Posted on October 02, 2014 at 15:50 PM
Number crunching is about as fun as getting a lobotomy, and just as mind-numbing. That is unless you know and understand just how much you can learn from analyzing your marketing and advertising metrics on a regular and consistent basis. After all, numbers don’t lie, and there are countless ways to use tools like Google Analytics, a free website analytics tool, to your advantage. We’ll highlight eight of the most important metrics to look at when determining how to improve your online messaging. So sit back, put on your nerd glasses, and let your geek flag fly.
- How people are getting to your site. Knowing which keywords (words or phrases visitors use to search for specific information on the web) are used to arrive to your site can tell you a lot about how you are perceived by search engines and visitors alike. If you know how visitors are arriving to your site, you can work backwards to explore advertising opportunities with sites or publications that focus on related topics or subject matter. You can also determine if your site is relevant to what they are searching for; if not, you can bet your bottom dollar that your bounce rate (the rate in which people come to your site and then leave) is going to be high. The whole point is to keep them on the site, so your keyword relevance should be spot on. This is done through your content, PPC campaigns, meta tagging and descriptions, and other SEO efforts.
- Why people are leaving your site. Looking at the success of a site may give you the warm-fuzzies, but it’s just as important to know why people are leaving your site, too. The pages your visitors leave from, also called exit pages, can tell you a lot about the user experience. Sometimes the highest exit page indicates something good, such as completing a contact form or a checkout. But if your exit pages indicate that your visitors aren’t completing the goals you’d like to see, such as abandoning the checkout process before it’s complete, you should evaluate those ill-performing pages to be scrapped or re-tooled.
- How much poking around is going on. Thanks to a spiffy tool within Google Analytics called Flow Visualization, you can see, based on selected criteria, the exact path of your visitors as they navigate through your website. You can even see where they stopped to read your content, as well as the pages on which they exit the site. Seeing the traffic pattern of your users can help you improve their experience and ultimately, you can tweak clickable buttons, links, and menus if you see an irregular pattern forming.
- How they are viewing your site. Whether they are using Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or their new iPhone 6 Plus, finding out how visitors are viewing your site is more important than you might think. This info is useful because your site may have features that are incompatible with certain browsers. It can also tell you about your visitor base; for example, you can assume that if most of your visitors are coming to the site on Google Chrome, they are more internet savvy in general than those who use Internet Explorer, statistically speaking. Lastly, if you have a decent percentage of people looking at your site using a smart phone or tablet, you can go ahead and call up your developer. You need a mobile-friendly, responsive version of your site, pronto.
- How effective your advertising campaigns are. A great way to measure specific campaigns is to create landing pages for your website. Landing pages are URLs that are shared in advertising that will land a visitor on a specific page based on the ad they saw. Even television or print commercials are effective ways to use landing pages. Create separate landing pages for each segment of advertising for an accurate way to see how well each performs. Then simply cut back your ad spend on what isn’t working, or dump more money into a particularly well performing ad segment.
- Where your audience is located. Knowing where your audience is coming from is a great way to segment marketing strategies based on geographics. Down to the zip code, you can determine how many visitors in any given location are visiting your site. You can then set up print, TV or digital ads in that market to specifically target the browsing patterns found in that area. For example, an e-commerce furniture website might want to put some advertising dollars into the Houston area when they see that 40% of their revenue last month came from that city alone. If a specific item sells like hot cakes in a certain city, targeted PPC ads marketing that specific item may put sales into the stratosphere.
- What content performs the best (and worst). Knowing which content on your site is the most useful to your visitors gives you the opportunity to give them more of the same. If your visitors love reading your blog when it talks about interior design trends, then find new ways and topics within the interior design realm. If you test out a few blogs that talk about gardening and they perform poorly, you know that your audience has come to expect a certain type of content from you…and gardening isn’t it. It’s always good to try new things, which is why it’s so important to track your content performance when you do.
- How many people are on your site…right NOW. Real time reporting is a fairly recent introduction from Google, and a fun ‘Big Brother’ tool if you want to creep/stalk who is on your site at any given moment. You can check in to see how many visitors are on your site, where they are on the site, how they arrived to the site and their relative geographic location. This is a great tool to use if you want to hold an online flash sale, or live virtual event, and will provide invaluable information as to the success or failure of your efforts.
If you are excited about looking at the success of your marketing efforts, but the thought of staring at confusing metrics makes your eyes glaze over, fret not. There are professionals that can do it for you. The key is to make sure someone is doing it. Free tools like Google Analytics offer fantastic insight into your online presence, so why not take advantage of it?