Are you missing out on the valuable data in your Google Analytics account?
In a recent Convirza webinar with Phil Frost, the COO and Founder of Main Street ROI, we delve into the topic of Google Analytics. His thought leadership has been featured in a wide range of online publications including Forbes, Inc., Mashable and AMEX.
In his presentation, Phil specifically discusses:
– Google Analytics vs. Other Analytics Tools
– The Proper Way to Set Up Your Google Analytics Account
– Which Metrics to Track and Why They Matter
– How to use Google Analytics to Prove ROI
Let’s start by taking a look at one of the key takeaways of this webinar:
The point of Google Analytics is not to simply monitor the amount of traffic that your site is bringing in.
Traffic alone doesn’t translate to leads, conversions and revenue.
Tracking the action that visitors take once they reach your site is the insight that will actually help you drive business. Rather than just monitoring your traffic it’s critical to track metrics that actually provide value.
There are quite a few different options when it comes to web analytics tools but there are many reasons to start with Google Analytics.
The first reason is that it’s completely free – and although some people equate ‘free’ with ‘poor quality’ it’s not true in this case. Google Analytics is one of the most powerful tracking tools out there.
It also works well with other tools and platforms, meaning that if you wanted to integrate another tool with Google Analytics (such as call tracking), it wouldn’t be hard to set up.
And since Google owns both AdWords and Analytics the two obviously work together seamlessly. Google Analytics will also automatically track social media traffic and help you identify the marketing channels that are producing leads and generating conversions.
Lastly, Google Analytics isn’t going anywhere. This may not seem very important, but it actually is when you consider that you could invest a massive amount of time and resources into another platform only to have it make unsatisfactory changes or even go out of business. When it comes to your data, long-term security is vital.
Google Analytics is pretty simple to set up and comes down to four main steps, which are outlined below.
1) Create An Account
Go to google.com/analytics and sign up for an account. Once you do this Google will give you a code to copy and paste onto every page of your website. If you fail to put it on every page then you won’t be able to track what takes place with that specific page.
2) Set Up Goals/Conversions
Not taking the time to set up goals is a big mistake. The whole purpose of using Google Analytics is to identify your top marketing channels and determine how to improve current results – and you can’t do that if you’re not tracking the conversions associated with each of your marketing channels.
This starts with defining what a conversion means for your business. For Ecommerce it would be an online sale, which is probably the easiest type to track. For service type businesses it might be form submissions, demo requests, appointments set and of course phone calls.
3) Build Tracking URLs
To access Google’s URL Builder, just go to google.com, type in URL Builder and it will show up as the first result. Once you click through to the page you just have to fill in the form with your webpage URL and traffic source and then give it a campaign name.
The URL builder will automatically spit out a code with UTM parameters. Google Analytics uses this information to identify the source of traffic, medium and campaign name, which makes it possible to really dig into to the data around these strategies. These tracking codes are great for email campaigns and other types of ad campaigns that Google has a hard time identifying.
4) Track Revenue
This fourth step is only necessary for ecommerce businesses that have online transactions. It’s fairly technical and may require a web developer to set up but once you get it installed you can begin tracking all of your revenue and calculating the ROI for each marketing channel.
After you’re all set up in Google Analytics you’ll want to figure out some sort of process for reviewing the data. The frequency will obviously depend on how much traffic you’re getting to your site and how much testing and changes you are making.
Google Analytics is really something of a marketing report card.
And without this report card, you really wouldn’t know if you were hitting your key milestones and identify areas for improvement.
You can also zero in on the marketing channels that are your best performers. Figuring out which metrics you want to focus on and analyzing the data around them is critical.
Let’s take a look at which metrics are the most important.
One of the first concepts to look at is the difference between aggregate and channel metrics. Your overall, or aggregate metrics, are not especially useful as marketing performance indicators.
Keeping track of your overall website bounce rate or time on site is not the best way to use Google Analytics. This doesn’t tell you what’s working and what areas you need to improve because it’s just lumping all the data into one stat. Instead of focusing on these broad metrics it’s important to track specific metrics around campaigns and channels. Here are a few examples of channel metrics that provide valuable insight:
– Organic Search Traffic Trends Over Time for SEO.
– Paid Search Traffic Conversion Rates for AdWords, Search Ads, etc.
– Referral Traffic Bounce Rates Over Time to identify content mismatch or compatibility.
– Number of conversions per marketing channel.
These are the types of metrics that offer the awareness you need to improve your strategies and processes. We need to look at user behavior with specific channels, pages and even devices in order to get the answers we need for optimization purposes.
Instead of digging into data all day long it can be helpful to follow these three steps to get in and out with the metrics you need.
1) Top Marketing Channels by Traffic
2) Top Marketing Channels by User Behavior
3) Top Marketing Channels by Conversions
We want to review the trends in each of these channels and analyze the landing page performance for each channel. This starts off with a high level overview and then diving into individual marketing channels and the specific pages that are tied to these channels.
The way that we access this high level overview is through the Channels Report. This report will give you an overview of all of your marketing channels and offers some pretty useful data.
Let’s start by taking a look at how to get into the Channels Report.
When you first log in to Google Analytics, you’ll see the navigation bar on the left hand side and one of the main navigation items is called Acquisition.
– There are two arrows pointing to the right that you want to click on.
– Then click on the All Traffic tab.
– Right underneath All Traffic is the Channels Report
Right above the report is a graph of actual visits and when you scroll below it you’ll see the table of your actual channels. This is the area that you really want to pay attention to.
This table outlines the channels that are generating traffic and conversions for the goals that you have set up. The default order of these channels begins with the most popular to the least visited.
So in this example, the channel that has generated the highest number of sessions is referral traffic.
The Acquisition column shows us the number of sessions associated with each channel as well as the new users that are visiting the site. In the Behavior column we can view the overall bounce rate and the specific bounce rate for each channel. It’s really important to look at the metrics for each channel rather than focusing on aggregate data.
By evaluating the bounce rate, number of pages per visit and average time on page for each channel we can hone in on problem areas and focus our strategies around the most effective channels.
The final column, Conversions, allows us to calculate the return on investment of each of these channels. Is paid search driving the bulk of your conversions or is it organic traffic? This type of data helps us optimize our time and marketing budget to get the best ROI.
Whether a conversion is defined by a phone call, an appointment set, a form fill or an actual transaction, it’s important to distinguish between the channels that are resulting in goal completions from those that are not.
Once you’ve run this report, you can click on each of these channels to dig out some more information from the individual channel graph. This allows us to see the trends around every channel over time to identify what’s working and what isn’t.
Another key report that you want to dig into is the Landing Pages by channel. These are the pages that users click through to after performing an organic search, clicking an ad or promotion, a link in an email campaign, etc. Essentially every channel will have a landing page and you want to review those pages to evaluate their performance and make improvements to drive down bounce rates and increase conversions.
In order to access this report, you’ll want to click on the behavior tab on the left hand navigation and then site content and then landing pages. The default setting will display all sessions but you have the option to segment your traffic.
By clicking on Add Segment, you can evaluate the stats for specific types of traffic and the resulting interactions with your landing pages. For example, if you wanted to only view the Organic Traffic you would check that box and click apply to see the stats for that specific traffic stream.
You can monitor the bounce rate across the site and the different landing pages. Pages with particularly high bounce rates need to be addressed to improve performance and the user experience on your website.
In short, this is how you can use Google Analytics to promote higher conversion rates, increase leads and sales and gain access to the metrics you need to prove ROI.