One of the many benefits of digital marketing is how transparent and measurable your activity is. Being able to understand the success of your activity means that you can demonstrate your return on investment and learn lessons from previous activity.
Google Analytics is an excellent source of such data – but it can be overwhelming with so many different views and metrics to choose from. So, I have produced a quick guide to the most common areas of Google Analytics. This is a deliberately limited guide and is for people new to analytics: Googler Analytics is capable of a lot more, but I think a firm grasp of the basics is essential. Here are the key areas using the options in the left hand column:
This section looks at what is happening on your website in real time. For example, you can see where people are coming from, how many people are on the site, which pages they are seeing, etc. In many cases, this level of information is interesting but difficult to react to. However, if you are running an event tracking activity or you’re looking to see the immediate impact of an activity, it can be useful.
The overview is a really good place to get a quick overview of your website – it shows sessions, users, page views, pages per session, average session duration, bounce rate and % of new sessions. There are two particular reports within Audience which may be interesting. The Geo report shows where in the world people are visiting from – this can be viewed by country or by city. Also, there is a really handy comparison of user device within Mobile. This is a good chance to see how your website is engaging users whether they are on desktop, tablet or mobile.
This section takes a look at where your traffic is coming from – particularly important if you are running activity to drive traffic to your website. For example, there is an AdWords section which allows you to link your AdWords and Analytics accounts. This will enable you to look at the engagement on-page at keyword level, invaluable. The gateway to finding out more is the Channels report under All Traffic. You can click through on each of the channels to see more, e.g. clicking on social media will allow you to see the metrics by each social network.
The Behaviour section looks at metrics from the website’s perspective – namely, by looking at the performance of pages and sections of your website. The Site Content section and its sub-reports allow you to see what content is being looked at – and how interesting it is to your audience. You can look at the pages by total number of visits (All Pages) or by following the structure of your website. For example, if your URL is example.com/product/widget1/pricing then you can see how many people visit the product section, the widget1 section, etc. Also in Site Content is Site Search – this allows you to see which terms are more commonly searched for on your website and as such what your visitors want to see but can’t find.
If you have an online form, you can track the number of conversions made on your website. But more interestingly, you can tell when they happened and where the visitor came from – e.g. if they visited from Facebook when they made their enquiry. While this only measures last click (attribution data is held elsewhere), it is a nice feature.
You really can spend hours and hours looking through Google Analytics, looking at all manner of measures. But before you even start your campaign, you should have a clear definition of what success looks like – and just investigate those metrics.