This one framework will change the way you use analytics forever

This is the eleventh in a series of articles on growth hacking, inspired by my journey to a minidegree in Growth Marketing from the CXL Institute. Read more: What is growth hacking? | How to run a successful growth marketing experiment in six steps | This one mindset will make you a better marketer | The successful formula for A/B testing mastery| This one overlooked tool will supercharge your content marketing


When it comes to content marketing, the pull to move onto the next content project is the greatest right after hitting “Publish.” This makes sense: You’ve just spent all of this time building out the content product and quite possibly the last thing you want to do is spend more time with it.

You know where this is going…

You must resist! The instinct to move on quickly is a factor of your human nature! We like novel things — and at this point, your content marketing project is most certainly not new. So you have to work doubly hard to see your content masterpiece through so it can live up to its fullest potential.

How do you do that? Analytics, of course!

A framework for analyzing content marketing performance

This framework actually applies to any type of marketing performance, as it hinges on getting to the root of specific questions and then finding the right data that allow you to act in a way that boosts your business.

However, this framework has a huge difference in normal analysis: you use it at the start of a new project to find the right story in your data. So you’ll use it to analyze the performance of your content marketing by diving into your analytics with a specific question and action in mind. Then, you’ll dig for data in your analytics that helps answer the question.

This is called the QIA Framework and here’s how it works.

Question. Start your analysis with a question in mind. Make it targeted and useful. In our content marketing example, let’s say that we just published a sales enablement white paper targeted to marketers at midsized tech companies.

The question could be: “We want to increase our spend on Linkedin Ads to promote this whitepaper to our target demo. Should we?” Or it could be “Should we create a mobile-optimized landing page to promote the whitepaper?” Or, if done in advance of your content marketing project

Information. Armed with a question, then you jump into your analytics. This allows you to stay focused and not distracted. You should pursue only the data and information that helps answer your question.

In our case, we are going to analyze our current performance with paid Linkedin Ads, as well as other paid media. We’ll also look at our organic traffic from Linkedin and benchmark it with other channels. We may also look at our mobile device usage to determine viability of a landing page.

Action. The last piece is to have a specified action that you will take with this analysis. All too often, great content marketing projects are produced and distributed, with fancy parts shared up the chain. And that’s it. There’s no action attached. Pat on the back, move onto the next project.

Unfortunately, that leaves so many insights on the table, insights that could be used to improve the next project or to further leverage existing resources for stronger ROI. In our example, the action could be “If Linkedin drives at least 10% of our traffic to past whitepapers, we’ll invest in ads.” Or If 10% of our traffic is mobile, then we’ll invest in a landing page.”

With QIA, you set your action threshold in advance so that you know what you do with the data and have clear yes/no momentum coming out of the analysis.

Why action helps analysis

Of course, finding a story in your day that doesn’t only happen after a project. You can (AND SHOULD) also use the QIA Framework to dive into your analytics when considering a content marketing or conversion optimization project.

Most important thing is to have that pre-determined action that tells you what you’ll do with the answer to the question. You need to know what you plan to do with the data prior to analysis so that you don’t get subsumed by analysis process. It’s so easy to stare down a wall of Google analytics data and have no clue where to start.

By starting with a question, and knowing what you’ll do with the answer to that question, you have a very specific task and a clear outcome. This focuses your analysis and ensures that the time you spend will deliver insightful results that optimize your business.

If you take nothing else away it’s this: knowing the action makes analysis easier! It keeps you sane and saves you hours of endlessly poking around your analytics, with nothing to show for it. QIA works!

Ask these questions to test the health of your Google Analytics

This is the fifth in a series of articles on growth hacking, which I’m going deep into with a minidegree in Growth Marketing from the CXL Institute. Read more: What is growth hacking? | How to run a successful growth marketing experiment in six steps | How to identify the best channels for your next growth marketing campaign | What the FUD?


Analytics are complicated. And rightly so: There are many different factors in channels that go into influencing people to visit your site, engage further and potentially become a customer — or at least sign up for your newsletter.

But when was the last time you checked up on your Google Analytics? Just because it set up and seems to be working doesn’t mean that it is accurate and reliable. Mini analytics configurations we never set up correctly to begin with or did not evolve alongside new features and functionality.

If you want to do growth hacking right, you have to measure it. And if your measurements are off, at best, you’ll be aimlessly hacking away with little to show for it. At worst, You’ll be acting on the wrong information and potentially doing harm to your business.

A proper analytics configuration gives you what you need to confidently make both marketing and site optimization decisions.

During his session on Google Analytics, Peep from Conversion XL shared a few key questions. I’ve riffed a bit here, but the gist is the same: Use these questions to begin evaluating the health of your Google Analytics. It’s by no means comprehensive but it gives you the structure to get started!

#1: What are the business-moving metrics?

When it comes to your website, the reason for analytics isn’t to just show you who comes to your site and how long they stay. Those are mostly just vanity metrics, in service of the real goal of analytics: to track the metrics that influence actual business outcomes…so you can improve those metrics and make your business better.

To do proper tracking, you must have your goals, funnels, event tracking and ecommerce tracking set up correctly. Not every site needs all four of these; But at the very least, you should have goals set up so that you can track how are you doing at getting potential customers and existing customers to complete the goals that move your business forward.

  • Goals: Goals are conversions that tied to business objectives. It could be a completed purchase, a newsletter sign-up or
  • Events: Events are things that impact the user journey but aren’t directly correlated to a conversion, such as a video of you.
  • Funnels: Funnels tracks event completions to help you visualize how well you’re doing at moving prospects towards conversion.
  • eCommerce: eCommerce tracking allows you to attach an actual cart value to each visit so that you can optimize with an actual dollar figure attached.

#2: Does it collect the data we need?

Once you know which critical milestones you want to be tracking, you can work backwards to see if the installation is collecting the data you need. It’s quite possible that something is broken or that you have not fully set up the right tracking functionality.

And don’t go overboard. The goal isn’t to collect everything under the sun. You want to be very strategic and tracking the data that moves your business. Since analytics configurations can capture everything in a firehouse, you can always go back and create a new view if you determine you need something additional.

#3: Do we trust this data?

If something doesn’t look right, then it probably isn’t right. And just because something appears on the dashboard in your analytics doesn’t mean that it is true. It’s important to be skeptical And listen to your intuition. If anything seems off, investigate further!

One of the easiest ways to determine level of trust is to cross-reference data from your analytics system with the data source elsewhere. For example, if an advertising campaign says that it sent 1000 visitors to your website but you only registered 200, then that’s something to investigate. You can also look for any dramatic outliers, such as a page with no bounce rate or a segment that seems to convert far more highly than another.

#4: Where are the holes?

At the outset, this one can be quite tricky. But as you dial into your essential business metrics, holes may appear. You may realize that you are unable to view data in your analytics from your Facebook ads, for example. The more specific can be with the milestone metrics you want to track, the more control you can have over patching gaps in your analytics configuration.

One way to identify holes is to view your analytics through the lens of your corss-channel marketing plan. Are there any areas that you don’t have visibility into that will directly impact how you can evaluate the performance of your plan? Start there!

#5: Is anything broken?

Not everyone is an analytics maven and that can understand how the sausage is made. The idea isn’t to know how things work. Rather, it’s about having the confidence to understand when something may be broken and not registering correctly.

As I mentioned earlier, it comes down to understanding analytics and not hesitating to investigate something that does it doesn’t quite seem right. The worst thing that could happen is that you waste a little time or maybe look a little silly. But in my view, thoroughness is never silly. There’s an added benefit here, especially when working with contractors: Vigilant customers always get a little bit more attention than those that are hands-off…

#6: Do I have the right reports?

The final question is to make sure that you have set up the right reports for your specific business needs. Since you can share reports with other people on your analytics configuration, these reports can provide a shared baseline for everyone.

And as you can imagine, share reports can influence others and increase the visibility of the work that you were doing as a conversion-minded marketer.

BUT…Shared reports can also magnify mistakes in analytics configurations. Setting up your reports should be the last stuff that you do, once you are certain that things are good to go.

Finally, be sure to revisit your settings and general configuration set up every few months or so. That way you can catch anything that may have changed or shifted. You can’t predict what the ghost in the machine will do so you have to check in every once in a while!

Audit your analytics with this checklist and these guides

As you move from answering the foundational questions to identifying specific things to fix in your analytics, use this checklist from Annielytics. It features a long list of specific settings to verify so that your analytics is set up correctly.

Annie’s spreadsheet is so helpful!

For more reading on Google Analytics, check out these ConversionXL guides to Google Analytics 101 and Google Analytics 102. Proper analytics configuration is one of the best investments you can make!