As you will know by now, a website is not just something you create because “everyone has a website.” It is a powerful marketing tool that can draw in traffic, create leads, create customers out of leads, and help make your business more profitable. But having a website is not enough on its own.
Businesses that not only make sales but also know how to analyse why and how they make sales and from where and whom, are going to be far better resourced and informed when it comes to making good business decisions. If ‘things happen’ in your business but you don’t really know or understand the underlying factors, you are probably just going to flounder along, hoping for the best and leaving it largely to chance.
So the more useful and relevant information you can gather about how well your website is performing – for example when it comes to attracting visitors and holding their interest, determining where they are coming from, who is purchasing what and so on – the better informed you will be to make decisions for the most beneficial outcomes.
Enter Google Analytics!
Google Analytics (GA) is a free tool you really need to take advantage of to track the performance of your site. It comes with an array of data-rich reports and graphs that can enable you to determine where your site needs improvement and in what ways. There are standard reports you can access, custom reports you can create, and pre-defined custom reports to make it easier.
Examples of some of the questions GA can answer:
- How many visitors your site has.
- How visitors came to your site – whether it was through organic search, social media, email, other sites, pay-per-click and so on.
- The number of views a page gets and the average session time.
- Visitor bounce rate – i.e. the percentage of visitors who leave after viewing a single page.
- Site exits – similar to bounce rate but on a site (rather than page) basis.
- Whether users are landing at the location they expect or if they have to do more searching to find what they want.
- Tracking of sales conversions, including the paths users took to get there.
- Location of visitors – for instance you can hover the mouse over a region on a map to see how many visitors came from there.
- Demographical information of users – such as age, gender, location and language, and how often they visit and what they do when they visit.
- What your most popular pages or blog posts are.
- Total revenues from particular sets or subsets of customers.
- Determining what people are looking for on your site when using the search box (if your site has one).
- Testing the effectiveness of your marketing methods and calls-to-action.
- Analysing how users interact with, experience, and use your site.
- Whether slow page speed is sending visitors away.
What does it all mean?
Of course it’s not just about the information you gather but how you make use of it. The best thing to do is to gather the stats and data you want in a format you can understand so you can analyse it and made good strategic decisions.
In addition to asking questions of GA you need to ask questions of yourself, such as:
- What can you do to prevent users from leaving quickly from the landing page?
- Are your calls-to-action effective, and if not, why?
- How easy is your site to navigate around and what can be done to improve it?
- If the landing page has a high bounce rate –why is this the case? For instance does it have poor layout, low-quality content, or is it hard to use or too slow to load?
Asking these questions can allow you to experiment with changes to your site and compare results from previous ones to determine what works and what doesn’t.
With GA you can also use specific tools such as Google Experiments, which allows you to create different versions of a page and test them out to compare results. Elements you can test include headlines, headers, images, text, calls-to-action, and page layouts. You can test only a few elements or a lot, and just single pages or your whole site.
The more you understand how users respond to your site the more able you will be to make decisions to improve their experience and increase your traffic and sales conversions.
How to set up on GA
Setting up is relatively easy. Basically, you sign up, obtain a Tracking ID and your tracking code, and set goals (up to 20) for what you want to achieve, and go from there.
If you need more help in setting up on Google Analytics or with small business website design and implementing your GA findings, speak to a professional.