What should be included in a website analytics report?
Dashboards are a much-maligned tool in web analytics. Many can be only politely described as reports, whereas data pukes is a more accurate term. But I believe there is a gap between these reports filled with data and the minimalistic Actionable Dashboards created by Avinash, a gap that can be filled by useful performance dashboards.
Business owners need information to make decisions. Some of them want to view data, not just be told what the data means and what their decision should be.
But web analytics tools contain too much data. They end up being useless to the business owner as they can’t get the information they need.
A well-designed dashboard meets this need (automated so that minimal resources are required to update). It contains only required information so that it is basically a simplified web analytics UI.
The business owner should no longer need to use the web analytics tool directly. Instead, the dashboard provides all the information they typically require. Requests can be escalated to an expert user when necessary. This expert can then use the web analytics tool to answer advanced business questions.
These excel dashboard templates are designed to provide this level of data for business owners. Up to 12 metrics can be included within each dashboard, and these metrics can be analysed using the three basic techniques of data analysis:
- Context – each metric is referenced against a comparison period
- Trend – each metric is trended for up to 15 periods
- Segmentation – up to five segments can be applied to the data
How to build a web analytics dashboard
Our dashboards follow a basic structure and layout that has evolved into powerful analytics dashboards. Some best practices include:
- Display performance for a current period referenced against a comparison number
- Make sure each metric can also be viewed visually and trended over time
- The % change between current performance and the comparison number is highlighted as either good or bad (green/red) if it falls outside a certain range
- The dashboards should print out nicely on an A4 page
- Use drop-down menus to select the segment of data or metric for display (in excel dashboards, macros must be enabled for these to work). This allows a potentially huge level of detail to be available without cluttering up the report and distracting from the key information.
In our excel templates for web analytics dashboards, these dropdowns work with Excel formulas that were originally inspired by Stephane Hamel with an Excel dashboard template he created.
Setting up the web analytics dashboard
There is a ‘Setup Dashboard’ worksheet where various elements need to be entered. Once this is done, press the button to set up the dashboard automatically using a macro. Then, delete unnecessary worksheets.
Full instructions on how to set up the dashboard are included with each file. The key elements are:
- Formatting – A set of eight elements that determine which dashboard is used, the appearance of this dashboard, and how it is configured for use
- Metric Groups – The names for up to four groups of metrics
- Segments – If the dashboard that allows segmentation is chosen, you can enter the names of up to six segments here
- Metrics – The names for up to three metrics within each metric group along with the formatting options for that metric and whether good performance is a positive or negative change.
Updating the web analytics report
The analytics report template relies on the user to find a method of populating the ‘Data Summary’ worksheet with the metric values for that time period. Assuming the data sources have an API, we recommend setting up a process where you periodically update the data on another worksheet. Each cell in your ‘Data Summary’ worksheet can then simply reference the appropriate cell within this data extract worksheet.
The same principle applies if there are multiple data sources, simply set up multiple data extract worksheets. If needs be, the data can be entered manually, although we highly recommend implementing a better solution than this.
Don’t forget to enter the date for this data period, whether the day/month or the end date if it is a weekly dashboard. After that, simply press the “Update Dashboard" button and your web analytics dashboard is ready to go.
Our web analytics template here contains a fairly standard layout for a dashboard, covering all the basic information that key stakeholders might require. However, they might also want to see easy-to-read, visual funnels, top 5/10 tables, or indexed data within the dashboard. This is all possible with customised dashboards.
All the basics of the approach used by Ayima Analytics are contained within this dashboard template. For example, the style, the formulas, and macros. So if you have someone in-house who is good with design and Excel, they should be able to set up a custom dashboard to your specifications.
Ayima Query is our proprietary tool for building real-time marketing dashboards from multiple data sources for some of the world’s leading brands.
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Download our free excel dashboard template for web analytics
There are two dashboard templates:
Simply click on the files above and click “Use Template” in the top right to copy it to your own drive and start making changes. The templates are designed to work in Microsoft Excel.
Other marketing templates
We release a number of dashboards for members of Ayima Insights Club, our exclusive club where you can sign up for personalised insights based on your interests.
Interested in learning more about web analytics? Our experts are on hand if you’d like a more in-depth personal analysis or a bespoke strategy. Get in touch with the team here, we'd love to hear from you.
Note: Originally published on Leapthree.com in 2011, and moved across to Ayima.com as part of the 2018 acquisition.