How do you know if your online marketing is working? What are you using to track and calculate the ROI of your online marketing efforts? The answers to these questions may not be simple, but Google Analytics should be part of the equation. However, for many small business owners, the mere mention of terms like analytics and data related to marketing online can seem overwhelming.
Google Analytics is a tool that allows you to track traffic to your website, see where it’s coming from, what brought it there, and how visitors behave after arriving. When you better understand how your marketing is performing and which marketing efforts are producing more leads, conversions, and sales, you’re able make more informed decisions about investments of time and money in your marketing.
With information that you gather from Google Analytics, you can assess whether your social media strategy is effective, which blog topics are favored among your readers, which landing pages get more sign ups or buyers, which search terms are most popular, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
By diving into the data GA tracks, you’ll be able to gather important insights about your site visitors; and the more comfortable you get working with Google Analytics, you will see that the data offers a wealth of information to refine your marketing strategies and optimize results.
To start making sense of Google Analytics, you’ll first need to become familiar with the 4 main reporting sections:
Audience reports provide an overview about your site visitors and specific information about their demographics. You will be able to gather details such as age, gender, precise geographic location, and language. You will also be able to learn which affinity categories your site visitors fit into, meaning the types of interests and lifestyle they have, based on their search history. Examples of affinity categories include music lovers, avid investors, or gamers. Audience reports will also provide information on the behavior of your site visitors, such as how frequently they visit your site, what technology they use to access your site, and how long they remain on your site.
Overall, the audience reports are useful to determine whether you are reaching the correct target audience. If your ideal customer is a man over the age of 50 in the U.S. who is an avid investor, but you are primarily attracting male gamers under the age of 30, you’ll want to adjust your marketing and content strategies.
The acquisitions section reveals how visitors ended up on your website; so you are able to see the origin of the traffic that landed on your site. The main categories in the acquisition reports section include organic search, social, direct, referral, display, and paid search. Organic search refers to the traffic driven to your site by the words users entered into a search engine to find your website. Social refers to traffic driven by social media, and you can see whether traffic originated from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or any other social channel. Direct refers to traffic generated by someone typing your domain name into the browser. Referral refers to traffic that came from a website that linked out to your website. Display and paid search refer to traffic driven by Google Ads.
Knowing where your traffic comes from allows you to make decisions about where to concentrate your marketing efforts or how effective those efforts are. For example, if you are spending a large budget on Google Ads, but the majority of your traffic is coming from organic search, you should either concentrate on your blogging efforts and reduce your ad spend or refine your ads strategy. If you are spending a ton of time on Facebook but you are getting more traffic from Pinterest, consider scaling back on Facebook to concentrate more on Pinterest.
Behavior reports reveal critical information about your content — more specifically, how well your content performs and how your content drives users to behave. In the behavior report, you will see which pages produced the greatest number page views and how users navigated from one page to the next. Are most people arriving on your homepage first? Are most visitors arriving through blog posts, and if so what topics? Are visitors clicking from your blog posts to a call-to-action opt-in page or a contact page? When someone reads one blog post, are they likely to navigate to another post or download some additional information?
The more you know about how visitors are using your site, the more you can adapt your site to enhance your website’s effectiveness. For example, if you notice a lot of people are landing on your homepage, navigating to your about page and then clicking away, perhaps you need to revise your company overview or personal bio, or maybe you need to add a call-to-action on that page. If your blog posts about a certain topic attract more pageviews, consider writing more posts about that topic or possibly even refining your offerings to meet prevailing interests.
Conversions reports are for somewhat more advanced use and provide more customized information than the behavior report. When you’ve set goals within Google Analytics, the conversions section provides data specific to those objectives. For example, if you have an opt-in offer, you can set a goal for driving visitors to the download or thank you page. You’ll be able to analyze the user actions that lead to reaching that goal, user demographics of those who reached the goal, and even assign a dollar amount to achieving each conversion goal.
Using conversion reporting allows you to drill down into behavior and see who is taking action. Are you getting more opt-ins from returning visitors or new traffic? Are more people buying on desktop than mobile devices? Are fewer people in your target demographic clicking through to the next page than you would like? All of this information can be found by utilizing goal setting and the conversion report; and all of this information can be used to make informed decisions about your marketing.
Becoming more familiar with Google Analytics will enable you to become more effective in your marketing and ultimately achieve better results. You don’t have to be an expert in GA to peruse your data and begin to make sense of what’s working and what isn’t. Getting up close and personal with your data will prevent wasted time, allow you to correct or tweak your efforts, and learn more about your customers. It’s a free tool, and it’s free to learn more about it
Need help making sense of Google Analytics for your WordPress website? Give Solamar a shout!