Everyday, we have the chance to influence real prospects who are having real interactions on our website. But often we fail to interpret what their digital footprints are saying about their reaction to our site. Standard web analytics reports tell us clicks, but they don’t give insights into what a visitor’s actions mean. Part of the problem is that web analytics tools only give us the high-level summary of how many visitors we have, tempting us into following vanity metrics, rather than understanding whether our website is really engaging visitors.

To go beyond reading what the canned reports tell you, here’s a 2-step tactic I’ve used for years. It helps you see what’s truly happening and convey it to your colleagues so they see the site’s potential as a lead generation engine. It entails narrating what’s really going on with visitors, the way TV sports announcers go beyond raw figures to give colour commentary on what’s really happening in a play.

Grab Screenshot of the Action

Go into your analytics package and view your site’s top content, filtered for a single segment, like paid-search visitors or those from a specific referrer. Now look at what they did that seemed significant. Did most of those that landed on Page A navigate deeper into the site while those landing on Page B immediately bounced off the site? Drill down to the data that gives clues for visitor behaviour and capture the screenview (Alt + PrintScreen on PCs).

Add illustrative Explanation

copy what Telestrators doJust like sports commentators do when they take a freezeframe of a play and put it in a telestrator or a touchscreen, you’ll convert the analytics screenshot you took into something you can markup. Do this by pasting it into any paint program you have. Any paint or drawing tool on your computer will do, or you can go to an app like Skitch, or use a tool like Picasa or Inkscape. Now start marking up your screenshot. Use circles, arrows, captions, whatever you find that helps tell the story. You can even use the In-Page view from your analytics tool to show where visitors would click – think of it like picture-in-picture or reverse-angle on the play!

Quantify the financial impact of gaps between target and actual results to prioritize corrective actions. This is not just the difference between the two values but a projected impact on sales and/or revenue (i.e. If we cut the amount of people who abandon this form by half, it will translate into leads worth $X/year).

As you share these images and start giving ‘the strategy behind the plays’ you will help colleagues regardless of how much they know about analytics. This is a great way to show how web visits relate to awareness efforts, or sales or other commercial activities your colleagues care a lot about. Most importantly, it builds a narrative from which you’ll make a case for how to improve your visitor experience…and improve the outcome of the game.