Understanding the behaviour of site users
Google Analytics is one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal. It allows you to measure and analyse how users interact with your site in infinitesimal detail. How they found you, what they look at, what they click on, how long they stay and (hopefully) what they buy.
The ability to see how people interact with your site makes Google Analytics indispensable in guiding your marketing and content strategy decisions.
Most importantly, for those of you who look after client websites, Google Analytics allows you to demonstrate via analysis of data, the value that your work brings, so you can answer with confidence that perennial question from your most sceptical clients – “What is it that I’m paying you for?”.
Enter Facebook Analytics
Facebook has just entered the full feature analytics fray, with their own analytics service. Just like Google Analytics, Facebook Analytics is free and aims to collect data about users on their journey through your website. Facebook, it goes without saying, can track what users do on its own service too, which can provide some helpful insights into their behaviour.
If you’ve ever installed and correctly set up a Facebook Pixel on your website, Facebook Analytics will already be collecting your site data and you’ll, therefore, be able to dive straight in and see what insights into user behaviour can be gleaned. The customisation options are dizzying. Facebook Analytics enables you to start and visualise a funnel taking (for example) users from commenting on a Facebook post, right through to check out on your site and every stage in between. Each stage you believe is significant can be defined as ‘events’ (actions which can be tracked) and users can be tracked over hours, days or even weeks from the start of the funnel to the end.
Google Analytics users will feel instantly at home on Facebook Analytics, the interface on the two platforms are superficially similar and the aims of each platform are more or less the same. But comparing the two will sometimes show differences in the information returned. So why is this?
Track people across devices and channels
One of the most interesting and useful features of Facebook Analytics is what they call ‘omnichannel analytics’. In essence, Facebooks analytics recognises that people use different devices and different channels when accessing your services. A user might browse your site on his mobile, having clicked through from an ad he spotted on the train home, but come back later in the evening and make a purchase from his desktop on the strength of that earlier browsing.
The ad clearly led to the sale, but how do you track that? With Google Analytics, tracking is based on browser cookies, but with Facebook Analytics, user journeys can be followed across multiple devices based on their Facebook login. In the above example therefore, Google would spot a desktop user searching for your site (knowing nothing about his train journey browsing) and attribute the conversion to the organic search, whereas, Facebook Analytics would be able to correctly attribute the conversion to that ad he saw despite all the user research happening on a different device.
Demographics to die for?
When you consider how much Facebook knows about people who use its service, the ability to drill right down into the demographics of users as they access your site and track individuals across multiple web-enabled devices is an absolute gift to marketers. Those of us seeking to understand the habits, the needs and the wants of our audience now have a terrific new tool in our arsenal. Being able to analyse and segment an audience in ever greater detail will no doubt lead to more accurate personas being established and better decisions being made on which direction to take marketing campaigns.
It’s all in the interpretation
While both Google and Facebook offer formidable analytics platforms, it’s important to understand that neither of them provides ‘information’, all they provide is ‘data’. The facts, figures, demographics and trends, are meaningless without interpretation. Analytics only show ‘what is’, it’s up to marketers to look at collections of facts and interpret cause, effect and meaning. Only then does data become information and something on which a strategy can be based. Having said that, more detailed data will undoubtedly yield better information.
We’ve already heard of Facebook analytics being referred to as being potentially more powerful than Google Analytics and while the true value of this new service is only starting to be realised, it’s clear that marketers keen to be amongst the first to make use of this phenomenal service are sure to see some significant gains.
You can always rely on Falkon to be at the cutting edge of the latest digital marketing trends and you can be sure we’ll be experimenting with this latest tool to get the best results for our clients and keep them competitive in their own industries.