It’s hard to believe Google Analytics turned 12 this year. For a little perspective, that was 2 years before the introduction of the very first iPhone, and right about the time Gmail was launching.
When it was introduced, the reviews were immediately positive, and the demand to sign up was so high, it actually crashed the service.
Over the last decade, a lot has been added to Google analytics, and it’s more than just a website counter. By adding insights, goals, and conversion tracking, it’s no wonder an estimated 50 million websites use Google Analytics today.
For the low, low price of free, it’s nearly perfect.
The best part about the software is the accuracy with which it ties your website analytics to keywords from the Google search engine. It’s something no other competitor can offer with the same level of access, and it’s made Google Analytics a powerhouse.
Now that 2018 is here, it’s worth taking a look at how you should be using analytics since it has evolved from a simple tool to help websites measure traffic.
If you’re a new user, or one that’s been using it for a decade, it’s worth taking a look at the features in today’s Google Analytics that will help you convert visitors, and find out what’s working on your website and what isn’t.
Use Audience Reports To Learn About Your Users
A lot has been made about privacy and tracking users on the internet. If you’re using analytics, you can cash in on this. The first step in understanding your audience is to know exactly who they are.
Google Analytics introduced audience reports a few years ago, but with the amount of info users are allowing companies like Google to track, there’s a treasure trove of information available in these reports.
Here are the highlights:
Demographics and Interests: This little piece of information is arguably the most valuable. Is your audience mainly made up for 18 year old males, or 30 year old females? Chances are you have a decent grasp on this already, but you may be surprised.
Location: Both local and national businesses need this feature. If you’re a small business, wouldn’t it be nice to know which surrounding areas people come from? If you’re national, which locations are weak, and why?
Active Users and Behavior: How often do people visit? What do they do when here? Are you engaging them more or less? All valuable info when creating new content.
Not only do you have access to the above info, but you can track each individual habits on your site. So even though you may get more traffic from males, it could be females spending more overall.
Goal and Conversion Tracking is Paramount
If you’re not tracking the results of each visit to your site, you’re missing out on the most useful parts of Google Analytics. That’s great that 100 people visited your site in the last hour, but what did they do?
You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so you’ll want to get this started ASAP.
First of all, goal and conversion tracking are not the same thing, but the principle is the same.
With conversion tracking you want to track things like sales, contact forms, newsletter sign ups and even phone calls. Basically anything that is considered converting a visitor into a lead, or a lead into a customer. The key here is that a user is doing something that takes them to the next level in your sales funnel.
Goal tracking is more about internal achievements. If your goal is get a certain number of visitors to a page, or to view a spec sheet, or to spend more time on a page, etc – then use this.
Here’s a great example of how to use these features. Let’s say you’ve launched a new service at your store. The ultimate goal is to sell that service.
You’ve created a blog post or product page to advertise this on your website. You’ve also created sliders, banners, main feature areas, and calls to action throughout the site with the aim of getting people to this page.
You can use goal tracking to set a goal and track visits to that pace to determine how many people are landing on the page you want them to see, and how they got there.
For conversion tracking, you may want a printable coupon, a contact button, or even just a link to your address. You can track all of these actions as a conversion to find out how many people the page has converted.
A goal would be getting them to the page, a conversion would be taking an action to move through the sales funnel.
Flow Visualization: Easy to See What’s Happening
This is an extremely easy way to see the flow of users on your website. Where they start, where they visit, and where they exit.
Since its introduction six years ago, Google has enhanced this product to offer a number of flow visualization options.
You can now visualize the flow for behavior, goals, users, events and more. In 2018, this is a prime part of any analytics data. It’s not just that visitors are here, but how did they get here, what did they do, and when and where did they leave?
All of this information is found in a flow visualization chart that easily allows you to drill down and get to the core of what’s working, and what isn’t.
Costs for Leads, Conversions, and Return Visitors
It’s really easy to spend money on advertising and just pray it works. Hopefully at the end of your year, the balance sheet is stronger than the year before.
However, it’s 2018, and the ability to target and track every advertising dollar is here, and you should be taking advantage of it.
Interested in getting in front of your next customers? Maybe we can help.
Google allows you to assign values to your traffic channels. It takes just a few steps up uploading your cost data (although AdWords is added automatically). Once you have it plugged in, you can generate a report to show you exactly what’s happening with your paid traffic sources.
When you pair this report with goals, it can be a very powerful way of learning what leads are worth pursuing, and which traffic channels aren’t working.
Return visitors are another key metric for 2018. Google using tracking cookies to determine users, and you can easily identify which types of users are doing what. The volume of return visitors is just as important as the overall traffic for the site.
Google Analytics will help you find out what’s bringing them back, and how much they’re converting – and why.