How to Detect a Bad Analytics Implementation

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How to Detect a Bad Analytics Implementation

Over the course of my career as an independent analyst, I've been brought in numerous times to help fix a bad implementation. Here are a few easy things you can do to double check ...

Over the course of my career as an independent analyst, I’ve been brought in numerous times to help fix a bad implementation. Here are a few easy things you can do to double check your analytics implementation and see if there are any red flags to be concerned about.

Extremely Low Bounce Rate

If your bounce rate is less than 1%, don’t rejoice. This is often a sign of a tagging error. Now I have come across clients that actually did this on purpose in order to artificially deflate their bounce rate and inflate their traffic, but personally I don’t think it’s a wise practice. If you’re not doing this on purpose then you need to get someone to check your implementation, STAT.

Analytics Tracking Firing Multiple Times

So generally when you have the low bounce rate, the problem usually stems from having your analytics tracking firing multiple times on the same page / screen. How can you tell if that’s what’s happening? The quickest and easiest method I know would be to install a handy little plugin into your browser called ObservePoint. I use it in Chrome and I believe they also are available for FireFox as well. In either case once you have installed this plugin, just open your browser tools (F12 for Chrome) and select the ObservePoint tab to see what tracking happens to be firing on your site. The following example is what you would see on my site currently.

ObservePoint

 

Obviously my site isn’t firing multiple instances of Google Universal Analytics or Adobe Analytics (it would be embarrassing if it did!), but if you saw multiple instances of your analytics on this list, that would be a red flag.

 ECommerce Earnings Not Matching Actual Earnings

Your analytics tool will not be 100% down to the penny accurate on tracking your eCommerce transactions, so you shouldn’t panic if your analytics eCommerce data is off by a few cents here or there compared to your actual revenue. The thing to look out for is if the data is off by a large amount, then that may indicate a tagging issue with your eCommerce code. For example if your online earnings in June were $153,678, but Google Analytics reports $153,675 – that would not be concerning. However if Google Analytics reported $135,498 instead, that would be a red flag and some investigation into the eCommerce implementation is recommended.

These represent the top issues I’ve run across the most often with new clients and existing implementations. It just takes a quick look to see if any of these red flags appear in your implementation, and then either going back to your analyst to fix the issues, or hiring another analyst or consultant.

Are there other red flags I’m missing from my list? Feel free to chime in with a comment!

 

Gabriele has been doing "Web Stuff" since the mid-1990s, and Web Analytics since 2005. She began with Omniture SiteCatalyst (now known as Adobe Analytics) and is now also well versed in Google Analytics. She has been building a team of professional analysts who have expertise in all the major analytics platforms, including Adobe Analytics, Google Analytics, IBM Coremetrics and WebTrends.