Person: I have an amazing website! It’s gorgeous, it’s got tons of pictures, it has amazing content! Everyone who finds it loves it! It’s the best website on the planet. No one else can top it, no one. There’s nothing more I need to do to it. But we aren’t seeing any long term, substantial increase in traffic.
Me: Okay, well let’s see. What is the page most of your visitors go to after the home page?
Person: I don’t know.
Me: Okay, what marketing techniques have you tried?
Person: Email marketing, blogging, social media, and videos.
Me: Which technique gets you the most leads?
Person: I don’t know.
Me: Do you use analytics?
Person: What’s analytics?
This conversation is one that I have had about a million times throughout my career. So for the sake of my sanity and those who work with you in marketing, I beg of you. Read this post. Because if I have to have this conversation one more time, I will lose my mind. And I assure you, so will anyone else who works with you to enhance your website.
What are Analytics?
Analytics are a way of evaluating your marketing efforts, your website, basically any traffic that comes through your business. It’s sort of like traffic control: it figures out where all of the people are coming from and records it to establish patterns. For instance, I cannot recommend that you drive through Boston on a Friday afternoon between Memorial Day and Labor day if you are heading south. Why? Because every single person in the state has the same destination- Cape Cod. So if you are trying to avoid sitting in four hours of traffic, take the back roads. Analytics for your business do the same thing.
What do Analytics do?
If you send out an email blast that has an eBook in it describing a frequent problem in your industry and how to combat it, you might get an onslaught of downloads because people want that information. But you may publish a blog article on the same topic a few months later and get zero clicks. And you’ll probably wind up scratching your head, wondering what gives. Analytics will tell you who is seeing what, who is clicking what, and what is capturing people’s attention.
Why do I need analytics?
A website without analytics is sort of like having the parts to build something, but no instruction manual. You have everything you need to build something great… except the knowledge on how to do it. No matter how awesome your website, content, marketing, or business is, if you don’t have the information you need to know where to reach people, it doesn’t matter. If no one sees your site and content, it is useless to you. So if your analytic efforts leave something to be desired, look into one of these programs! Your business will thank you.
How do you use Analytics?
There are several different program options. Maybe the most common is Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a really valuable tool because it’s a program (obviously) created by Google, which means that the search engine itself is telling you what people are clicking on, where they are finding things, and how Google itself views your site. It analyzes SEO and tells you where you can improve and where you are already easily found. Because Google Analytics is free, it may be a little less specialized to your personal business needs. But there are certainly other, more in depth options.
- Crazy Egg– Crazy Egg specializes in heat mapping and tracks your visitors based on clicks. Basically, it follows your visitors’ journey through the site, highlighting what caught their attention, and where you may need to add a little more oomph to your design. It’s main concern is usability, the user’s experience and how easy it is to navigate your site.
- Kissinsights– Kissinsights is by KISSmetrics. This one focuses on customized feedback from your website visitors. What makes it unique is that you can manage all the questions you’re asking customers in a simple dashboard, and your customer feedback comes in quick comments, which makes them easy to read and implement.
- 4Q by iPerceptions– This one is free which is a huge plus, but it also gives you an understanding of why people come to your site. It tells you what people are doing on your site and what they’re looking for, using really simple surveys that people are willing to answer. It focuses on these four questions:
- What are people on my website to do?
- Are they able to do what they are trying to do?
- If not, what’s stopping them?
- How satisfied are my visitors?
There are other options that you can use to approach your specialized needs, but these cover the big three: where is the traffic coming in, where are people going on your site, and what people are looking for.
Google analytics: it’s a powerful machine for companies. Used by 51% of Fortune 500 companies, it’s the best way to track your metrics and identify opportunities. As with any tool, though, you get out what you put in. With that in mind, here are eight power moves to make within your Google Analytics (GA) dashboard:
1. Turn on Demographics and Advertising Tracking
This is a simple yet commonly overlooked tactic. When you enable this, it signals to Google that browser demographic and interest data matters to you, because, of course, it does!
2. Identify your Crucial Success Measures
Success metrics are not one size fits all. Right now, most companies are tracking page views, new and returning users, bounce rate, and more. Those are all essential metrics, but what are the metrics that matter most to your business’s success? New sales? The movement of certain products at specific price points? Are you looking to increase traffic from a particular audience cohort? Newsletter sign-ups? Identifying these key success metrics allows you to improve or alter your forms to convert more leads and meet your goals.
3. Confirm Your Implementation
Over time, your site grows as you add content and pages. Often, however, companies overlook the tags for those new pages. To make your online presence as strong as possible, you’ve got to pay special attention to these.
Take a look at your tags. We’re human, so a typo or an added space in your URL can cause a tag to misfire – the same goes for duplicate tags. Have you excluded your internal IPs, so your testing and browsing don’t throw your data off? A little due diligence here will go a long way.
5. Take Advantage of Using Properties, if you Need Them
If you have separate sites or parts of your websites that warrant their own tracking and that you want unique views for, set them up as unique properties within the master account. This provides easier access and smoother tracking.
6. Set Conversion Goals
Not everything is worth setting a conversion goal for, but some things are. This is why we talked about setting your crucial performance measures earlier. Set conversion goals for the outcomes you want to attain.
While some conversions might have a value attached to them as the results of purchase, you can also set values for “softer” conversions, as long as you know their downstream value. With goals in place, you can also build conversion funnels that help you visualize the customer journey and take targeted steps to optimize it.
7. Use UTMs
UTMs (or UTM parameters) are characters you add to your campaign destination URL. Once added, they identify the source (Google, Facebook, etc.), the medium (banner ad, search, email, etc.), and the campaign associated with each click to the page.
Want to save yourself some time? Instead of creating unique landing pages, simply apply these elements to the destination and associate that URL with the corresponding component of your campaign. Google even offers a tool to make it easy.
8. Set Custom Alerts
As we mentioned, Google Analytics is a tremendously powerful tool. And it’s especially useful for watching your performance and trends over time, which means you don’t necessarily have to be in it every single day. To keep you in the loop, Google Analytics offers custom alerts that you can customize and configure to your liking.
Set an alert to remind you to celebrate your wins (you’ve hit a goal or closed a big sale) or to raise a flag that something isn’t right (critical pages aren’t loading or are throwing up errors, or a usually predictable metric drops suddenly). This is a great way to automate your site intelligence and take a slightly more hands-off approach.
Bonus: Design (or Borrow) a Custom Dashboard
Sometimes, the data that GA serves up can be overwhelming. You love the tool, but you just want to see the most critical, prescriptive pieces of data. Don’t worry, though. You can narrow your focus by using Google’s dashboards to display only the data that matters most.
In Google’s Solutions Gallery, you can choose from tons of dashboards that people have already created based on their needs. While the odds are good that you will find one that you can apply to your data, inThink is here to help if you need a more in-depth approach. Our team can help you customize your GA dashboard, define goals, and use UTMs and other elements to track your metrics and make your data work for you.
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