are established via these analytics platforms to track everything from outbound links to e-commerce and content groups.

Segmentation (subset) options for the data are extensive through use of various filters and isolate groups of users, sessions, and hits. These segments can be further defined to show a range of data points; they can be utilized to display information such as engaged traffic or reports on the day (and hour) where your site is most visited, and how users interact.

While there are endless segmentation and filtering options, there are key use-cases for comms. Understanding web traffic and conversions is becoming a standard value demonstrator in place of lightweight metrics such as traditional reach stats because they return hard results on user interaction, regardless of industry. While other earned media measurement methods differ across industry and even company, time spent on a page and pageviews give solid confirmation of actual engagement that isn’t available via metrics such as brand awareness and sentiment.

Integration with Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics enables comms teams to make ROI evaluations by tying metric returns on websites to campaigns, or various points therein. In turn, this better informs their earned media strategy and drives more business as user-activity highlights success benchmarks set in place.

This isn’t a new strategy, The Institute of PR was producing studies on the studies on the usage of web analytics tied to earned media almost a decade ago, but the applications are evergreen in the current data-intensive measurement landscape: Discover traditional and social media sites driving traffic to brand websites; Understand the types of sites — from newspapers online to blogs, and more – that are driving engagement and visitors; and define conversion rates for earned media (unpaid) vs. paid and owned.

Cision Comms Cloud starts users off on the right foot, filtering web analytics data through monitoring tools, alleviating the sorting, segmenting and filtering that would be necessary to understand types of sites (traditional vs. blog) and content (national or regional news) driving engagement. More importantly, Comms Cloud is only pulling through earned media data, and screens out paid and owned-related traffic.

With the data points pulled from Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics, PR and comms professionals can maximize their Comms Cloud experience based on direct data points from these integrations with the values currently available for segmentation within the platform.


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