Building a website and not using Google Analytics is a bit like buying a computer and never turning it on. Sure, it looks good and you can tell everyone you have one, but…what’s the function?
In the same way you’ll never know how great (or terrible) your new computer is until you turn it on, you’ll never know how good (or bad) your website is until you start looking at its analytics. Whilst the immense vastness of all Google Analytics has to offer can sometimes be overwhelming, you shouldn’t let that put you off. There are some basics that analytics can help you with and there are many reasons why you should start using it today.
What can Google Analytics do for you?
Having a direct insight into the location of your audience means you never have to second guess yourself. You get accurate and factual statistics that can make a real difference to your business. For example, you’ve just built an e-commerce website and you’ve been selling art in Ireland for 30 years. All your clients are from Ireland and you believe that the website will reflect this. However, after careful SEO work and an excellent content strategy, you begin to rank in Google. With the millions of Irish expats around the world you begin to see a relevant number of people visiting you from e.g. USA – a market you never dreamed of tapping into. All of a sudden you have the factual information you need to grow, something you never had before.
Knowing how traffic gets to your site is another basic but wonderful tool from Google Analytics. Google Analytics filters your traffic to allow you to see the direction from which it came and what brought it there. For example, you’ll get an insight into traffic that is coming from social networks and what is working best for you in terms of attracting visitors. You’ll also be able to find out how much of your traffic is arriving organically, that is traffic from a natural search engine result and traffic from AdWords – that is traffic that you spend money on. Having this knowledge is vital in letting you know where to spend your money.
When you create a website for business, you’re doing 1 of 3 things; you’re going to sell or you’re going to create awareness, or if you are good enough – you’ll manage to do both of these things. These 3 things involve what Google Analytics have appropriately named ‘conversions’. The selling part of conversions is somewhat obvious; if a product on your e-commerce site has sold, that is one conversion. It’s good to know this…not knowing this would involve a lot of counting (or maybe worse, a lot of not counting).
Everyone wants to improve their conversion rate (the rate at which a site visitors becomes a paying customer), because there’s always room for improvement. Even the most successful e-commerce sites are on a journey of change and improvement. Measuring conversions offers you the chance to find out what is stopping people from purchasing, a chance to see the drop off point in your sales structure. Google Analytics allows you to see the percentage of people that are exiting your site throughout the buying process, so if you have a high exit rate at stage 2 of the buying process – you know you need to do something to make this page more attractive.
Goals are a little bit different – this is the non-selling part of your conversion. These are things like asking a visitor to fill out a brochure or a “Contact Us” form. Google Analytics will tell you how successful your website is at doing this. Again, this allows you to make decisions to take the steps to change something, and move away from something that factually isn’t working.
Your website is full of (or at least it should be) information that will either sell you as a company; sell your products and services, or both. Knowing what interests or intrigues your audience used to be a bit of a guessing game. Some businesses assumed audiences cared about what a company 100 years ago right up to the present day so they fill “About us” pages with reams of text and questioned why people weren’t curious to find out more. Well, for some it’s pretty obvious…for others, not so much. So Google Analytics created ‘Behaviour’. This allows you to see your sites most popular pages and their Exit and Bounce Rate- all this information let’s you know how many people are coming, how long their staying for and if what you have provided them with is enough to make them stay.
If your website isn’t a recent build, Google Analytics is still as necessary for you as it is for someone who just created theirs. You may be operating around the belief that your website is fine as it is, maybe it isn’t responsive but you don’t think it needs to be. Well, Google Analytics will give you a definitive answer to these queries. Google Analytics tells you the source of technology which your visitors came from; desktop, mobile or tablet. This way, you won’t have to make any assumptions and you can start to make changes that will change the way your business operates for the better.
Simply put, analytics give you knowledge – and lots of it. But what does this knowledge actually do for you? Well, that’s entirely up to you. If knowledge is power then Google Analytics is the UN, and for the first time in the digital age, the power is all yours.