Welcome to the dog days of summer, everyone! Time for vacations, barbecues, days at the beach, heading to your favorite mountain getaway, or jumping off the dock at the lake. Now that we’re well into the summer season, it’s not just hot: August can also get very sticky and grossly humid, which is why it earned the name the Dog Days of Summer.
If you work in a corporate office, an agency, or basically any kind of office setting, you may be used to things being a bit slow right now. People head out on vacation in droves, which tends to slow down any work that’s in progress, especially if you work in closely knit teams.
If you’ve already taken your vacation for the summer or if you’ve chosen to take your time off at another time of the year, it can also mean a rather empty office setting. And it can be kind of boring being one of the few left in the office while everyone else is out having fun.
If you’re an entrepreneur, unless you own a seasonal business like an ice cream shop, a landscaping or pool maintenance business, or any kind of shop near a resort area, things might be slow for your business as well.
But I’m going to share with you why the slowdown of late summer could be the best time for you to take a good look at your web analytics and giving them an audit.
Why an Analytics Audit?
Now, a quick disclaimer: as a web analytics professional, I believe of course that you should always be paying close attention to your analytics, and making sure you’re measuring the effectiveness of any marketing initiatives you may have underway with complete accuracy, year round. It really should be done on a regular basis, just like anything else you do to keep your life in order – getting the oil changed in your car, going to the dentist; or in business, keeping your accounting in order.
However… I get it: you’ve got enough going on, juggling all of your responsibilities as a business owner or marketing professional, and your Google Analytics account is….well, not at the top of the to-do list. And because people have a tendency to take a ‘set it and forget it’ approach when it comes to their Google Analytics account, they assume it’s always doing exactly what they want it to do.
But here’s a few reasons why it’s good to use summertime slow-down to audit your analytics setup:
Reason 1: The Start of a New Fiscal Year
Many companies work on a fiscal year of July 1st to June 30th. With July signaling a new year, it can mean the beginning of a new set of marketing plans to be implemented, and along with it new campaigns to launch, new budgets, and a new year of goals to meet.
This clean slate of sorts is an opportune time for you to review and straighten out your web analytics with an audit, so that you start the new fiscal year with the confidence that you can trust the integrity of your data.
Reason 2: Holiday campaigns
You know how every year we’re stunned by how early in the fall we start seeing Christmas decorations? Honestly, they’ve barely boxed up all the leftover back-to-school supplies before they’re stacking Christmas trees in the aisles!
As marketers, we’re often accustomed to the fervor of the holiday season beginning months in advance, because that’s when all of the planning takes place. This time of year is when many retailers and other businesses are in high gear getting all the pieces in place for their holiday marketing campaigns. There’s only so much advertising inventory available, so they’ve got to stake their claim early. And because huge campaigns come with so many promotional elements to produce, it’s critical to get started months in advance.
For many retailers, holiday sales can make or break their businesses’ revenue goals for the year, and much of that is dependent upon the success of their marketing campaigns. Creating and executing a campaign that is successful in driving online sales or in-store traffic is heavily dependant upon knowing with complete confidence which tactics in your marketing mix are most effective in meeting your goals, and are yielding the highest return on marketing investment.
And although most of the planning takes place earlier in the year, when holiday campaigns are in high gear, retailers are keeping a close eye on their website metrics in as near-time as they can. This is critical for being able to pivot and adjust their marketing campaigns as quickly as possible to capture as large a share of the holiday spending pie as they possibly can.
So, if you’re one of these businesses that is dependent upon holiday revenue and your analytics account isn’t configured to collect and report clean and accurate data, you could be experiencing gaps between your online sales reported in your tools and the actual sales numbers, gaps in foot traffic estimates, and more.
Or, you could be seeing inaccurate accounts of which campaigns, media, or audience segments is driving the most revenue. You don’t want to be scrambling in the midst of the holiday rush trying to diagnose and fix discrepancies in your data. Or worse yet – making bad marketing spending and marketing strategy decisions based on inaccurate data.
Reason 3: Getting Ahead of the Curve
Taking a close look at your analytics when in the process of an audit leaves you with time in the earlier part of your fiscal year to also map out a plan for how to move forward if things need course correction. For example, if you need to involve the IT team to make technical changes to your web site in order to accurately collect data, getting on their radar before they’re swamped making their own productivity goals can assure you course correct technical measurement issues early as well.
If, when combing through your analytics you come to the decision that you need to make investments in other components within your marketing stack – say, a new email provider, leveling up your CRM system, or migrating certain responsibilities like ad buying from in-house to an outside agency, knowing this now, before your annual resources have been exhausted and your budget looks like road kill will help yield the best results from this year.
And if you work in government, non-profit, or any large corporation where it takes a long time to secure review and approval for additional marketing investments, starting that process now can potentially put your new resources into action a.s.a.p. in order to help you make the best of this year’s goals.
Reason 4: Bonus Points With Your Boss
If you’ve ever experienced the frustration of discrepancies between your marketing reporting from different tools, you know what a tight spot that can put you in with clients or internal stakeholders who are looking to you to assure them of how things are going.
Just think of how impressed your boss will be when she or he returns from vacation and you announce that you’ve used the office downtime to take the initiative to clean up your web analytics with an audit, so that the entire marketing team can shine. Bonus points galore!
Reason 5: Simply Because You Can
This slow(ish) time allows for focus that you wouldn’t have had if your were cleaning up your data house any time during the rest of the year.
Analytics is such an important part of marketing, and investing the time to clean up analytics with an audit can help you know for sure that your account settings and technical setup of your analytics are a hundred percent sound and on-point.
So if you know your web analytics are due for an audit and you’ve been putting off because of competing priorities, the summer slowdown is a great opportunity to get to check off one more thing on your longer-term to-do list.
Tame that Dog Now!
As a marketer, there’s probably nothing worse than you and your team putting many hours of blood, sweat and tears into planning a big campaign, only to have it not drive business – and without knowing why. If your web analytics aren’t in order, you could be losing business, losing brand awareness, losing your money, and wasting your time and effort, all because of bad data.
If you need help getting a grip on your web analytics, Ambition Digital can help. Contact us today.