Here's 5 of the most useful insights in Google Analytics and a few actionable steps you can take to grow and evolve your digital marketing strategy.

Traffic Sources

Visitors don’t just magically arrive on your site. Every visitor who lands anywhere on your website has been categorized under one of these types of traffic sources:

  • Direct traffic: Visitors reach your website by manually typing the URL into the address bar, or clicking on a saved bookmark.  
  • Referral traffic: Visitors reach your website by clicking a link on another website.
  • Organic traffic: Visitors reach your website by searching the company name or a keyword in a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo and clicking on a search result.
  • Paid traffic: Visitors reach your website by clicking on an ad on Google, another website, or anywhere else on the Internet.
  • Social traffic: Visitors who are on social media reach your website by clicking the website link in social media profiles or feeds.
  • Email traffic: Visitors receive a communication from you through email marketing and visit your website by clicking on a link in the email.

If you can identify the common routes visitors take to reach you, it’s possible to gather actionable intelligence about the user and their intentions. This data can also be used to enhance future marketing efforts by focusing more on the sources that drive the most traffic to your website. Some ways to optimize these traffic channels include:

  • Direct traffic: Is your website URL and company name easy to remember or spell? This can make a significant impact on how visitors end up landing on your website.
  • Referral traffic: Reach out to well established influencers in your industry and contribute content or try guest blogging for them. Earning more of these backlinks is a great way to boost referral traffic.
  • Organic traffic: Make sure that you’re utilizing H1 and H2 tags, meta descriptions and meta titles in the back end of all of your landing pages and blog articles. On the front end, make sure copy includes targeted keywords. Strengthening your website’s organic SEO will improve the chances of a user finding you through a search engine query.
  • Paid traffic: Continually adjust your keywords, ad copy, and targeting options to make your ads more relevant to your audience.  
  • Social traffic: Post updates on a consistent basis and share content that links to your website. Take a look at your profile insights on each social channel and compare what content drives the most visitors to your website.
  • Email traffic: Include clear calls to action to give recipients an enticing reason to click on the link in your email campaign.  

Audience Demographics

If you want your website to appeal to and build rapport with your target audience, you need to know who these people are. Google Analytics provides detailed demographic data including the age, gender and general interests of your audience. This information can greatly shape your overall content strategy, determine the most appropriate advertising and marketing channels to distribute content, and the different ways you can tailor your website’s design, functionality, and verbiage to best meet the needs and preferences of your visitors.

You can even draw geographical location data ranging from city to continent level, identify whether these users are new or returning visitors, and find out how engaged they are with your material by the length of time they spend on a page and number of sessions.

The data is collected primarily from visitors who are logged into their Google accounts, as well as third-party cookies. If a user is browsing while signed into any of Google’s properties, such as YouTube, Gmail or Chrome, Google Analytics will associate their personal information with their browsing session. You can also gather information that determines whether the visitor was using a desktop computer or mobile device, and if it’s an Android, iOS or Windows operating system.

Landing Page Engagement

Once you have a solid understanding of who your visitors are and how they are finding your site, it’s time to determine if your landing pages and content are keeping them actively engaged. Google Analytics’ Content Drilldown tool is a great way to get a straightforward overview of the most popular landing and exit pages, and what content drives the most engagement.

In the Content Drilldown tool, the Landing Pages view is a good indicator of how successful your marketing and social media strategies are, as you hope to see blog articles and promoted landing pages at the top. If not, it’s time to either reevaluate their value and/or your promotional strategy to ensure you’re driving traffic to those pages through social media and email marketing campaigns. Spending time in the behavior section will allow you to develop an awareness of what content your website visitors find the most valuable. You can use this as a guide for what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to blog topics and page types.

Although your content may be strong, are visitors actually completing a CTA? This is often overlooked and it’s important to establish your average visitors-to-contact ratio. This will help you determine what the length of a campaign should be and the budget required to deliver the number of conversions you’re targeting. Use your engagement statistics to identify what information your audience finds most helpful, and let that be your guide for future content development.

Your bounce rate and exit pages are also important, because it can draw your attention to ineffective SEO, poor quality content, or other problems with your website. If visitors click through to at least one other piece of content besides the page they landed on and have a decent session duration, you can assume they found information related to their search or worth checking out. The more pages they visit, the higher the chances of them gathering data about your offering and responding to a call to action. On average, a “normal” bounce rate ranges between 40-50%, but most marketers try to keep it below 40% for best results.

Real Time Reporting

Google Analytics’ Real-Time Reporting option enables you to assess and monitor the user’s experience while it’s happening, live on your site. It provides an overview of the number of users currently on the site and the pages they are spending longer on, including the page URL and the title. It also shows you the percentage of active users, pages viewed in the previous 30 minutes, their geographical location, and of course, how they got to your site. These reports allow you to:

  • Troubleshoot UTM parameters and events. These are tags that can be added to the end of a URL which enables you to see how many people visit a particular page, and determine where each visitor came from. Check out the Google Analytics link builder to help you.
  • Monitor campaigns as they unfold and encourage user activity at its peak. For example, if you see a particular offer is being well-received, you can allocate additional funding mid-campaign to run some social media ads. It beats waiting until the end of the campaign and then recognizing a lost opportunity!
  • Fine-tune your content marketing strategy by identifying and capitalizing on trending topics. Take precautions to posting after the buzz has died down.
  • Use A/B testing to try out new features in real time. This feature only works with reasonably high traffic numbers, otherwise there isn’t enough data to really show consistent patterns.

Goal and Event Tracking

The actions taken by your visitors while they are on your site are key indicators that enable you to optimize your marketing tactics over the long term. This can be tracked by setting up Goals and Events in Google Analytics.

Goals are a great way to measure the success of your KPI’s. This could be a newsletter sign up, a contact form submission or specific page views. Every goal can be assigned a monetary value and can be a useful way of measuring the benefit of an action. There are four different goal types including destination, duration, pages per session and goals based on events.

Events on the other hand are set up to independently track user interactions. This function makes it possible to measure actions such as video play, form completion progress (or drop-out), downloaded content, social sharing, clicked links, and scrolling progress on a landing page.

Both goals and events can work together as indicators of quality engagement. It’s one thing to know how how much time they've spent on a page, but it’s more valuable entirely to understand precisely what they were doing while they were there and if the desired action was taken. Take note, however, that bounces are also recorded as events, so it’s important to analyze the different categories of events to make sure you’re getting the right intel.

Although there are various other metrics in Google Analytics that contain a tremendous amount of information, utilizing, analyzing, and focusing on these few areas will equip your team with a more solid understanding of who your visitors are, how they find you, what they are looking for, and how you can best serve their needs and expectations through your website and content. Are you in need of more actionable recommendations on how to improve and adjust your digital marketing strategy? We’re here to help! Contact us today to get started.