The Internet has given us many great things, like instant food delivery and online shopping for almost anything.
For marketers, it’s been just as generous. Instead of guessing how many people visit your website, you can know for sure. You can also learn demographical information about your audience, like what their interests are, which form of technology they use, and their shopping behavior.
Analytics are a beautiful thing. That’s why Facebook and Twitter now offer their own built-in analytics right on their respective platforms.
Arguably though, the most popular analytics tool is Google Analytics. It’s free to use. It only requires a Gmail account.
It’s also pretty confusing at first glance. There’s so much information being thrown at you. Where do you even start? Which information matters most? What should you be watching?
We’re here to tell you. Whether you want more customers or you need to increase your ROI, these six metrics can help you get there. You can then use the information you discover to create more targeted marketing campaigns.
Speaking of your marketing campaigns, how successful are they?
How many new customers did you get? How many repeat customers bought your products or services? How’s your ROI looking?
It turns out you can answer all those questions and more with the campaigns section of Google Analytics.
Use the Google URL Builder.
Say you just paid to run an ad on Facebook. If you wanted to know how many views it’s gotten and how much money it’s made you, just copy the URL for that ad into the Google URL Builder tool.
Next, add more information about the campaign, such as the referrer source, the marketing medium (in this case, it would be an ad), the campaign term with keywords, the campaign content, and the campaign name (this is optional).
The Google URL Builder Tool will then generate its own handy URL. Share that URL as much as you can. As that URL gets more activity, Google Analytics will keep track of who clicked the URL, how they found it, and more.
So what can you do with this information?
Use the URL as part of your analytics for your marketing campaign. Track the amount of clicks the URL received. Then review the amount of sales you made during the campaign period.
Did more people click the URL than buy your products? Was it about an even split?
Next, look at how much money it cost you to run the campaign. Is this proportional to the amount of money you made back?
That’s a question only you can answer. Regardless, you now have a metric that lets you determine the worth of each of your marketing campaigns.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though.
Although it’s one of the most basic metrics out there, it’s still one of the most important. We’re talking of course about the number of visitors who check out your site.
Luckily, this is one of the easiest metrics to track. Even if you’re a Google Analytics beginner, you should be able to figure out how many people are visiting your site over a certain period.
You can actually customize that time period to be whatever you want, be that a month, a week, or a longer span of time. You can also compare visitor traffic to previous periods.
Let’s break down the various information you can learn about your visitors using Google Analytics.
- Unique Visitors — As you adjust the span of time you’re tracking visitors, your unique visitors number will change. That’s because during that period, these visitors were on your site one or more times.
- New Visitors — New visitors are different from unique visitors. These are brand new people who are seeing your site for the first time.
- Page Views — Are these visitors clicking your homepage or are they staying and looking at other pages? The higher your page view number, the better likelihood your visitors are perusing your site.
- Pages Per Visit — Don’t just rely on page views, though. Pages per visit tells you, generally, how many pages a visitor clicked during their site visit. If your site has only seven pages and you get a 5.50 pages/visit, you’re doing well. If your site has 12 pages and you get a 5.50 pages/visit, keep working.
- Average Time on Site — This is self-explanatory. Google Analytics tracks the average amount of time someone spends on your site. If they’re viewing more pages, they’re going to spend more time.
- Bounce Rate — If you are curious how many visitors clicked your homepage then promptly closed it out, check the bounce rate. Google Analytics calculates this as a percentage. The lower your percentage, the better.
- Demographics — You can also use Google Analytics to learn more about a visitor’s age and gender. Visitors ages 18 to 65+ are represented. You can view this information as a graph. Gender information is presented as a pie chart.
- Interests — By learning more about the interests of your visitors, you can create specifically targeted marketing campaigns.
- Geographics — Where are your visitors from? You can get specific locations by tracking visitor geographics. You can also learn the most prevalent languages spoken by your visitors.
- Behavior — What’s a visitor’s level of engagement? How often do they visit your site and buy from you? What’s your ratio of new and returning customers? This is the section where you find all that out.
- Technology — Keep track of which Internet network your visitors use in this section. You can even learn which browser and OS version they’re running.
As a marketer, you’re probably familiar with Google advertising service AdWords. You may use it currently. If so, you can sync your information from AdWords to Google Analytics.
First, you need to set up AdWords auto-tagging. You can do this in the preferences section of your AdWords account. This is just like the Google URL Builder we mentioned above. Google Analytics tracks the AdWords links that are auto-tagged.
You’re not done yet, though. Next, head to the Tools and Analysis section of your AdWords profile. There should be a section to sync Google Analytics and AdWords. If you have multiple Google Analytics accounts for any reason, you can sync AdWords with any of these.
Now, all the information you use on AdWords is visible in Google Analytics.
You can see which visitors clicked your Google ad, if they visited your website, how long they stuck around, and if they did any shopping. You can use that information to your advantage, creating even more targeted Google ads in the future.
If for any reason you change your mind about linking your Google Analytics account to your AdWords account, you have option to de-sync the two accounts. Go to AdWords, then click your account. Next, head to the linked accounts section. Click the associated Google Analytics account and remove it.
If you’re using the metrics we’ve listed so far, you know whether your marketing campaigns were monetarily worthwhile. You’re tracking your Google ad success.
You also know a lot about your visitors. But do you know where they come from?
With the sources metric, you can.
Just check out the sources section on Google Analytics. This tracks search traffic, referral traffic, and direct traffic. Each are calculated as a percentage and displayed as a pie chart. Let’s unpack those terms, even if it’s just as a refresher.
- Search traffic — These are the site visitors who found you via a Google search. Your site ranked highly enough that it was on the first few pages the visitor clicked. The rest is history.
- Referral traffic — If your visitor found your site via a link on social media, a guest post, or elsewhere, this is considered referral traffic. Referral traffic does not include search traffic.
- Direct traffic — If the visitor already knows of your company and directly typed the URL, congrats, you’ve gotten some direct traffic.
Which of these three traffic sources is most important? That depends on what’s important to your company.
If you’ve worked hard to increase your Google ranking, your front-page SERP status is going to pay back dividends. Your visitor traffic should increase. If you’re not already on the first page of search engine results, you need to change that.
Referral traffic is also very meaningful. This lets you know which of your marketing tactics is working best for you. If you’ve been focusing on guest posts and this is a significant source of traffic, then write more guest posts.
Similarly, if you’ve really worked hard to strengthen your social media presence, this should be reflected in your referral traffic numbers.
If these referral traffic numbers are a little sparse, you know where to refocus your marketing efforts.
Lastly, there’s direct traffic. This is admittedly hard to influence. If you’re a strong marketer, you sell quality products, and your ads have a far reach, you’ll get direct traffic.
5. Ecommerce Tracking
If you are selling quality products, you want to know who’s buying them. That’s what the ecommerce tracking metric is for. You will have to do some work to set this up, though.
Go to the Admin section of Google Analytics. Then, head to Profile Settings. You should see an Ecommerce Settings section. Set that up to start reporting ecommerce tracking.
Do know that certain ecommerce platforms work better with Google Analytics than others. PayPal is not one of them. Shopify is.
If you need a hand getting your ecommerce platform synced to Google Analytics, that’s okay. This can be a tricky process.
Once it’s done, then what?
Google Analytics now receives all ecommerce information from that ecommerce platform. This includes the amount of people who shop, how much money they spend, and what the best-selling products are.
You can use this information to sell similar products. You can also attract interest by offering discounts on best-sellers.
This whole time, we’ve been talking exclusively about website visitors, not website customers.
There’s a difference.
A visitor is just that. They’re just browsing around, seeing if they can find what they need. If not, they’ll move on to someone else.
A customer is someone who has already decided that your products or services are a good fit for their needs. They will hopefully come to you again and again when they need more of said product or service.
How do you make your visitors into customers?
You have to convert them.
To make the most of Google Analytics’ conversion-tracking possibilities, you have to be honest with yourself. Take a hard look at your company and its marketing tactics.
Which areas are lacking? Are you having a hard time attracting new leads? Do customers visit your site but don’t shop? Do you want more referral traffic?
Only you can decide which areas need strengthening.
You can then create goals via Google Analytics. What are these goals, exactly? They’re the weak areas of your marketing campaign you want to improve upon.
Once again, click the admin section of your Google Analytics profile. There should be a section marked Goals.
Add your goal, then choose the information you want to track, like the URL destination, the site visit duration, pages/visit, or an event (such as a grand opening or 50 percent off sale).
You can get more detailed than that, if you want. You can create a goal URL, adding a goal value to it. You can also make a goal funnel, which should lead to your goal URL.
So if you wanted to get more people to opt in to your newsletter, the goal funnel would include everything the visitor has to do to opt in. The URL would be an informational page about the newsletter, maybe with a free offer. Once the visitor opts in, they are taken to that URL.
The funnel is now complete.
Google Analytics can be very intimidating at first glance. It’s also a treasure trove of information. You can even tweak the tool so it presents even richer info.
While we discussed six metrics you can track via Google Analytics, there are many more. To get yourself comfortable using the tool, sit down for an afternoon and just play around. See what you can get out of it.
These six metrics are a solid starting point, though. By tracking your visitors, their ecommerce habits, and the amount of conversions, you can make smarter marketing decisions. These should lead to more money and more customers.