I was speaking with a new client yesterday. His company has done some impressive things, and they have dozens of case studies at their website detailing these accomplishments.
The case studies aren’t presented in the most alluring way, and the client isn’t happy with his level of visibility on the web, so I asked whether anyone read the case studies.
“What?” the client asked. “I see that you have Google Analytics installed,” I clarified, “so you can tell whether your visitors read the case studies. I was wondering whether they explore the case studies or maybe find them via search.”
There was a pause.
“We installed Google Analytics,” he agreed, “but we don’t look at them or anything.” He sounded a bit doubtful, as though looking at the analytics was an odd thing to do.
I get it, though. Unlike those hit counters they had in the 20th century, Google Analytics isn’t the kind of thing you can quickly glance at and get the whole picture. The user interface has just been updated, with lots of new things to look at and changes in how the old things look, and this happens fairly often.
We love analytics because we can mine the data for answers to very specific questions. For example, we can find out whether people are currently reading the case studies and then going on to request information about the company’s rates, so that it would make sense to add more case studies — or whether perhaps visitors never look at them, in which case it would make sense to improve the presentation first so people will choose to read the ones that are already on the site.
We understand, though, that many of our clients find analytics pretty meaningless. Here’s a guide to the current GA dashboard, so you can tell what you’re looking at if you decide to take a peek. We’re showing you data from our lab site (obviously, we never share client data).
This is what you see at your Home, the uncustomized dashboard:
Here’s where you can see the visitors for the past 30 days:
You want to see that line moving upwards. If it isn’t moving upwards, you need to do something different. You’ll notice the FreshPlans line has a scalloped shape. This — higher traffic during the week and lower traffic on weekends — is normal for sites that people use for work. As long as the peaks are getting higher and the troughs aren’t getting lower, you’re good.
Directly below the total visits information you’ll see the traffic sources. Click the link to read more about what you can learn from this pie chart. You can also see, in this column, what proportion of your visitors use mobile devices to visit you.
Next is the average time on site, the length of the visits people make to your website. You want this to keep rising, too, or at least not to fall. One or two minutes says that visitors are there long enough to read your content or watch your video, while visits lasting only a few seconds suggest that your visitors didn’t find what they were after. Long stays suggest a large and appealing site, shopping, or confusion.
Below this you can see time on site by country. The United States is the greatest source of traffic for FreshPlans by far, followed by the other English-speaking countries of the world. Unsurprisingly, visitors from Turkey are fewer than visitors from Australia or Canada, and their average stay is only 26 seconds, while visitors from English-speaking countries stay for over a minute. Decisions about shipping for ecommerce may find this useful information.
The third column shows conversion rates. What you expect to see here will vary depending on how you define conversions and set up goals, but once again it’s good to see this rising rather than falling.
Below this chart you’ll find a table of conversion rates by source. Here you’ll see the total number of goal completions (purchases, for example) for visitors from each source, plus the conversion rate, the percentage of visitors from each source that makes a purchase or in some other way completes a goal. Knowing this can help you decide where to put your marketing resources, or give you an idea of the kinds of links that might be most valuable for you.
This is only a tiny fraction of the information Google Analytics can give you, but it’s a good start if you don’t currently look at your analytics at all.
More on analytics: