When business owners talk about analytics, they often are referring to web analytics. They talk about setting up tools such as Google Analytics or Adobe's SiteCatalyst to track page views, test variables and gauge their website's performance.
But they're missing the bigger picture. While web analytics are certainly important, they are only one type of metric that entrepreneurs need to know about -- especially when starting up.
Here are five other types of analytics you should be monitoring to discover critical information about your business, customers and marketing efforts:
1. Funnel analytics.
Your funnel analytics provide data about customer flow through lead generation, checkout pages, registration and other means.
While you can get basic funnel data from web analytics tools, specialized software can help you better understand your customer funnel. One is KISSmetrics, starting at $150 a month, and MixPanel, with a freemium option where you can track up to 25,000 events for free. These tools can help you understand how leads obtained through your acquisition and onboarding funnels are working out.
From studying your funnel, you can conduct tests and make changes to forms, buttons, language and more. Improving your funnel is one of the chief ways to enhance your bottom line.
2. On-site engagement analytics.
Beyond knowing how people get to your site, you should understand what they're doing on your pages. Where are they clicking? Where are they hovering? Where are they looking and perhaps getting confused?
This is where mouse-move heat map and click heat map tracking tools come in. Mouse-move heat maps show you were people hover and move across your pages. This information can help you learn whether users find your site intuitive. Click heat mapping tools show you visually the exact locations where visitors' cursors clicked on your website. This information can be useful in identifying usability or navigation issues.
Startups should use these early on so they can make any necessary website adjustments. Some handy tools include ClickTale, which offers both mouse-move and click heat maps and starts with a freemium plan where you can study up to 400 page views a month, and CrazyEgg, which focuses mainly on heat mapping and starts at $99 a month.
3. Customer analytics.
Startups often wait too long to survey customers and set up consumer feedback channels. But with customer analytics, you can learn about unfulfilled consumer needs and identify problems in your marketing, such as confusion over your messaging.
Try tools like ZenDesk, a customer-service platform that lets you respond to customer concerns across channels, track those concerns and improve communication. It starts at $24 a month. There's also SurveyMonkey, an online research tool that offers a generous free plan that's worth trying. Another is Qualaroo, a customer insight tool that starts at $79 a month and enables you to easily survey your customers for quick feedback on their experience with your website and other consumer issues.
4. Lifecycle analytics.
To understand the best ways to communicate with customers, you need to collect data on emails, newsletters, in-app messaging and more.
Consider using tools such as Customer.io, an email communication platform, that helps you first understand if your emails and newsletters are working and then enables you to easily edit them for improved performance. It starts at $75 a month. There's also Intercom, which starts at about $50 a month and can improve both communications and customer development by helping you identify and survey specific customer segments.
5. Marketing analytics.
When a startup begins marketing, it often pushes forward with the channels it has the most experience with. But that's a risky way to create a marketing roadmap.
Marketing analytics tools, which monitor, track and compare your marketing channels in one dashboard, can help you understand which approaches work best, as well as measure the success of specific campaigns. From there, you can decide how best to allocate your marketing budget and make better hiring decisions when ramping up your team.
To track and understand this type of data, you can try such tools as HubSpot, a marketing automation platform that helps you see all of your marketing channels in one dashboard view. It starts at $200 a month. Moz (previously SEOmoz) also just opened up a beta for their marketing analytics solution, which allows you to manage all of your inbound marketing efforts in one place. It starts at $99 a month.
In the age of analytics platforms, marketers are often overwhelmed by data. Reactively, we tend to rely on the tools and types of data we have loved for years, but that's a dangerous approach. Instead, we should take advantage of the many new types of data that can help us learn ever more about our customers and better meet their needs.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.