Google Analytics is a web analytics platform. It allows you to track and analyze the performance of your website and the behaviour of the visitors it receives. It’s a pretty big platform that might seem scary at first – but we promise it’s not.
If you want to improve your website, but aren’t sure where to start, Google Analytics – or GA for short – is it. This platform provides you with valuable insights that help shape the success of your business. There are great benefits in understanding how to use this powerful tool. This includes how you can use the overviews to understand your audience better. In this article we’ll go over the basics of 4 of Google Analytics sections and how you can use the main reports to elevate your digital marketing strategy.
Why should I use Google Analytics?
Think about your website as your business’ storefront. All the people who are ‘Googling’ a product or service just like yours are window shopping. They are looking for the most enticing door to enter. A shiny online presence is of the utmost importance for businesses to thrive – now more than ever. As such, being inquisitive about who your online visitors are (also known as your online traffic) and making sure you understand them comes in handy.
If you’re still wondering “why should I learn how to use Google Analytics?” the answer is simple: good data is key for a successful marketing strategy. Data based on user behaviour should be the main driving force behind your website’s updates. Both go usually hand in hand so there’s no need to worry about here.
Google Analytics helps you collect that data and gain actionable insights from your website’s traffic. This can include where your visitors are coming from (channels, mediums, source, referrals, paid channels), who they are, where they are, which keywords look most promising to bring you traffic, what pages received the most visitors – and much *much* more.
These metrics are valuable. They tell you loads about your audience’s behaviour as well as that of your potential audience. All of this should be leveraged to help improve your communication strategy.
Today nearly 30 million sites use Google Analytics. Yet, many site owners are still completely confused about what to do with their analytics.
How great would it be to see the message in all the charts and numbers to get to what really matters to your business? In order to provide a customer-centric service and/or brand experience the first step is understanding your customer base. And what better way to get to know them than to learn more about their online behaviour on your website? Well, read on. We’ll give you the down-low on some of GA’s standard reports – aka the holy grail for understanding your online traffic.
1. Audience overview
This is the Google Analytics section that provides you with the very first glance into who is visiting your website. In other words, audience overview provides data that displays a general profile of users who have interacted with your website. I.e. where they are located, what devices they use and how much time they’re spending on what web pages.
The Audience section of Google Analytics overall is quite extensive. There are no less than fifteen sub-sections. And most of those have several different reports within their drop down menus.
We won’t cover all of them in this guide. Instead, we’ll give you an overview and most importantly, what understanding your audience can do for your business!
The Audience Overview section displays a useful snapshot of the current audience metrics on your website. It includes information such as change in traffic over time, unique users, number of sessions per user, page views, average session duration, bounce rate and more.
Along with that, you’ll be also given other reports which provide insights on your users. Including the number of active users over a given period of time, lifetime value, cohort analysis, demography, age, the technology they use, behaviours and interests.
So… How can audience reports help your business?
Audience reports provide valuable insights on your existing audience. By working these metrics into your marketing strategy, you can better approach the audience interacting with your website to improve their experience. This will also provide valuable information on whether the customer you were targeting in the beginning is the right one.
Formulating marketing strategies based on your customers’ behaviour will improve your engagement with them. For instance, knowing how many new vs. returning customers you’ve had in the past month or who is buying vs. who is window shopping, will help you tailor your messaging and targeting accordingly.
Google Analytics helps you to better understand and adjust your website in order to increase your returning visitor count.
2. Customer acquisition
Now that we’ve covered the basics on understanding who your customers are, it is time to explore where they come from. In other words, how did they reach your website. This will empower you to plan your marketing activity accordingly. You’ll increase relevant traffic. The place to look for this wonderful information is the Acquisitions section.
The Acquisition report will provide you with the channels and sources that led your visitors to your website. This includes channels (aka social, direct search, paid search, referral, display or organic search) and which of your on-going campaigns are currently driving how much traffic.
So… How can customer acquisition reports help your business?
These metrics represent an overview of your marketing tactics, what’s working and what’s not. This will help you to understand what content your audience is enjoying the most and which marketing channels seem to be most promising for your business. By using this data to your advantage, you can update your marketing strategy and enjoy the many benefits of increased conversions!
From an SEO perspective, if some pages present higher bounce rates than the rest this can also serve as a tip-off. It might be worth analyzing why users are abandoning those pages and optimizing accordingly.
3. Real-time reports
As you might have guessed (the name gives it away), in the real-time section of Google Analytics you have the option to monitor activity on your website as it happens.
Through this metric, you can obtain information such as the number of people online on your website right now, where they are in the world, which device they are using, traffic sources, which pages they are engaging with, and which conversions have they performed.
Just don’t get too obsessed with watching the numbers go up & down 😉
So… How can real-time reports help your business?
This kind of report can be a great way of “taking the pulse” of your website. You’ll be able to track the response to specific campaigns in real time. The data informs you of how many people are currently on a specific page. This tells you a lot about your content’s level of engagement.
Along with that, by gathering real-time data you’ll be able to better understand when more visitors online and schedule content based on this pattern. . This will give your latest posts the boost of increased exposure.
By observing your audience’s real-time behaviour on your website you can also get an idea of how engaging your content really is. If people are bouncing off too soon, it might be worth thinking of different formats and ideas.
This also goes alongside alterations to improve user experience. For instance, let’s say lots of visitors land on your “contact us” page but a high number of people bounce off before ever filling the form. This could be an opportunity for you to test a more engaging call-to-action – which could improve your conversions.
4. Behaviour reports
Behaviour reports let you assess the performance of your content and the actions visitors take on your website. Or in other words, what pages people visit, and how they navigate between your site’s pages.
A couple of insights worth mentioning include the behavior flow. This metric illustrates the path visitors take on your website and site content and provides information on the progress of your content. In other words, top landing pages, top exit pages, and average revenue per page.
Other highly relevant information on behaviour reports include site speed (aka how long does each page take to load vs. ideal loading speeds), site searches, experiments – and more.
So… How can behaviour reports help your business?
Knowing how visitors move through your website and interact with your content lets you optimize your website performance and conversions. By observing specific aspects of your audience’s behaviour towards specific pages you’ll be able to more efficiently change what needs changing. This will lead to, you guessed it, more engagement and a higher conversion rate.
So as we can see, Google Analytics is a powerful tool. The platform gives us the power to better understand our users,and leverage the data in future website updates. When used in the right way we guarantee it’ll be a key ally for your successful marketing strategy.
GA not only provides you with extensive data on your online visitors but also pushes you in the right direction when it comes to website optimization.
By leveraging the knowledge you just learned here you can set your online business for success, improve your SEO and make both search engines & humans happy! So why not start now?