Having a solid understanding of your business’s numbers is key to making strong, informed decisions.
Every business needs to know key performance indicators (KPIs) to bring more value:
- How much money you make
- How much it costs you to run your business
- If you have enough money in the bank to keep everything running smoothly
Those KPIs apply to any business and affect the decisions you make every day. But when you run an online business, there is way more data for you to track that can help you make the best choices for your business.
Some of those numbers are easy enough to understand: your total sales, the number of subscribers on your mailing list, how many visitors came to your website… But if you have any sort of online presence – whether you run an online store or are using Facebook to advertise to potential new clients and everything in between – you’ve probably found yourself overwhelmed by the amount of information available to you online.
What is an ROAS?
Or a conversion value?
What does CTR stand for, and why should you care?
And, on top of all that, why are those numbers different depending on where you look?
It seems like it should be simple: analytics relate to events that happen on your website. Something happens – a customer visits the site, clicks a link, or makes a purchase, for example – and that data is captured. As overwhelming as all those acronyms can be, you can find out what they stand for.
But if you look at your analytics on different platforms, you’ve probably noticed discrepancies in the numbers even if they seem to be tracking the same thing.
So why is that?
Because analytics aren’t actually that simple.
Different platforms track metrics in different ways.
Take Facebook and Shopify, for example. If you run an online store through Shopify, you’ve probably looked at your analytics page. There are plenty of helpful charts and reports that tell you what your top selling products are, how many orders you received, and where your visitors to your website are coming from.
But if you look at that same information through Facebook, you’ll notice that the numbers are likely drastically different. The same is true of sales that are attributed to marketing: if you run Facebook ads, you’ll notice that the total amount of money Facebook thinks you made using your ads is not the same as what Shopify thinks you made.
This is because both sites track the same information in different ways. On top of that, it’s not just about what each of those sites is tracking. Your customers may use browsers that block or provide the information in different ways, or add extensions that block websites from tracking their sessions. Even something like different time zones can affect how the information is tracked.
How does each platform record its metrics?
That’s considered proprietary information, which means details aren’t shared publicly.
There’s no one simple answer for which analytics platform is the most accurate, but a good rule of thumb is that each platform is most successful at tracking metrics about itself. Facebook will always have the most accurate analytics about people who found you through Facebook. Google is going to track how many people found you through a Google search far more accurately than Shopify will.
Knowing why metrics don’t match on different platforms is key to making sure you are looking at the right numbers to make the best decisions for your business and your online presence. To get the best results, keeping track of your metrics on a regular basis will help make sure you’ve got the information you need.
So what numbers should you be keeping track of?
There are some KPIs that every business in the online space should be regularly monitoring:
- How many people are seeing your product or service
- How many people are purchasing your product or service
- How often people are purchasing your product or service
- How much are you spending on advertising, and how much are you getting back on for each dollar you spend?
If you don’t know these numbers, you are flying blind.