Welcome to measurement Mondays, our opportunity to share some best practices, educational information and talk about all things related to measurement to start your week. In this week’s measurement Monday post, we will be reviewing some of the different metrics used when evaluating a website’s analytics.
This post will focus on Google Analytics, one of the most commonly used site analytics tools, can measure what seems to be infinite amounts of data from visitor activities to demographic data to device information. It can be used to measures visits, visitors, page views, referral sources, conversion paths, entry and exit pages, bounce rates, user locations and page flow. In fact, Google can measure so much and allow you to create completely custom, granular reports, that it can be overwhelming. There are other analytics platforms that offer complete measurement solutions, but can be quite pricy.
To keep your analysis focused, measure initially around the four pillars of Google Analytics:
Google Analytics audience reports can provide insight into a number of characteristics about the people visiting your website.
One of the easiest metrics to review is the demographics of your audience such as age and gender. This demographic data allows you to tailor your content and site design to the preferences of your primary audience and create alternative content for secondary audiences. Take this information with a grain of salt as it’s Google’s interpretation of user demographics based on information they obtain from their logged in user base. Additionally, this information is not in the core tracking script, you have to add a snippet of code to the tracking script and enable these reports from the admin console.
Geographic information such as location and language lets you localize your content to and attract high-conversion users who speak various other languages or who might value different types of information. This is great data for audience segmentation by location; country, state and city. If you’re a local business, you can find out where your website visitors are coming from and market to those areas.
The audience report also enables you to gather insights about your users interests using what are called Affinity Categories and In-market Segments. By knowing what your visitors are interested in, your content can be targeted to pull them into and through the buying funnel.
Another important aspect of the audience report relates to technology. While you want your site to perform equally well across platforms, sometimes, websites are more fully functional within certain technology parameters. Knowing what browsers, operating systems and devices your visitors utilize viewing/navigating your site allows you to focus your efforts on providing the best experience for those users. With a growing percentage of mobile users you can determine the impact your site has on this user base and if any changes are needed to your site based on the percentage of traffic coming from different types of devices.
Lastly, behavior is an important set of metrics within the audience information. Returning visitors indicate your site is “sticky” which means people enjoy your content and find the information valuable enough to return. New visitors indicate that your content and campaigns are driving users to your website.
Google’s acquisition reports, formerly “Traffic sources,” demonstrate where users come from when they enter your site and allow you to optimize and leverage the channels that contribute the most to your site traffic. Within Google Analytics, there are a number of sections in the Acquisition reports.
The overview will give you a quick look at your top channels such as organic, direct, referral and social media, displaying information about sessions, bounce rates and conversions.
You can then take a deeper dive into each channel within the All Traffic section. Within this section, the channels area displays more detailed information and allows you to dig further into the keywords that produced organic traffic, the most active referring websites and social media networks that direct the most traffic to your site. All of these allow you to refine your digital marketing efforts to maximize results across channels.
While there is information in the All Traffic section with regard to visitors from social media, GA presents detailed information a separate Social section that enables you to better measure the impact of your social media marketing and identify the networks that bring the most value to your business.
Campaigns tracking is one of the most valuable metrics offered in Google Analytics that allow you to track users who visited the site by clicking on links where you assigned UTM parameters to the link URL, essentially segmenting out specific referral data you want to actively track. These parameters allow you to assign specific information to URLs in order to gather detailed information about visitors who came to your site via specific links. You can find more information regarding campaign tracking here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033863?hl=en
The Behavior reports in GA allow you to assess how your visitors enter your site and engage and interact with your content. The information you can glean from the behavior metrics is second to none, but much of what is most valuable is not provided out of the box and must be set up as additional, advanced tracking.
Some of the best metrics live in the behavior section; page flow analysis where you can segment the traffic through your site slicing it by demographics, acquisition channels and many other advanced measurements is just one of the highlights within this section of GA.
The site content section gives more detailed information about how visitors interact with individual pages or URLs. This information tells you which pages are most popular as well as the pages that have the most engagement in terms of time on page. GA also segments information related to landing pages where people enter your site and exit pages where people leave your site. This information helps you determine the pages that are most likely to convert visitors and allows you to explore ways to keep visitors on your site longer.
Users want sites that load quickly and provide them with the information they want as soon as they want it. The site speed section indicates how well your site is performing and helps you identify ways to improve the user’s experience in terms of load time and server response time. For more detailed information on website performance read last week’s measurement Monday post: Analyzing your website’s performance.
While keywords have become harder to gather with Google’s encryption, GA provides site search data within the behavior reports that capture valuable keyword information as it relates to discovering what your users are seeking when on your website. The keyword data you can glean from this report is critical to assisting your site to gain organic rankings.
Additionally, in page analytics let you review any page on your website for user interaction measuring the link use on the page and where people are spending more time navigating your website. There is an advanced setting to use enhanced link attribution within the property settings in the admin panel, which will allow each link on a page to be measured independent of another.
The conversions section of GA allows you to create goals to track and measure the specific performance of various pages on your site as related to targeted objectives. Goals can be set up to measure session duration, a destination, like a thank you page or triggered events that may have specific value to the organization and other important website engagements.
By measuring goal conversions, you can analyze visitor data on pages leading up to that goal and assign monetary value for each goal and conversion, thus creating better ROI tracking. Goals must be set up in the admin section and can be complex so it is important to set them up and then test them to ensure they are working correctly.
Ecommerce conversion tracking is specific to ecommerce websites and requires specific code to collect transaction data such as product sales, purchase amounts and billing locations. If you have an ecommerce site, this data furthers your ability to tailor products to specific geo-locations or target your marketing tactics to specific high-performing products. Combined with multi-channel funnels, you can see how channels are working together to achieve goals.
This is a high level overview of the four pillars of Google Analytics. There is much more depth to each section and to the specifics of proper website measurement using analytics. Too much for a single post. We encourage you to do your own research to figure out what is needed for your business and website or contact us for an analytics assessment and we can help you maximize the potential of Google Analytics.