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6 steps to creating a customer-centric web analytics strategy
Analyzing website performance data can feel like you’re floating aimlessly in a sea of numbers, graphs, and percentages, without being able to anchor them to real-life scenarios. For example, you can track the abandonment rate of a particular page, but that doesn’t tell you why customers are exiting in the first place.
Web analytics data gives you the information you need to analyze what’s happening on your site—but understanding and utilizing those insights is another thing entirely. And without a web analytics strategy, you’ll be doing a lot of guesswork.
A well-crafted analytics strategy ensures you make website optimizations based on objective data that reflects your customers’ needs and provides the best user experience (UX) possible, while keeping your business goals and priorities on track.
This step-by-step guide helps you get down to the basics of creating an impactful, customer-centric web analytics strategy guided by data-driven decisions.
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What is a web analytics strategy?
A web analytics strategy is the collecting, reporting, and analysis of website data. It’s essential for gaining insights into what drives your business forward and developing an understanding of the user experience—and how you can improve it.
In short, a web analytics strategy is a playbook for achieving your goals and meeting your business objectives.
Why do you need a web analytics strategy?
It’s simple: if you have a website for your business, you need a web analytics strategy.
Having a web analytics strategy in place before you dive into your data and customer insights ensures you make data-driven business decisions that keep your customer at the forefront of everything you do and will:
How to create an impactful web analytics strategy in 6 steps
We’ve brought it back to the basics and created this six-step guide to help you develop a strategy that puts your customer at the forefront, so you can keep making the right decisions for the right reasons.
Let’s dive in!
1. Collect website data and customer insights
Web analytics tools give you insights into your website and customer behavior so you can assess metrics like traffic, user interaction with your site, and visitor acquisition.
We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to web analytics tools: there are plenty of options with varying costs, collaborative capabilities, and user interfaces. Select the tools that collect information in the way you find most helpful.
For example, using traditional quantitative web analytics tools with qualitative behavior analytics tools—like pairing Hotjar with Google Analytics—results in a winning combination that provides insights from both perspectives, helping you answer the whys behind the whats of web analysis.
When you combine tools like Hotjar Heatmaps, Recordings, and Surveys with your Google Analytics dashboard, you add visual representation to your data and give your customers a voice, which lets you see (from your customers’ perspectives) exactly where you’re going right or wrong.
After reviewing Google Analytics data, installing Hotjar is one of the first steps we take in every client engagement. It’s the window we use to understand the customer journey.
By analyzing both quantitative and qualitative data, you’ll see the hard facts (the numbers, graphs, and percentages we mentioned earlier) and the behavioral context behind them that tells the story of a customer’s journey.
Typically, you’ll want to analyze at least the following metrics to get a clear sense of your user behavior:
Traffic to your site
Acquisition of your website visitors
Bounce rates and abandonment rates
Time spent on-site
Keep reading to learn which KPIs we recommend for a customer-centric web analytics strategy.
The opportunity for inspiration is endless, so we’d caution against only looking at so-called ‘vanity metrics’ and remember your reason for implementing your web analytics strategy in the first place.
Celebrating the wins is important, but the point of analyzing data is not just to pat yourself on the back about the sales you’re making and ignore the rest. Look for opportunities and be motivated by the potential of your site to offer an amazing user experience.
Once you’re set up with an analytics platform that works for you, you’re ready to collect insights into your customers’ experience and use them to inform the next steps of your strategy.
2. Define your goals and objectives
Your goals and objectives set the tone for your web analytics strategy.
Think critically about what you want to get out of your website, and your business as a whole—in the short-term, long-term, and everything in between—and create actionable, understandable steps for everyone involved.
Objectives can be thought of as your reason for being: why your site exists, what makes your company unique, and what product or service you’re offering your customer.
Goals get more specific, and it’s here that you need to ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish on your website. Are you looking to increase sales? Reach a growing audience of happy and loyal customers? Spread the word about your newsletter? All of the above?
The clearer you are at the start, the easier it is to assess your progress later on. Don’t overcomplicate things—it can be as simple and actionable as this:
"Our objective is to build awareness of our brand, and our goal is to increase the number of sign-ups to our weekly newsletter by 50% by the end of the next quarter."
And with that, you have a great foundation on which to base the rest of your strategy.
Pro tip: developing a web analytics strategy isn't just a box-ticking exercise.
Come up with new ways to continually build deeper connections with your customers and understand what drives them—or what turns them away.
Think of your customer as the lighthouse that guides you, and critically assess whether everything you’re doing is being done for the right reasons. For example, your business priority may be to increase sales, but rather than simply optimizing the last step in the checkout process, look to create a more seamless journey and better user experience to get prospects to checkout.
As your goals get more specific, it's important to understand where your strategy fits within the marketing funnel and how different your approach to each stage may need to be.
This brings us to the next step…
3. Understand where you fit within the marketing funnel
Your website goals will differ depending on which stage of the funnel your target customers are in, and your customers will be looking for different things depending on where they are in their journey.
For example, someone at the top of the funnel may not even know what they need yet—they’ve just learned about your business and are now trying to gauge who you are and what you do. This is the time to convey your branding and personality while laying the groundwork for trust.
At the bottom of the funnel, your customer is actively in the market and prepared to purchase; they just need a reason to choose you over a competitor.
Let’s look at how the marketing funnel is defined in simple terms.
Analyzing customers at each level of the funnel helps you apply your web analytics strategy to every stage of their journey. You’ll be able to respond to their specific needs instead of relying on a one-size-fits-all approach.
We recommend continually assessing your customers within the funnel so you can monitor whether you’re offering the best experience possible.
4. Determine your KPIs
Key performance indicators (KPIs) guide your web analytics strategy and provide inspiration on how to take action in specific areas through a deeper understanding of your customers’ needs.
KPIs like conversions, page views, acquisitions, and bounce rates reveal a lot about the health of your site and business, and give you visibility into where your customers are coming from and their behavior and experience on your website.
By mapping your KPIs back to your goals and objectives, you can track your results and measure your progress in a way that makes sense. For example, if one of your goals is to increase the number of customers in Germany, measuring KPIs such as acquisition, conversion rates, and the number of visitors in Germany would be one way to see whether you’re on track to hitting your target.
How to pick KPIs for different stages of the marketing funnel
We’ve already talked a little about the value of funnel analysis to better understand your customers’ motivations.
The same applies to your KPIs: setting KPIs within the context of the funnel will guarantee you’re looking at the right metrics for the right reasons. By defining KPIs representing customers at each stage of their journey, you can home in on essential insights into their on-site behavior.
Let’s look at how your KPIs might differ throughout the funnel:
By understanding the difference in KPIs—and the people they represent—at each level of the funnel, you’ll stay attuned to customer behavior and be better equipped to anticipate optimization opportunities that address exactly what they need.
A note on conversions
We’ve mentioned conversions a few times now—they’re often hailed as one of the most important measures of success for a business. A conversion happens when a website user takes any desired action—like landing on a specific page, clicking a certain link, or making a purchase—and conversions will look different depending on your business and target audience.
Conversion rate optimization, or CRO, is optimizing, experimenting, or making changes to your site to increase conversions.
And while conversions are important, a lot of work needs to come before this stage. It can be easy to get caught up in the numbers and ROI, but to reach the people you’re targeting, it’s essential to keep the user experience at the heart of your optimizations and use this as the driving force behind your strategy.
Something led them to your site—maybe curiosity driven by a marketing campaign, or they were looking for a solution to a problem—and something will either drive them away or convince them to take the next step.
Combining traditional web analytics tools like Google Analytics with behavior analytics platforms like Hotjar provides an extra level of insight into the user experience, so you can stay connected to your customers' needs even while working towards your CRO.
5. Segment your data for reporting
Segmenting the data you’ve gathered from a source like Google Analytics lets you isolate the specific information and metrics you’re most interested in, piece together the puzzle, zoom out, and build a cohesive picture of your customer's journey.
Your segmentation subsets can be as specific as you need them to be. They should support the goals and KPIs you’ve already set in place so you can assess your web analytics strategy's impact on your results and see your users’ behavior coming to life.
For example, if your goal is to increase purchases made by customers in a specific location, reviewing all customer data from every country isn’t going to give you the insights you need. Instead, segment your data to represent the subset of the customers you’re specifically targeting. Setting strict parameters for analyzing your data from the start saves you from a lot of headaches later on.
You can segment your data into subsets as specific as:
Customers who purchased only a specific product
The number of page views of a certain page
Customers in a certain location
All website traffic that occurred within a particular time frame
Mobile vs desktop users
Purchases made exceeding a certain value
Customers who added something to their cart but didn’t check out
Google Analytics allows for a huge variety of segmentation, so explore your dashboard there. You can also apply Hotjar’s filters to Heatmaps, Recordings, Feedback, and Funnels to enjoy a closer look at specific behavior patterns and site performance within your chosen subsets.
6. Analyze the results
It’s time to analyze the data you’ve collected!
The point of putting a web analytics strategy into place isn’t just to set it out to sail and hope for the best. It’s what you do with the results that really matters.
Remember the lighthouse we mentioned? With your customer as your focal point, setting frequent check-ins, clear targets, and committed deadlines to assess your website performance prevents you from wasting time on something that isn’t working, so you can react to issues as quickly as possible. Actively engaging with your data also ensures your goals stay manageable and actionable.
Let’s go back to an example we mentioned earlier: imagine your goal for Q1 is to increase newsletter sign-ups by 50%. Scheduling regular check-ins throughout the quarter lets you assess performance and ensure you’re on track to achieving your goal. If your progress toward your target is slower than expected, you can look at new optimization opportunities without waiting to see how they play out.
That’s not to say you need to conduct an extensive analysis of your data whenever you want to find out how your website is performing.
We’d suggest saving the deep dives for data collected over longer periods—such as monthly or quarterly—to get the most valuable insights. For more frequent (daily or weekly) performance check-ins, keep your analysis brief and high-level; this is enough to stay on top of your website performance without getting bogged down by micro-details.
Pro tip: Hotjar Heatmaps, Feedback, and Recordings are helpful tools for visualizing your data so it’s easier to share the performance results of your site.
Heatmaps show which parts of a web page capture visitors’ attention (or get ignored), giving you an at-a-glance impression of which parts of your site are being overlooked
Recordings collect every customer’s session on your website, so you can see firsthand how they experience and interact with each page
Creating engaging, visual, and well-structured performance reports for sharing your results makes otherwise dense information easier for the wider team and stakeholders to understand.
Ultimately, you want your data to be understandable and actionable. Prioritize helping your audience make sense of the data and connect with the individuals behind the numbers.
Where to take your web analytics strategy from here
The next step? It’s simple: keep going!
A customer-centric web analytics strategy is the key to deeper insights—not just into your customers, but also into your business. Keep reviewing your results, assessing the impact of your web analytics strategy, and above all, putting your customer at the front and center of your website optimizations.
By staying objective with the data and continually looking for opportunities to improve your user experience, you’ll be equipped to take your goals and objectives through to long-term success.
Make Hotjar part of your web analytics strategy
Take your website analytics strategy to the next level with behavior analytics and product experience insights from Hotjar.