As a business owner, marketer or website manager, the metrics you rely on to provide website visitor insights will continue to change as more sophisticated tracking methods are developed. KPIs, such as pageviews and bounce rate, commonly used by marketers to evaluate performance have made way for more advanced analytics, even in the form of custom, action-based metrics. These deeper insights can help you tailor your marketing and website experience to your visitors’ needs.
Google Analytics presents a more even playing field for website performance insights. You and your competitors will have access to the same tracking and reporting capabilities that can help you capture and analyze your website’s greatest opportunities and threats. If you are responsible for website or marketing performance, you should be using Google Analytics. But if you are not using it, below are some of the things that you may be losing.
Without Google Analytics, You May Not Be Able To:
1. Effectively analyze your website traffic.
When you have reliable traffic data, including visitor sources, you will be able to make business decisions based on data rather than instinct. Like so many others, you may have previously thought that pageviews was the most important metric to know, and while this is extremely telling of the healthiness of your website and marketing efforts, it alone cannot tell you what is driving visitors to your website.
Using Google Analytics Acquisition reports allows you to track and segment your website traffic into simple categories, categories that you can even customize by updating your Default Channel Groupings. The Default Channel Grouping will distribute your traffic into the following categories:
- Organic Search
- Paid Search
You are able to further drill down into some of these categories by viewing the source and medium of your traffic while in each channel’s report, including specific marketing campaigns that you have associated with your promotions.
What do these segments allow you to do? What do they tell you? They help you determine which channels, sources, mediums and campaigns are driving traffic to your website, which can be indicative of a popular topic that your visitors are interested in or the sources that attract your target market. You might discover that you are receiving more social traffic than referral traffic (traffic coming from other websites with links that point to your website), or that LinkedIn is driving double the traffic of all of your other social sources combined, guiding your decision to invest more marketing resources into LinkedIn.
2. Turn customer insights into action for your business.
Without website analytics software, you may not be able to turn customer data into action that will improve your marketing efforts. Using Google Analytics, you should be able to answer the following questions:
- How did your previous customers find/ come to your website?
- What page did they enter on?
- How did they flow throughout your website?
- What did they search for on your site?
- What forms or assets did they convert on?
- What service or product pages have they viewed?
- Did any of your marketing campaigns directly influence them to click or convert?
- Have they clicked through on any promotional emails or social posts?
With the use of Custom Variables, you can segment groups of new customers and view their Channel, Source/Medium and Campaign metrics. Once you have grouped your customers, you can begin to answer the questions above by viewing the most popular sale sources and referrals. When you can identify sales-driving sources, you can strengthen this channel or even rethink your current marketing strategy to bring in more like-minded visitors.
Another way to determine the most popular sources of your conversions is to set up goals that track when defined actions have been completed by your visitors. The Conversions report will allow you to easily view the top Source/Mediums for goal completions. By doing this, you can quickly determine the leading sources for your specified visitor goals.
3. Understand user pain points and behavior to tailor conversion paths.
With the use of Google Analytics Audience and Behavior reports, you can tap into a wealth of data specific to your website users, including:
- Interest categories
- Original source and medium
- Visualizing how they flow through your website
- Where they enter and leave your website
- If they ever return to your website
- Site pages visited
- What and where they click
- Search terms they have used on your website
- Average time spent on page
- Online browsing and shopping behavior
All of the information above can help you increase customer or lead conversions by providing insight into what attracts your website visitors, who they are, what their pain points are, what their preferences and interests are and what ultimately influences them to leave your site (and possibly never return). By deciphering their behavior on your website and needs, you can begin to adjust your website experience and marketing message to cater to your audience and even create multiple audience paths throughout your website if you provide products or services to several buyer personas.
Without this detailed information about your website users, your marketing strategy will be left to a guessing game, which may be rooted in antiquated data or assumptions.
4. Segment user data based on common attributes.
The ability to segment your website visitors based on common traits can help you better understand different user preferences and behaviors. The Custom Variables report allows you to create your own categories of visitors and group them together. You can then compare these segments of your visitors, such as current customers vs. return visitors, to see how behavior and preferences are different.
Are you a local business? If so, you can use Audience or Acquisition reports to help you determine if your traffic coming from near your region or Timbuktu.
5. Track marketing campaign performance across platforms and channels to determine a more accurate ROI.
With the ability to tag URLs, you are able to track traffic across channels for each campaign you create. This will enable you to identify your most successful traffic-driving campaigns, how they perform on different channels, sources and mediums, and whether its overall return was worth the investment. Based on each campaign’s data, you can adjust your budget accordingly, either investing more in a successful campaign or less in an unsuccessful one.
6. See data trends over time.
Without analytics (and proper analytics tracking), you cannot observe data and visitor trends over time. Doing so enables you to find events or actions that have influenced change in your website traffic or user behavior. Reviewing year-over-year data can help you evaluate your website and marketing performances and identify seasonal trends.
Or, it could help you recognize a more stressing issue. Perhaps your organic traffic started to dip immediately after a Google algorithm update or a site relaunch – without viewing the historical website data, you may not be able to pin point the specific date things changed in order to identify the problem.
7. Identify and improve user experience issues.
Using the Behavior and Audience reports, you are able to identify site speed issues, pages visitors are exiting on, what types of devices, OS and browsers your website visitors are using to access your website. All of these can help you improve user experience by optimizing speed, content and design to accommodate your users, which, in turn, may increase the length of time they spend on your site, number of pages they view, number of visitors who convert and if they become a return user.
8. Integrate your analytics with other tools.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have all of your marketing analytics and website data in one place?
Google Analytics integration allows for you to gather analytics all in one place and view performance across platforms. Here are just some of the integrations available to you:
- E-commerce: Bigcommerce, Magento, Shopify, WP Woocommerce, WP OpenCart
- Webmaster Tools
Why would you want to integrate AdWords or your e-commerce platform? If you have them integrated with Google Analytics property, you can determine the leading traffic sources that are generating the most revenue and view customer activity on your website after coming from an ad, among other valuable information.
The Wistia integration, for example, enables you to track how long someone views a video, which can be more helpful to determine the quality of the video, if the viewer is actually interested in the topic and where people tend to drop off. This can lead the way for more content on the same topic or changes to the video content to improve user experience.
9. Set up goal tracking.
As previously mentioned, goal tracking can help you identify when website visitors have completed a certain action, such as filling out a contact us form or viewed a service page. Going beyond traffic, goals help you gather more detailed analytics about website visitor behavior.
The four main goal types:
- Destination URL – count conversion as users visit a certain page
- Time duration – track amount of time users spend on your website (e.g. >10 minutes)
- Pages/ visit – visited more than specific number of pages (e.g. > one page)
- Events – specific action that has occurred (such as playing a video)
These goals will help you identify leading sources that are driving conversions and signal that your website flow or marketing efforts are encouraging visitors to complete desired actions.
How to Set Up a Free Google Analytics Account
Are you ready to use Google Analytics? It’s never too early to start.
Have any questions or suggestions? Please comment below.