Over the past ten years as an SEO evangelist, web analytics guy, and digital strategist, I have processed hundreds of web metrics reports. They have been short and long and covered every conceivable deadline —monthly, quarterly, annually, even bi-weekly.
While the reports varied, most of them have one thing in common: they all result in no action whatsoever.
I think regularly scheduled reports are vital. They provide valuable easy to digest information that our clients can share. But they often serve more as an exercise in checking a box and fulfilling a deliverable; they're like a routine check-up with your doctor.
Beyond not leading to action, this type of reporting doesn’t take advantage of the web analytics, UX, and digital strategy experts at a client’s disposal. Moving from reporting to action planning is a process. It will most likely require discussions with clients and a meeting and series of emails among your team.
So if you have the freedom to revise your report, rally your team and get started changing your report to an action plan. Learn how in the latest edition of The Spark podcast, and read on for some helpful tips.
Identify your goals.
Your team should already have a good understanding of what your project goals are as well as the goals of the agency or office you are supporting. Look for content and actions users can take which would align with those goals. In the private sector, this is much easier where goals can be aligned with leads, sales, revenue, and profit. For government projects, goals will most likely be related to raising awareness, changing behaviors, and being more informed.
Identify the metrics.
After your goals have been identified, look for metrics that will help you and your team know if you are making progress to achieving those goals. For most goals, two to three metrics should be sufficient. Also, I know I railed against reporting on basic metrics such as visits, but monitoring these metrics in conjunction with others can provide valuable insights about progress.
Understand the trends.
Once you have your metrics identified, you can’t just start reporting and knowing if you are making progress. You should understand what has already been happening with your metrics. It’s important to know if there are seasonal trends, have certain metrics been increasing organically without any actions being taken. Understanding the trends in your website metrics will empower you to provide a better analysis once you start reporting and help you with the final step.
Plan your actions.
The final step in moving from reporting to action planning is to plan your actions. You and your team understand what you want to accomplish and how to measure if you accomplish it. Now, you must identify the actions your team will complete to achieve your goals. These can be quick fixes or long-term ongoing actions. When you plan your actions, it’s good to experiment and try new things. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to stick with what you know as well. The important thing is to monitor your metrics and change tactics if your actions are not having the desired effect.
Moving from reporting to action planning will also give your regularly scheduled reports more structure and a better narrative. You can break the report into sections based on goals and sub-sections by actions which will hopefully show that the actions you are taking are helping your client achieve their goals.