Once Google Analytics starts tracking visitors to your site, you have a powerful tool to report on how people interact with your website.
Google Analytics has multiple levels of data including real time and audience data. But for simplicity sake, we recommend you focus on the three key areas of acquisition, behaviour and conversion.
These three terms broadly relate back to the digital goals we discussed in our digital business model RESTART guide. Acquisition relates to the Reach goal. Behaviour relates to the Engagement goal. And Conversion relates to the Sell goal.
Acquisition tells you how consumers found their way to your website. Google Analytics will tell you if consumers found their way to your site though channels like social or search, or if they were referred by a link from another site.
This data lets you start to understand which channels perform the best to bring people to your website.
You are able to do this by placing “tags” into your digital media campaigns. These are small pieces of code, which send a notification to Google Analytics when a specific action happens, such as someone clicking on your digital advertising.
This data is important because it helps you build up a picture of what types of advertising message and channel deliver the best results for you. So, you start to move more investment into the stronger performing channels. And move away from channels that don’t work with your audience.
You should check the performance of your acquisition digital data on a regular basis – weekly or monthly – and use it to adjust your digital media activity accordingly.
The Behaviour section on Google Analytics lets you know what consumers do once they arrive on your site. There are some key metrics you should review regularly. These include bounce rate, pages / session and average session duration.
Bounce rate is the percentage of people who land on a page but then have no interaction with the page. They ‘bounce’ off the page and off the site. In most cases, you want the consumer to interact or engage with the page. For example, click a link or button, view an image or video, download a file.
If the consumer leaves without doing anything, it suggests you need to do some work on that page to make it more engaging. Bounce rates vary from site to site and from category to category. But as a rule of thumb, we would suggest a bounce rate over 60% is cause for concern. Anything under 30% is probably pretty good. And anywhere between 30% to 60% is the ‘norm’ – there will be opportunities to make it better, but if’s not a disaster.
Pages / session
The pages / session metric is helpful if you have a site that is designed to be an information guide. Or where you want people to be exposed to a broad range of content. The average session duration is similar. We’ve worked with some brands where the site objective was to build a relationship with the consumer, so that they chose the product at a future date.
Both of these metrics were helpful to measure the consumer level of engagement. They showed a strong correlation to future brand (sales) choice.
However, if your site is an e-commerce site where your focus in more on conversions, these might be less helpful metrics. They could for example indicate that products are hard to find or the site is difficult to navigate.
So, you need to have the context of your site in mind when analysing these numbers. As a baseline, purely based on our own experience, anything over 3-4 pages and 5 minutes would indicate a strong content site.
Again, you should check the performance of your behavioural digital data on a regular basis – weekly or monthly – and use it to adjust your website activity accordingly.
The final section in Google Analytics is Conversion. Here you can set up specific events or goals to track. These are specific actions that the consumer can carry out on your website that you want to specifically track and measure.
These can be as simple as recording a sale on your e-commerce site. But they could also be more complex like people who viewed a page or added the product to their cart, but then did not buy.
And these conversion measures don’t always have to be sales conversions. They can be
reading a specific page or spending a specific amount of time on the site for example. Downloading a specific tool or registering to get an email would also be examples of conversion goals you could measure.
These types of measures will closely relate back to the business and marketing objectives you set as part of your marketing plan. So, it should go without saying that these are also measures you should track on a regular basis. And adjust your website and e-Commerce activity as needed.
We’d recommend getting used to the mechanics of Google Analytics as it’s a great place to start your journey on digital data and insights.
Larger organisations with complex websites and data set-ups do often to move on to other providers (Adobe Analytics for example).
But for most people starting out, Google Analytics is still the best place to start.