In the old days, you could tell how well a business was doing by evaluating foot traffic or counting the amount of cash in the register at the end of the day. A decrease in these 'metrics' meant something was off and it was time for a change. It's not that easy in the digital world, where you don't necessarily interact with your customers on a daily basis. Understanding Google Analytics can give your business an edge over the competition by taking the mystery out of doing business online.
The platform is easy to use, and best of all - it's free! Many businesses already use Google Analytics to track their sites' performance, so they know exactly what is working and what isn't. It provides a window into all of the data you need to make informed decisions about your web strategy. Here are some of the ways it can help you give your business an edge:
1. You know what your most popular products are
Using the Google Analytics platform, you can determine what your most popular products are by looking at which pages get the most traffic. Under the Behavior tab, select Landing Pages to see a list of the top pages that brought visitors to your website. The default settings show you traffic from the past week, but you can change this to see results from a longer time period.
If you don't see any product pages in the first few pages shown, tab through additional results pages to see how your product landing pages stack up. This will give you a good idea of which products or services are popular with customers, and which aren't performing as well. From there, you can decide whether you want to put even more resources behind your top-performing products, or invest more in items that aren't doing as well to give them a boost.
2. You know if people are coming to your site
We build sites and want to invest in them, but it's hard when we don't even know if it's an effective marketing tool. Google Analytics nails down the exact number of visitors you have on your site every day, every week, every quarter, or every year. You can even compare the figures over time to see whether your website is gaining traction, or falling behind.
Just click the Audience tab, and look at your Overview to see how many Sessions (visits) and Users (visitors) you've had. Again, the default time period is the past week, but you can change that to show any timeframe you prefer. This menu also offers a snapshot into the percentage of new and return visitors so you know if your website is mostly getting return visitors, or bringing in new prospects.
3. You know where visitors are coming from
Next, learn a little bit more about your online audience by looking where people are coming from when they're visiting your website. There are a few ways to slice and dice this data to get different insights
- The source
Go to Aquisition, then Overview, to see where your visitors are coming from. The results break traffic into three main categories: Organic Search (search engines like: Google, Bing, etc.), Social Media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.), or Direct traffic (i.e. people are typing your URL into the search box).
- The location:
Go to Audience, then down to Geo, then down to Location, to see whether you are getting visitors from New York City or Madrid, Spain. Location data breaks down where visitors are coming from, so you know whether or not you're successfully targeting your local customers, or whether you've got a following in another part of the country that you didn't expect. You can then look at which pages they view, and understand if a specific product or service is popular with people from a certain area.
- The device they're using:
You've probably heard that mobile search is on the rise, but perhaps you don't know if people are really using mobile phones and tablets to visit your site. Go to Audience, then Benchmarking, then Device to see just how many of your visitors are accessing your site on a mobile device. With this information, you can determine whether mobile strategies are an important move for your business or something that isn't a concern just yet.
4. You know which marketing efforts are working
Using Google Analytics data about the Source of traffic helps you understand which marketing efforts are driving the best results for your business.
If you're seeing the majority of traffic coming from search, this means your SEO efforts are paying off and you're targeting the right keywords. If you're seeing a healthy amount of traffic from social media marketing, you know that your Facebook and Twitter strategies are paying off. And if you're seeing a lot of direct traffic, you understand that your audience is already aware of your brand, and they are seeking you out specifically. Traffic spikes after an email blast show that people followed your calls to action and visited your website.
Once you have this information, you no longer have to follow your hunch. You determine, with hard numbers, that email campaigns drive the best result for your business, or that you're generating qualified leads from social media marketing.
5. You can track how much business you're generating
Google Analytics also helps you determine how much money you're making from your website. You can do this by setting goals under the Conversion tab. Assign a value for certain actions, such as reaching the "Thank you" page, which is triggered after someone completes a transaction, or submitting a Contact Us form, or creating a new account. If you know what these different actions are worth to your business, you can plug that information in and Google Analytics will show you how much value you're getting from your website visitors.
Businesses that are armed with data outperform the competition. They rely on data to back up their decisions, not gut instincts. They understand their customers and know the best way to position their products for success. If you're ready to stop operating in the mysterious world of online marketing and start using metrics to steer your business in the right direction, contact us. We'll be happy to answer your questions about how to use Google Analytics and how to set your business on the right path.
To learn more about how to improve your marketing strategies, give us a call at 661-702-1310!