Why you should be using Google Analytics
I have to admit, I’ve never been any good at maths. At school, I positively loathed the subject. But, ever since I studied for the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Diploma, it’s fair to say that I have become obsessed with business figures and statistics.
Most people consider marketing to be a creative, arty-type pursuit, but, it’s far more science-based than you’d think. Part of the CIM training includes learning to read a balance sheet and a P&L statement.
One thing I always set up for my clients is a dashboard. Inside the dashboard are the critical measures needed to identify which marketing activities are most successful and where there are ‘holes’ in the marketing programmes. The data for this comes from the business’s accounting processes, social media platforms and, most importantly, by using Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is your secret weapon for measuring the success and return on investment delivered by your website. And yet, amazingly, lots of small business owners don’t have it set up on their site, and rarely check the data.
There is a huge amount that can be learned from examining the analytics on your website, and these seemingly random and overwhelming numbers are, in fact, a great way to set the objectives for your marketing plan. Geek that I am, I’m pootling about on there almost every day.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, if you already have it running on your own site, you can play along. Log into Google Analytics, and head to the audience section, then click on overview. It should look like this:
You can change the date range that you want to see on the top right. In this example, I have set the date range to a week. I use 3 key statistics from this page to keep track on my own business, and that of my clients. Here they are, along with a few notes on how you can improve your own vital statistics.
So many numbers! Which should you track?
1) Total Sessions and % New Sessions
You can see that in my example, there were 85 sessions on my site during this particular week. I’m no BBC.com, but I’m quite happy with that for the time being. While I’m tracking the number of sessions, I also keep an eye on the percentage of these that are new sessions. This is a key indicator of how many people from outside my existing audience I’m appealing to over time.
I always aim to keep this above 50% because that means my audience is always growing. If it drops down, that means that the majority of people on my site have been there before (which is lovely) but not helping me to find new prospects. If that happens, it’s time to up the levels of online promotion of my content.
2) Average Session Duration and Pages per Session
This is a key indicator for how long people are spending on your site. The more time they spend on your site, the more engaged they are with your brand. And, the more likely they are to want to buy something from you. It’s important to try to keep this number as high as possible. If you track this every week, you will soon see a trend developing.
If you want to increase the time that people are spending on your site, increase the frequency with which you are adding new content, improve the value that you are adding on your site for readers from your dream client segment, and introduce more backlinks to other articles within each page. This helps to create a natural pathway for readers to follow, and keeps them moving from one page to another.
3) Bounce Rate
The bounce rate refers to the number of people who arrive at your website and immediately leave without visiting any other pages. I’m very happy with this number (7.06%) as it is relatively small.
Ideally, if you are trying to sell from your site, you want to keep your bounce rate low. If you have a high bounce rate, it’s worth drilling down into this figure. The number on this page is an average of the whole site, and it could be just one page that is skewing the numbers higher than they would be without the rogue page included.
If you have a persistently high bounce rate across your whole site, or to your home page, you need to figure out why your audience isn’t finding what you have to offer of interest. Could it be that your content just isn’t very good? (Sorry.) Or, could it be that the people you are attracting to your site are coming here by mistake, when they are, in fact, searching for something else. This could be happening if the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) isn’t optimised on your site.
For more information about improving bounce rates, visit the google advice page.
Once you have these three basic figures worked out, there are lots of other useful bits and pieces you can use to measure your website’s success. You can investigate where your readers are coming from geographically, how they are finding your site, which pages they are most likely to be reading, the path that they are taking through your site, etc, etc.
If you need help using Google Analytics, working out a dashboard for your business, or improving the quality of the content on your site, why not book yourself in for a free, no-obligation marketing review?
You might even get to see the super-geek I have hidden within.