The AABCs of Web Analytics


Developing an analytics framework is best done from the ground up. So before we get into analyzing the big picture of your business, we need to understand how to use any given metric in a specific, very intentional way. We do that with the AABCs of web analytics. That is: Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, Conversion.

Essentially, whenever you’re trying to use any given metric to get a better understanding of some part of your business, you need to know who is represented in that number (audience), where they came from to get to your site (acquisition), what they did once they got there (behavior), and the resulting outcome (conversion).

Never, ever look at a number without knowing those four components. Not to get ahead of ourselves here, but Google Analytics is even set up to emphasize these four components of analysis. We'll take a closer look at how and why Google Analytics does it this way in a later lesson, but for now let's break down each component:

For your audience, who exactly are your site visitors? You might ask and answer questions like: Where are they from? What language do they speak? How old are they? What are their interests/hobbies? What devices (mobile, tablet, desktop) do they typically use for your site? Etc.

For acquisition, how did these people arrive at your site? You might ask and answer questions like: Which channels do people come through? Search? Social? Email? Referral? Do some channels seem to do better than others? Why might that be? How well do my marketing campaigns bring in traffic? Etc.

For behavior, what do your visitors do once they’re on your site? Do they leave right away? View a few pages? A lot of pages? Consume a little or a lot of free content, like blogs and videos?

For conversion, do people do what you want them to do? That is, do they convert. In the online world, we can break this down into micro conversions and macro conversions.

Micro conversions are lower resistance conversions because they don’t require your visitors to make a big investment of some sort (like time, money, or even personal information).

Some examples: Viewing several different pages on your site; Watching a video all the way through to the end; Following you on social media; Sharing your content on social media.

Macro conversions represent a higher level of investment for your users and are generally more difficult to achieve. Some examples: Opting in to your newsletter; Filling out an inquiry form; Starting a free trial; Making a purchase.

As you can see, a macro conversion isn't just purchasing something from you. A macro conversion is anything that requires a visitor to invest something in you and your business, even if that's giving up an email address in exchange for something from you.

In the next video, we're going to see how we can use our AABCs to drill down into our data and get fine-grain, actionable insight into our businesses.