In Part 1, we looked at the main differences between analysis and analytics, then covered some of the key features of analytics in digital marketing. The data points we highlighted– reach, conversions, and cost – still remain important as you move forward. Keep them in mind as you refine your analytics system. If done correctly, improving your systemshould enhance the accuracy and relevancy of these data points to your business goals.

Working with an analytics system can be daunting at first, especially if you haven’t adjusted the system yet to serve your goals. To make the process simpler, yet still effective, we’ve clarified what you need to do in just three easy steps. If you follow them, you’ll be well on your way to using analytics successfully in your analyses.

(Note that these steps are intended to drive users to a website, generate website leads, and convert those leads into rentals/sales. If those aren’t your goals, you may need to adjust these steps to your specific situation.)

1) Make sure all the tactics you’re using to drive users to your website are tracked.

You can do this by setting up links with Google Tag Manager. Then, you can post these links on social media, paid search ads, affiliate websites, etc.

Not all tagging needs to be manually set up; systems such as Google AdWords have tagging built in. Once a process for tagging your marketing initiatives is set up, you can pull reports for each channel or tactic to see which ones are driving the most sales.

2) Make sure your website has tracking analytics installed and set up correctly.

Google Analytics is free! But you can also use other, more robust paid products like Adobe Analytics or Omniture. Choose what works best for your business and budget.

Tracking code is relatively easy to understand, but ultimately your website developer should be able to add the code in one place to populate the tracking code to all areas of your site. Multiple domains? No problem. Many systems can be configured to pull all the site analytics into one system and/or one dashboard.

3) Track your website conversions and sales attribution.

You’ll also want to set up micro and macro conversions to track the behavior path users take when they become leads. The sale can be attributed back to the specific digital marketing tactic or campaign that drove the user to the site in the first place. In addition, you can assign monetary value to your website micro and macro conversions. Although this setup takes a bit of time at first, the extra effort pays off. Knowledge of a user’s click path and behavior prior to becoming a lead can help you understand which areas of your website are most valuable for driving visitors to act and convert into sales.

The goal is to understand which strategy or tactic drove the sale. For example, a user could arrive to the website through organic search, download an informational brochure, then come back via a bookmark. That website visitor might become a phone call lead who schedules a tour of the property and finally rents a unit. In this situation, you could credit the organic search query and brochure to the rental – in addition to the sales training of the manager who closed the tour/rental.

When your website analytics is properly set up, the data you gather will be invaluable for your analysis of marketing campaigns. Analytics can easily become the core of your strategy, especially as you begin to realize its benefits.

Be careful to avoid total dependency on data, though. Analytics isn’t perfect. Sometimes visitors aren’t tracked correctly; and sometimes what one system reports doesn’t match up perfectly with another system. Before using data in an analysis, it’s best to know how that data was captured in each system, as well as to understand if/when any estimates were used. It’s rare to find an analytics system that measures everything you want perfectly and accurately.

Having insufficient data or an incomplete data set is another issue that can come up when using analytics to make business decisions. Keep in mind the statistical significance of the data you’re looking at. Otherwise, you might be unnecessarily alarmed – or reassured – by trends that don’t actually reflect the true situation.

In the end, your business decisions still rely on you and your team. Although analytics can provide you with crucial details, your insights are ultimately what make your business successful. Just as analysis is weaker without analytics, analytics is useless without analysis.

Beginner’s Guide to Analytics in Digital Marketing:

Part 1: Analysis vs. Analytics

Part 2: How to Use Analytics Successfully