Researching products and services online has become a standard practice as studies have shown that nearly 100 percent of purchases, whether made online or locally, include an internet search at some point during the buying process. This makes it important for businesses to run an efficient online marketing campaign to ensure that their websites are attracting search traffic looking for their products or services to reach as many potential customers as possible. While many companies and marketing managers can implement some internet marketing strategies such as SEO tags and descriptions, blogs, and social media posts, the most challenging aspect of internet marketing is measuring the effects of these strategies. This is where Google Analytics comes in.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free program offered by Google that uses a piece of code that you incorporate into the code of your website to measure traffic to your website using a variety of metrics including page views, the most popular pages, time spent on the pages, bounce rates, and referral traffic from your social media outlets and other websites. It is the most popular analytics software in use and it is free which means that most companies can incorporate this software into their internet marketing campaigns.
How Google Analytics Helps Your Business
- Measures all online marketing activities: Every visit to each page of your website is tracked as well as the time that was spent on the page, other pages visited by the same user, the bounce rate of each page, and how the user got to your website. You can get these metrics for each individual page or for the website as a whole. You can also get demographic information about the visitors to your website such as age, gender, and geographical info.
- Invest and multiply on what works: The beauty of the amount of metrics available from Google Analytics is that it allows you to look at so many facets of your internet marketing campaign and notice which strategies are yielding the most results. If the traffic from your social media outlets is high, then your company’s social media strategies are doing well. By knowing which of your strategies are getting the best results, you can invest time and money into building up what works.
- Eliminate or refine activities that are not successful: As Google Analytics can show you the strategies that are working, it can also show you the strategies that are not working. For example, if your referral traffic from your social media outlets is low, then it is possible you need to adjust your social media strategy to attract more visits. Or maybe your particular audience does not heavily use social media outlets, in which case you may be better off eliminating it from your internet marketing strategy and focusing more time and money on the strategies that do show results.
How to use Google Analytics
Google Analytics keeps track of so many different metrics for each individual page of your website that trying to keep up with the numbers of every metric can be overwhelming and ultimately inefficient. The key to using Google Analytics effectively is to determine which metrics are most important for the purpose of your website. In order to accomplish this, you must first determine what the purpose of your website is. Is your website based on content? If so, the bounce rates and amount of time spent on the pages is an important metric. Does your website sell a product? If so, then you will want to pay more attention to the rate of shopping cart abandonment and how long it takes visitors to make a purchase.
There are reports available for every metric measured within Google Analytics and they are pretty easy to find for experienced users and users that are new to the program. The data from Google Analytics can also help point out an aspect of your website that is drawing attention that you may not have realized was so popular with your audience.
One of our clients is a company that provides insulation for buildings and recreational vehicles. When we first built their website and started doing their SEO, we noticed through the data from Google Analytics that people were searching for packaging insulation in addition to the other types of insulation they offer. At the time, this company did not offer packaging insulation but because they realized that much of their audience was looking for these products, they now offer a full line of packaging insulation projects with a separate website dedicated to just these products alone. This real life example shows the potential for Google Analytics to help you transform your business based on the data it collects.
Analyzing One Metric: Bounce Rate
Regardless of what the purpose of your company’s website is, one metric that every business should pay attention to is the bounce rate. When a visitor reaches a web page but immediately leaves, that is referred to as a bounce and the percentage of visitors that bounce from the pages of your website make up your bounce rate. There are three separate bounce rate metrics that you can check from Google Analytics; the bounce rate of a page, the bounce rate of the website, and the bounce rate of traffic channels.
- Page Bounce Rate: Each individual page of your website has its own set of metrics within Google Analytics including the bounce rate. Checking the bounce rate on individual pages can help you determine which pages are holding visitors’ attention and which ones have the highest bounce rate. If a particular page has a high bounce rate, chances are that this page is not delivering what most incoming visitors are looking for and should either be re-done or possibly even eliminated altogether.
- Website Bounce Rate: The website bounce rate is determined by the total number of bounces from every page of the website divided by the complete number of entrances from every page. This metric can give you a sense of how well your website is performing overall and point you to which web pages have the highest bounce rates. If your website bounce rate is consistently high across all pages, it may be time to rethink the content or redesign your site.
- Channel Bounce Rate: Channel bounce rate refers to the bounce rate of visitors reaching your website through an off-site marketing channel such as PPC, social media, or marketing emails. If the bounce rate from one of your marketing channels is high, that could mean that either your marketing channels are promising something that your website does not deliver or you are attracting the wrong audience through the channel. In either case, a high channel bounce rate requires you to adjust your marketing strategies on these channels, the landing pages on your website, or both.
Sometimes the web pages that have the highest bounce rates also get the highest traffic. This can be seen as a negative because ultimately you want whatever landing page that a visitor enters your site through to entice them to dig further into your website, but it could also mean that visitors found exactly what they were looking for on that particular landing page and had no need to look at other pages. Providing the information that visitors to your website want is of extreme importance, even if it contributes to a higher bounce rate.
One way you can adjust this is by adjusting the time it takes for an exit to be considered a bounce within Google Analytics. Google Analytics times the duration of each visit to a webpage and if the visitor leaves before reaching a minimum time limit, it will be counted as a bounce. You can adjust this minimum time limit for each page and lowering the time limit on high traffic pages that provide quick information will help reduce the bounce rate. Therefore, if you have in information page that delivers what visitors want within 30 seconds, then you should set your bounce rate to 10 seconds or something lower so that visitors who manage to get what they are looking for in a short time will not be counted towards your bounce rate.
Another possible explanation for having high bounce rates on high traffic pages is that the subject or title of your page promises something that visitors want but the page itself does not deliver on this promise. In such cases, it is important to adjust the content of the page to provide better information on the subjects that are drawing high traffic to keep visitors on your website. Getting visitors to your website wins the battle, keeping them will win the war.
How to Improve Your Internet Marketing Strategies
The effectiveness of your company’s website, whether information based or sales based, can have a major effect on your business volume and Google Analytics helps you measure the success of your website and online marketing strategies. With the wide variety of metrics available from Google Analytics, you can see what marketing strategies work, which pages of your website are the most successful, and which webpages and strategies need to be adjusted. Analyzing the data from Google Analytics can be overwhelming for those with little experience in internet marketing and Proceed Innovative provides web analytic consulting services to help companies form effective marketing strategies base on the Google Analytics data.
If you would like to learn more about Google Analytics and how it can benefit your business, you can attend our free Google Analytics seminar on May 27 in our office in Schaumburg, IL.