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When helping organizations set up new web analytics reports, they frequently ask:, “Which data do I need to include?”
I always answer with two questions: “Who is going to read this report?” and which data will assist them succeed in their job? There is no right answer to these questions, but every report to leadership should follow these five rules:
- Keep reports short, succinct, and targeted. Long reports can leave readers hunting for relevant information, or, more likely,unread.
- Make clear statements on how the site performed, and support your interpretation with key data. When readers are left interpreting the data for themselves, they often make misguided assumptions or overlook key insights.
- Organize reports based on timely organizational initiatives. Readers are not interested in a long list of findings. They want want a story that tells them how their initiatives performed and how they could improve in the future.
- Provide organizational context. Make it clear as to which organizational activities occurred during the reporting period, and how the website successfully supported them. Readers do not often have the whole picture of what is going on across the organization, and what factors may be impacting the data. Therefore, it is vital that you paint a clear picture for them.
- Set clear expectations for the next reporting period. Consider what upcoming content or activities (or lack of activities) might affect traffic. Avoid a situation where readers misinterpret a decline in traffic as a problem with the site rather than a lull in organizational activity.
Too often, organizations lose sight of their audience for their analytics reports Ultimately, your goal should be to get readers digestible and actionable information. If you find that you need to create multiple reports each month, and be sure you automate your data collection as much as possible. By keeping these five rules at hand, you can be assured that you are providing insights rather than just data points.
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