ObservePoint: Automated Web Analytics Auditing and Site Monitoring
Web Analytics are a key tool for organisations, but not everyone has considered the potential issues: from incomplete data, duplicate data and security risks via data leaks. Do you know what analytics data is collected from your website and what tools are doing the collecting?
Whether it’s visitor numbers, social shares or conversation rates, important decisions are made using analytics data; from the initial strategy decisions and forecasts, to monitoring and evaluating the strategy in play through to evaluating and refining the strategy.
The web analytics tools providing this data are very sophisticated, with tags on all relevant web pages gathering the raw numbers and presenting it in standard and customisable reports; allowing us to slice and dice our way to finding the important information. We rely on these tags to give us the right data so we can make what we believe to be the best decisions.
…but what if we are not seeing all the data? How do we know that our analytics tools are working on every page?
Who watches the Watchmen?
When you have a dynamic website, continually growing and evolving, gaining updates from multiple parts of the organisation it’s important to reduce the risk of missing tags and just as bad duplicate tags.
Then there’s data confidentially/security risk…are you confident you know all the tags on your website? What if an optimizer or measurement tool has unknowingly been added to the website by a team, perhaps an onsite survey, an embedded video or a set of slides embedded to enhance the visitor’s engagement?
Previously I’d not thought any further than “we have tags on pages that provide analytics”; then I got the opportunity to trial ObservePoint’s SiteAudit, then I realised there’s so much more going on.
Getting Started with our Trial Run
I was selected as the user most suited for the trial run; a lack of knowledge about what tags we had on our site coupled with a “let’s click on this button and see what happens” curiosity. It was a bit like writing a blog post, when you reach the blank post and have to start somewhere but all you can see is white nothingness.
Fortunately the team at ObservePoint have provided guidance to get new users started and with no software to upload a user could get up and running with a first audit in under 15 minutes.
Audits: The audit results are returned in a dashboard summary, with an audit score and links to view each of the reports. A visual of the reports available is shown to the right and below are the main findings for the site I was checking:
- Unknown tags: The initial audit identified tags I’d not specified (I didn’t know we were using them) and a couple of clicks later I had updated the audit settings to include these in the next, fuller audit.
- Lapsed tags: We did have a tag from a tool we no longer use that had not been fully removed, so this was an excellent find.
- Other Organisations’ tags: We identified both our own Google Analytics Code but also tags from four other organisations; where we’d embedded either their content or tools.
Simulations: Enables page load time for key pages to be monitored as well as tag alerts for these critical pages. So if anything does go wrong rather than calling round to ask colleagues to check a page, you are sent an alert, and then a second alert when the tag is reactivated.
The alerts and tracking activity is accessible from your dashboard so you can review performance over a given time
After the Audit
- ObservePoint run the first audit, interpret the data, talk you through their audit report and run future audits with your organisation,
- your organisation wants to be hands on from day one, running your own analysis and with an assigned account manager for support or,
- the audits are ran as a managed service or form part of a consulting service with a preferred partner.
- do you know what impact it will have on the internal team relying on the data and,
- how can you safeguard against an unapproved tag/tool being added to your site in the future?
The site audit does provide an opportunity to start discussions within your organisation and external partners about tags/tools required for data collection and the correct process to follow when adding tools. This is especially relevant for UK organisations complying with the “Cookie Law”.