After spending the last few weeks familiarizing myself with Google Analytics, I am now fully starting to understand the value it can bring to tracking your website’s performance. Coming from a limited background regarding web metrics, the abundance of options included in a free platform like this can certainly be overwhelming (note: I’m aware that there are more comprehensive software choices out there, but still feel that Google Analytics possesses very robust offerings). It is very simple to become bogged down with the many options and directions you can take your analysis, so it is important to have clear objectives of what you are looking for.
The advantages of Google Analytics I would to explore further in this post will be framed in a very specific way: How small and mid-size businesses can leverage the reports and features of Google Analytics. As businesses look to reduce expenditures and become more efficient, a free analytics program like this can be incredibly valuable. Within that Google Analytics has reports and features that can actually limit the need to involve multiple parties or constant monitoring of a website, thereby freeing people up to perform other tasks in their daily roles. I will specifically be looking at the value that Goal Setting, E-Commerce, and AdWords Linking can offer businesses as they look to streamline their approach and increase the efficiency of their websites.
Google Analytics can only be as helpful in tracking your website goals, as you are in creating specific ones to track. Without clearly defined metrics for success, all the metrics in the world will not help you evaluate if you are achieving what is crucial to the success of your business. Kaushik emphasizes the importance of focusing on the Critical Few metrics that will help you determine your success. These metrics should satisfy the four attributes of great metrics: Uncomplex, Relevant, Timely, and Instantly Useful (Kaushik, 2010). Once you and your team have agreed on what those look like for your operation, then you can begin to leverage Google Analytics.
Google Analytics allows users to set up four types of goals: URL Destination, Time on Site, Page Visit, and Event. The goals are listed under the Conversion section. While setting them up, it creates a “funnel” as to what path will create a successful conversion. This allows you to determine the most lucrative conversion path and ideally make changes that will enhance future conversions (Google, n.d.).
Value of Goal Setting
The ability to set up goals in Google Analytics has multiple benefits for a small or mid-sized business. Mainly, it is a fantastic way to stay organized and focused on what is most important to the site. After spending a great deal of time identifying your sites goals, you will want to track them intensely. Secondly, the simplicity of setting up the goals (as with most Google Analytics tasks) is much welcomed by novices to web metrics. Finally, setting up your site’s goals within Google Analytics will allow quick assessments of progress. It is as simple as going to the Conversions section of the page and seeing where you currently are in terms of success. If you are unhappy with certain results, you know exactly what to change without wasting precious time combing through unnecessary data.
E-commerce, while not the main goal of every site, plays an incredibly important role in determining the success of a site. Fortunately, Google has a dedicated area of the Conversion section for tracking this metric. The e-commerce section allows you to track revenue associated with AdWords, revenue from specific referrals, and average visit per traffic source amongst other things. Additionally, it offers the functionality to code the items you are tracking and give them unique names in order to efficiently understand item performance (Google, n.d.).
Value of E-commerce Tracking
In 2013, consumers will spend approximately $262 billion through e-commerce, growth of 13.4% year-over-year. It will also experience an “omnichannel” effect, the blending of physical stores with web and mobile purchases as consumers become more comfortable with technology (Rueter, 2013).
With the continued growth and competitiveness of the e-commerce segment, it is important to leverage all available resources to succeed. Google Analytics provides companies with highly detailed information on item performance and a greater understanding of how the purchase funnel impacts SKU success. There is no reason for items that are not adding to the bottom line to be left in online stores. The information provided in e-commerce tracking should allow small and mid-sized businesses the optimal product mix to produce the greatest ROI.
Google is understandably fond of AdWords, as advertising is the largest contributor to its profitability. In 2012, Google recorded $43.6 billion in advertising revenue (2013 Financial Tables Investor Relations, n.d.). Therefore, it should not be a surprise that AdWords tracking is highly integrated into the Google Analytics platform. With this tracking it offers you tremendous advantages in evaluating multiple aspects of the business.
Value of AdWords Linking
On just the surface level of segmentation and optimization, the benefits of linking an AdWords account are immediately noticeable for smaller organizations. Five options for segmentation that a small business could use to assess the performance of AdWords campaigns are Geography, Paid vs. Organic, Search Terms, Time, and Top Movers. Geographic segmentation would be helpful, as you could bid on geo-targeted terms, which would increase the effectiveness while reducing waste. Similarly, the Paid vs. Organic search can help you understand where overlap is occurring and again reduce wasteful spending on terms that are coming organically to the page. Understanding Time will again allow you to selectively bid on terms only at the most optimal times, those that result in conversions. Finally, reviewing the Top Movers section will allow you to understand which tweaks have had a positive impact on the site’s performance, and conversely where there are still gaps to be closed to enhance the performance (Tabeling, 2013).
As you begin to explore the more quantitative advantages of linking AdWords performance to Google Analytics, you will uncover even stronger value to your bottom line. Under the “Clicks” tab in the AdWords section of Google Analytics, you will be able to look at eight metrics to help quickly assess how the advertising is working. Impressions, Clicks, Cost, and Click-Through-Rate will quickly show how many people are seeing your ads along with how it is impacting their behavior (enticing them to click or not). Next to those four options you will find: Cost-Per-Click, Revenue-Per-Click, ROI, and Margin (Google, n.d.). For the small and mid-sized business, these may be the most important metrics of all in regards to advertising. They will quickly and efficiently show whether or not the AdWords campaign is generating a profit or sustainable long-term. If not, it can be compared to the overall site metrics and then the strategy recalibrated with key decision makers.
My Experience With Google Analytics
As I now begin to wade into the world of Google Analytics, in regards to this blog, I am finding things that I enjoy about and which are beneficial. I have enjoyed the general layout of Google Analytics, as it is fairly intuitive and navigation does not require much guesswork.
Everyone will inevitably gravitate to certain aspects that they find intriguing within Google Analytics as it pertains to their particular situation. With this blog I have found the metrics regarding which platforms are being used to access the blog interesting, as well as the breakdown between mobile and PC. Perhaps it is just the novelty of the metrics, but I think it says a lot about the types of users that are accessing the blog. As we continue to be presented with multiple options of web browsing, I believe it will be crucial to understand just how people are consuming content. It could end up dramatically impacting how you interact with your audience.
We have discussed possible advantages of Google Analytics, but what areas are you finding most useful for analyzing your site?
How do you feel small and mid-sized businesses should utilize analytics?
Kaushik, A. (2010). Web analytics 2.0: the art of online accountability & science of customer centricity. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley.