Website analytics: track your customers’ online journey
DATE: 25th May 2020
TAGS: analytics, marketing strategy
AUTHOR: Stuart Mullen
Website analytics, put simply, allows you to see what is happening on your website. Using the software and platforms available you can monitor the performance of your website, see where your visitors are coming from, and review what they are interacting with when they are on your site.
Free applications such as Google Analytics or free trials of premium software such as Hotjar, can allow you to get a better understanding of what is working well and what needs to be improved on your website to generate more sales and enquiries for your business.
What we’re seeing
When we are speaking to prospective clients about the services we can offer, one of the first things we will ask to see is their Google Analytics. This gives us a snapshot of where the website’s performance currently is. From our experience, businesses are not taking advantage of the data they have in Analytics. There can be plenty of reasons for this, but most frequently it’s because you aren’t sure what you can do with the seemingly endless amount of information in front of you.
Whilst Analytics presents a range of useful information, it can be overwhelming initially. A host of menus, segments and filters can make it an intimidating prospect to review. As a result, many companies are focusing on metrics that aren’t leading to company success.
Look beyond the stats
When you open Analytics, it will immediately show you a graph with your users, sessions, bounce rate and session duration, so it’s natural to assume that these are the most important stats. However, often the purpose of any given page can cause these statistics to differ wildly. For example, a landing page for one of your services, where a prospect can read about your offering and complete a lead generation form without leaving the page may have a higher bounce rate than other pages on your site. If you are getting a good rate of form completions on the page, then the page is performing well irrespective of the bounce rate.
Use your time wisely
We often see websites where efforts have been made to improve some of these “vanity metrics” that make the data in Analytics more appealing but do not lead to business growth. It’s easy to get caught up trying to keep all the plates spinning at once, so you should be looking at what is leading to the conversions on your website and optimise for those.
Persevere with conversions
Conversions, or “Goal Completions” are another frequent stumbling block. While they can be a bit tricky to get set up initially, they provide the most valuable information in your analytics suite, namely what is leading to more enquiries and sales for your business, so be sure to get them done!
Less is more
Focus on the most important activities to give you data you can draw conclusions from, as creating too many goals is another common pitfall. This can make the conversion rate seem better, but that dilutes the usefulness of conversions, as it means you don’t know the actions and user journeys that are leading to sales/enquiries.
Be smart with your goals
Google tries to lend a helping hand with its ‘Smart Goals’. Smart goals use machine learning to examine dozens of ‘signals’ about your website sessions to determine which are most likely to result in conversions. Each session is assigned a score, with the "best" sessions being translated into Smart Goals. Some examples of the ‘signals’ included in the Smart Goals model are session duration, pages per session, location, device and browser. These are only available in accounts with linked Google Ads accounts. To make the best use of your Goals, it’s best to take a look over Google’s Smart Goals to make sure they are relevant to your business.
Get to grips with analytics
Keep the following 5 tips in mind when establishing your website analytics…
Use a multifaceted approach to get more out of your website analytics. Start by using UTM parameters to discover where your traffic is coming from. In Serenity-built websites, we pull any UTM data into hidden form fields, so the client is always able to get the most accurate marketing data from their campaigns.
We recommend that you set up multiple views in Google Analytics, using filters to get more specific results. What we start with is a “raw” view, with nothing else set up on it. Next is our “test” view, which we use to test new conversions, pathways and goals. The final one is the “master” view, which shows your filtered website data. The different views ensure your activity on the site is properly recorded and that any conversion tests are recorded as tests, rather than real conversions.
Make use of other tools
In addition to the goal options you have in Analytics, you can also use other tools to enhance your data. By using Google Tag Manager, you can track more than just destination goals. Tag Manager lets you push information from events on pages (such as button clicks) into Google Analytics, as supposed to just saying that they had reached a certain page.
Gain further insight
Other tools such as Hotjar allow you even more data, as you can see actual customers navigating your site and get a better understanding of where they leave and what they appear to be looking for. This lets you find any ‘dead ends’ on your site where prospects are reaching but not taking the action you want.
Most businesses use a mixed marketing approach, including both digital and print marketing. By using custom URLs on print media, it will allow you to better track the performance of print campaigns. Once they’ve entered the URL, you can redirect them to the page they are looking for and still keep the data of where they first heard of your business.
In a nutshell...
The prospect of drawing valuable conclusions from your Google Analytics can seem daunting at first, but by focusing on the most important areas that are directly leading to more enquiries or sales, you’ll be able to make the greatest impact.
If you’d like more information on Web Analytics, or for one of our experts to take a look through your data and provide valuable insights and recommendations, please get in touch.« All blogs