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The Whole Truth About Data Integrity: Can You Trust Your Analytics?

 

What if I told you that there are actually 7 fingers on each of your hands?

1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 . . . that can’t be right, can it? But, what if all this time your eyes had misled you and the information in every textbook you ever read was based on false data.

In the world of marketing, being fed the correct information is the most essential tool for your decision-making process as a business leader. After all:

  • As a person, how would having 7 fingers on each hand affect how you approached everyday tasks?
  • If you found out that your paid advertising campaigns were being severely undercut in terms of ROI, how would it change your marketing strategy?

Take a minute to stop and think about the data-crunching tools you use every day, from Google Analytics to your website’s eCommerce feedback. You rely on these data sources to supply you with critical information that shapes your business. So, when was the last time a specialist ensured that the data being supplied is accurate?

 

The ‘Set It & Forget It’ Mentality

When most businesses like yours launch a new website, services for data tracking (such as Google Analytics) are included. From that day onward, you use your data platforms to track the performance of your website and traffic sources. You then contact your programmer anytime you need changes or updates to your website. Very rarely in this scenario would you or your programmer check back in to ensure that the initial data-tracking setup was affected – because data never lies, right?

 

Problems with the ‘Set It & Forget It’ Workflow

Website Code Updates Break Analytics Tracking

First of all, websites are highly dynamic systems. Content management systems used to build websites (such as WordPress, Drupal and Wix) make constant updates to improve functionality for their clients. Sometimes, however, these backend changes require additional manual adjustments to your analytics tracking (e.g. events, goals, triggers, tags, etc.).

 

Example: Many WordPress contact forms use a plugin called “Contact Form 7 ” which allows for easy installation and upkeep of your website’s forms. In November 2017, to increase information security, WordPress changed the code on the website which fires when this form is submitted. As a result, if businesses do not update their analytics dashboard, data from these forms may be partially or entirely lost.

Analytics Software Updates Require Manual Execution

Furthermore, your website isn’t the only software system that makes advancements. Analytics providers such as Google are working every day to create new offerings which allow companies like yours to gain deeper insights into your web traffic, revenue and customer behaviour. Are these updates automatically installed? – Not always. And, if not, who on your team is responsible for following these updates and implementing the necessary changes to your systems?

Example: Google Analytics recently improved their audience insights for remarketing lists. This report allows you to see how segmented lists of users who have been on your website engage with your content, compared to other groups. These insights must be set-up by an analytics professional, and the data is only available from the day of set-up forward.

Expanded Marketing Efforts Require Additional Analytics Setup

Additionally, the pages and content of your website are not static. Whether it be seasonal promotions, new marketing efforts, specialized landing pages, or a new social media platform – staying ahead of the times in terms of your digital offering is crucial to maintaining your position as a market leader. Does your team have a process to ensure that changes and updates to your website do not break your tracking?

Example: Say your website was to update your payment software from Company A to Company B. After purchasing from Company A, your users were sent to a page called “www.website.com/thank-you”. Now that you have switched over to Company B, you send your users to a new page called “www.website.com/checkout-complete. Who on your team is responsible for adjusting the tracking to reflect the new URL?

Businesses Show a Disproportional Focus on Digital Advertising Versus Data Tracking Fidelity

Lastly, most businesses like yours are investing more money into digital marketing than ever before. An article by Forbes projects that digital marketing is on pace to make up 46% of the entire advertising space by 2021. Every quarter, an increasing number of businesses turn to digital marketing for advertising campaigns which are cost-effective, granular and above all else measurable. However, in a world where more and more emphasis is being placed on digital marketing because of the ability to track performance, most businesses still aren’t taking the necessary steps to ensure they are receiving the whole truth.

The Bottom Line

What’s the ultimate result of data negligence? Gaps in data leading to “dark periods” where events cannot be tracked and marketing ROI cannot be measured. Much like the ticking hand on a clock, most data which is lost is lost forever.

 

Example of a goal breaking in Google Analytics.

 

Strategies to Equip You with Grade “A” Data

I’m glad we can agree: Ensuring that your business data is whole and complete is crucial for your role as a business manager. So, which approach will work for you to manage the upkeep and innovation of your data tools?

Solution #1: Hire an In-House Data Professional

In a perfect world, every business would have a member of their team solely dedicated to data integrity. However, the world is far from perfect:

  • Data scientists are not cheap. In fact, they are the most in-demand and nearly the highest-paid employees in America who work in engineering and IT.
  • Most small to medium-sized businesses do not require a member of their team to be full-time analytics and data specialists and finding a qualified employee willing to work part-time or on contract is next to impossible.

Solution #2: Hire an Agency for Ongoing Support & Maintenance

If you know the exact kind of data you are looking for, hiring an agency to keep your systems up-to-date and functioning is a great solution to meet your minimum requirements. Some key services you should be looking for from any analytics support proposal are:

  • Web project-based analytics support
  • Marketing campaign-based analytics support
  • New conversions, goals and events
  • Goal tracking monitoring
  • Up-to-date analytics features
  • Custom dashboards
  • Monthly filtering (ie. spam, in-house traffic, invalid hostnames, etc.)
  • Troubleshooting

 

Next Steps

As a business leader, you use your data every day to understand your customers, revenue and performance. Ultimately, this understanding is what leads you to make the crucial decisions which will guide your company’s future strategy. We advise that you treat your data like playing cards – and stack the deck with the best possible hand to make sure that when you choose to make a move, no cards have been left unturned.

Interested in learning more about ongoing data integrity services?

Browse our Digital Analytics Services today!