Should we just drop Google Analytics?
Conventional tools provide great insight into traffic. But, if you want a clearer understanding of how and why visitors are using a website the way they do, and what to do to reach your business goals, you can’t avoid using content analysis tools.
The conventional tools
Everyone who works professionally with websites knows conventional web analytics tools like Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics, and the type of data these tools can provide.
Content Analytics, on the other hand, is a new field of web analysis, and therefore the results that can be achieved with this approach are not yet widely known.
The question is what to choose and why? The short conclusion is that individually conventional analytics tools are not sufficient because they provide an incomplete analysis of how visitors use your site.
You already know Google Analytics, Webtrends and Adobe Analytics. These tools can give you an insight into three different areas:
Technical optimisation of your website – what platforms to support, performance, etc.
Gain insight into traffic creation on your website – collection of traffic data for the site, including geography, retrievers, reference sources (search engines, social media, etc.). Knowing this allows optimization of online marketing campaigns, for example.
Gain insight into the flow of your website – insight into the use of the site, including traffic patterns, use of navigation elements, banner clicks, etc.
The telco example
This approach is the great strength of the model, but also its greatest challenge. It’s true that there are a number of requirements that are common no matter who you are. But, it’s equally true that you might make the biggest difference, where your visitors’ behaviour differs from the norm.
An example could be two telecommunications companies with different business models. One goes for younger customers under 30, and the other company goes after established families. Their products will be designed for different customer needs, and the two customer types also have very different online behaviour. For example, there will be a big difference in how often they visit the telecommunications companies’ websites, what online services they use, and how they expect the companies to behave online.
It’s obvious, from an online perspective, that their customers are not the same and that customers are expected to have very different online behaviour. There will be different patterns and trends in the way the young customers and family customers use the sites. Conventional tools don’t quite manage to capture these dimensions, because they’re built as a rule-based system that meets the needs of the largest user groups.
You are missing out
This means you’re missing out on insights into visitor behaviour with business value if you base your online analysis on the results of conventional web analytics tools. They are just not sufficient.
Content analysis tools
Content analysis tools are based on a completely different methodology than conventional, experience-based web analytics tools. The basic idea here is to identify the strongest patterns in a data set, as these will reveal what visitors are most interested in.
It’s fundamentally different from an experience-based approach, where the system is built around expert knowledge and its expectations of how the world looks.
An extension of the example of the telecommunications company explains the difference between the two approaches.
Using an experience-based tool, you might see that there are differences in which devices visitors use to access your site, and you will be able to see which pages they spend most time on.
Because the two telecommunications companies already have different customer segments, it will be natural to see differences in the two populations. But, the two companies will roughly use the same tools in their own way.
Content Analysis is the stronger approach
Neither of the two companies will be able to use conventional tools to understand why their customers behave the way they do, as the tools alone describe the users’ world. This is why Content Analysis is the stronger approach. Many parameters are monitored in the behaviour of visitors on site, and the tool searches for the most significant patterns to understand the behaviour of visitors.
Photos as the best way to promote your business objectives
Referring to our example, it means that the company with the young customers may see using lots of photos and easy explanatory texts as the best way to promote the business objective of getting website visitors to fill out a contact form. This is contrary to the more established visitors in the second telecommunications company, where it may be better to prioritise longer and more factual texts.
The Content Analytics model
The content analysis model is open to patterns and their significance changes over time. Depending on which customer group is in focus and what the desired goal is, patterns will also change.
The use of the content analysis model also means that, as a website owner, you’ll have eye-opening experiences, because the method will be able to identify patterns that may not make sense at first. For example, if customers who download a product description first clicked on photos of the company’s management. Two areas without apparent logical connection, but through identification of the pattern you gain awareness of it.
This gives rise to reflection on the content and structure of the site, which otherwise probably wouldn’t have been on your mind.
Both models have their strengths
Conventional tools provide great insight into traffic and use of the site based on quantitative considerations, and you cannot run a professional website without referring to the insight that these tools provide.
But, if you want a clearer understanding of how and why visitors are using a website the way they do, and what to do to reach your business goals, you can’t avoid using content analysis tools.