March 23, 2020
Google Analytics has become a core tool for most digital marketers. A recent survey found a Google Analytics tracker on more than 56% of all websites. In raw numbers, that’s more than 27 million websites, which makes sense considering just how important tracking success has become in the marketing space across industries.
Here’s the problem, though: countless businesses fall into the above category, but never leverage the technology to its full capacity. Data management and gaining tangible insights from analytics remain two of the biggest marketing challenges in 2019. It’s not enough to just collect data about your website; you also have to know how to action it.
The beauty of Google Analytics is that you don’t have to be an expert. With a bit of training and a few tutorials, you can set up dashboards that help you gain valuable insights into your audience. At its best, that data helps you make key business decisions that drive growth and revenue.
It starts with knowing what to look for. Keep an eye on these 15 metrics within Google Analytics, and you can learn core information about your audience, their journey through the sales funnel, and their behaviour as they navigate through your website.
What Google Analytics Can Teach You About Your Audience
Any marketer can benefit from audience insights. The better you know the people who actually read your content and could become customers, the more you can adjust to their needs and convince them to follow through. It’s no surprise, then, that GA’s audience tab uncovers information you have to keep an eye on.
At its most basic, you can gather information about the known demographics and location of your web visitors. Beyond that, it makes sense to dig deeper by focusing on these 5 metrics:
1) Total # of Sessions
You might consider this metric as simple as web visits. Google Analytics defines sessions as “group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame.” A single session might include multiple page views or actions within your site. It’s a crucial metric to gain information about the popularity of your overall site as well as its core pages.
2) Total # of New Users
New users help you dig down beyond sessions. A single user returning to your site five times equals five sessions. But it’s just one new user, making a consideration of sessions alone incomplete. By tracking new users, you can better understand your reach. GA only counts new users as those who have never been to your website before, allowing you to gauge brand awareness.
3) Number of Sessions per User
Combining the two above metrics gets you to sessions per user, or how many times each user tends to visit your website. Even if your goal is gaining new users, this should be a core KPI because it allows you to consider audience interest. A user who comes back to your site multiple times is clearly interested in your business and deserves further consideration.
4) Average Session Duration
Both of the above metrics help you understand your success in getting users to your website. But what happens when they arrive? Average session duration allows you to see how successful your website is in keeping them engaged. Improve it by improving the flow from page to page, offering natural next steps, and building content (like blog posts and lead magnets) that your users want to reach and engage with.
5) Bounce Rate
In web analytics terms, a user who leaves your website after seeing only the page on which they arrive is considered a bounce. In other words, it’s what happens when you fail at engaging your users. A high bounce rate leads to lower search rankings, and presents significant missed opportunities to engage your users.
Long load times, poorly constructed pages, and not fulfilling a promise you made with the content leading to the page can all contribute to high bounce rates. Regularly check each of your core pages for their respective rate to see where you can and need to make improvements.
How Google Analytics Can Help You Acquire New Customers
The Acquisition tab in Google Analytics goes beyond the basics. In addition to gauging simple information about your audience, it helps you understand their buyer’s journey toward becoming a customer. The insight found here is invaluable in leveraging your website to drive new business.
Each of the metrics above will remain relevant in your Acquisition reports and turns into a KPI you can consider as you look for potential improvement. 5 specific reports and metrics deserve further considering in that context.
Think of this report as the sources that lead to your website. You can use it to learn what websites point to yours, and the journey your users take to get there. You’ll find a number of popular channels:
- Direct traffic, from users who typed in your URL directly.
- Organic search, which are users coming to your website through a search engine result.
- Social media, likely from your own presence on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Paid social or search, denoting ads on each of the above.
- Referral, from other websites linking to yours.
You can add to that list through custom-set medium and source, using UTM tagging. Your goal here should be a relatively even pie chart that avoids too heavy dependence on a specific channel. Other uses include intelligence gathered for a website redesign or major update; if you have lots of referrals, you need to keep URLs live or at least include redirects to avoid losing significant amounts of traffic.
This includes both the devices and browsers your audience is using when visiting your website. It helps you build your website according to your users. In a redesign, you might be limited if most of your visitors use older browsers like Internet Explorer 11. On the other hand, a large number of mobile users indicates a need for responsive design to account for smartphone screens.
Conversions are one metric you have to define yourself. They allow you to track certain key actions your audience takes on their way to becoming a customer. The most obvious conversion is filling out a form on your landing page, but it’s far from the only one. For instance, the amount of time a user spends on the site, a specific page they visit (such as your pricing section), and the number of pages per visit can all count as conversions.
9) Goal Completions
Once you set up conversion goals, you can follow them using Google’s Goal Completions report. For your entire site as well as all of your individual pages, you can track exactly how successful your efforts are. You can also connect them to some of the other metrics above. For instance, you might find that that mobile users coming from organic searches are more likely to convert to leads, allowing you to spend more time and effort on that channel and audience segment.
10) Goal Value
This is where Google Analytics becomes both invaluable and complex. You can assign a monetary value to every goal you set in the above step, helping you better calculate ROI of your efforts. Most likely, this is an estimate.
For instance, if you know that 30% of your leads become customers and the average customer brings £1,000 in revenue, you know that a lead on average is worth £300. Assign that as a goal value for your lead conversion goals, and you can begin to gain invaluable insight. If your paid social ads bring in £4,000 in lead conversions but you only paid £3,000 for the campaign, you are looking at a positive ROI.
How to Understand User Behaviour Through Google Analytics
At this point, you might have noticed just how closely all of the above metrics interact with each other. The same is true as you dig deeper into user behaviour, particularly as it relates to individual pages. The Behavior tab in Google Analytics allows for in-depth page-level analysis through 5 important KPIs.
The name makes it obvious: this metric shows just how many times your page was seen in your defined time frame. Improve it through more direct links to the pages that matter most as well as search engine optimisation of those pages.
12) Unique Pageviews
Simple pageviews don’t discriminate, but unique pageviews do. A single user visiting your site twice will count for two pageviews, but only one unique pageview. As a result, this metric gives you a better idea of the true reach of your website.
13) Average Time on Page
How much time to users spend on a single page before moving on? This metric allows you to discern both value and relevance of your individual pages. Most experts now consider about 1,900 words to be the ideal length for a single web page. If all of those words provide actual value for your audience, chances are you’re keeping them engaged the right way.
14) Entrance Pages
Entrance pages are the gateway to your website. They’re the first touch of your audience with your online presence, which means they deserve special attention. If an entrance page doesn’t convey the basic brand information your audience needs to get started, you have some work to do.
15) Exit Pages
The opposite of entrance pages, exit pages are the pages your audience sees last before they leave. These require you to dig deeper. The exit point might be natural, such as the thank you page after a lead generation page or a pricing page that asks your audience to call you. Others might require some improvement. If a blog post with a CTA to more information is a strong exit page, some investigation into why your audience isn’t following your prompts is likely necessary.
Are You Ready to Leverage Google Analytics for Better Digital Marketing?
We’re just scratching the surface. Google Analytics is perhaps the most complex tool used by the majority of marketers. Even the above 15 metrics only give you a hint of the power this platform is capable of. Still, they’re a valuable start if you want to begin understanding the performance of your website, and how your audience interacts with it. Keep an eye on these, and you’ll gain valuable insight to improve your web presence over time and grow your business.
If you’re like most businesses, you’re probably already gathering the data. The question is what you should do with it. What improvements could your website make to improve user experience or convert more traffic to customers? Talk to us for a thorough analytics review, and how that might impact potential website modification. From an initial analysis to advanced techniques like goal and conversion tracking, we can be your partner in leveraging Google Analytics for better marketing efforts.
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