@andrewchen

Get the newsletter · 2018 essays (PDF) · Featured · Recent

Take the driver’s seat on web stats, don’t be a passive observer

What kind of web analytics package are you running?
Chances are, if you run a site, the only analytics you’re running is Google Analytics, or something equivalent. For most high-level traffic analysis, it’s Good Enough, but for anything else, it Sucks Bad.

The reason is that for most entrepreneurs, they have a small # of issues they care about, when it comes to their traffic:

  • Is their site growing?
  • Are users sticking to the site?

Problem is, beyond this high-level view, the underlying DRIVERS of these statistics aren’t available. The goal is not just to passively observe what’s going on in your site, but to understand the underlying variables enough to make changes and see what happens.

For example, let’s take a look at viral marketing metrics…

Are female users more viral?

Jeremy Liew recently wrote about the observed phenomenon that female users are more viral:

I recently spoke to the people who run a popular social network and they shared some of their stats with me:

1) In 2007, 56% of total signups were female.
2) Females are 33% more likely to invite friends than are males.
3) Females are 10% more likely to respond to an invite from a female vs. a male.
4) Males are 50% more likely to respond to an invite from a female vs. a male.

Definitely interesting stuff.

And it reminds you that if your business is based on viral marketing, and you don’t know who in your system is likely to be viral, it’s impossible to optimize for increasing your distribution. And that sucks.

Build custom integration to dig one level deeper
What you really want to do is to dig one level deeper in your traffic analytics so that you can start to make changes to the underlying levers. After all, you’re tracking this information not as a passive-activity, but as a way to adjust and optimize your business, right?

If you’re a video site, it’s not enough to just track pageviews – instead, you want to know how many comments are being left for each video. Or how many videos are being watched in a session. Or the difference in these stats between users that churn out, versus users and stick around. Or how many friends an average user has. These are all super-important metrics.

This is all the more important when you are dealing with ads. After all, a pageview is not a pageview, depending on whether it’s US versus international, whether it’s the 50th ad a user has seen or if it’s the 1st, and so on. The most specific your goal is (monetization versus growth versus retention), the more you want to tie your statistics to user-centric stats versus the generic stuff that’s available in any analytics report.

PS. Get new updates/analysis on tech and startups

I write a high-quality, weekly newsletter covering what's happening in Silicon Valley, focused on startups, marketing, and mobile.

Views expressed in “content” (including posts, podcasts, videos) linked on this website or posted in social media and other platforms (collectively, “content distribution outlets”) are my own and are not the views of AH Capital Management, L.L.C. (“a16z”) or its respective affiliates. AH Capital Management is an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration as an investment adviser does not imply any special skill or training. The posts are not directed to any investors or potential investors, and do not constitute an offer to sell -- or a solicitation of an offer to buy -- any securities, and may not be used or relied upon in evaluating the merits of any investment.

The content should not be construed as or relied upon in any manner as investment, legal, tax, or other advice. You should consult your own advisers as to legal, business, tax, and other related matters concerning any investment. Any projections, estimates, forecasts, targets, prospects and/or opinions expressed in these materials are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by others. Any charts provided here are for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon when making any investment decision. Certain information contained in here has been obtained from third-party sources. While taken from sources believed to be reliable, I have not independently verified such information and makes no representations about the enduring accuracy of the information or its appropriateness for a given situation. The content speaks only as of the date indicated.

Under no circumstances should any posts or other information provided on this website -- or on associated content distribution outlets -- be construed as an offer soliciting the purchase or sale of any security or interest in any pooled investment vehicle sponsored, discussed, or mentioned by a16z personnel. Nor should it be construed as an offer to provide investment advisory services; an offer to invest in an a16z-managed pooled investment vehicle will be made separately and only by means of the confidential offering documents of the specific pooled investment vehicles -- which should be read in their entirety, and only to those who, among other requirements, meet certain qualifications under federal securities laws. Such investors, defined as accredited investors and qualified purchasers, are generally deemed capable of evaluating the merits and risks of prospective investments and financial matters. There can be no assurances that a16z’s investment objectives will be achieved or investment strategies will be successful. Any investment in a vehicle managed by a16z involves a high degree of risk including the risk that the entire amount invested is lost. Any investments or portfolio companies mentioned, referred to, or described are not representative of all investments in vehicles managed by a16z and there can be no assurance that the investments will be profitable or that other investments made in the future will have similar characteristics or results. A list of investments made by funds managed by a16z is available at https://a16z.com/investments/. Excluded from this list are investments for which the issuer has not provided permission for a16z to disclose publicly as well as unannounced investments in publicly traded digital assets. Past results of Andreessen Horowitz’s investments, pooled investment vehicles, or investment strategies are not necessarily indicative of future results. Please see https://a16z.com/disclosures for additional important information.