You’ve probably heard of Google Analytics (GA). Launched in 2006, this web analytics tool allows you to track and analyse the performance of your websites and digital properties, across different platforms (eg websites, apps, e-commerce).
What if I told you there was a tool that could help you optimise your digital marketing efforts, reduce the amount of time you spend monitoring campaigns, and give you a clear insight into the performance of your website?
What if I also told you that this tool was free?
Why report online marketing metrics?
You may be wondering why you’d want to report on online marketing metrics, given that you can analyse the performance of your website using tools like Google Analytics. But there are several important reasons why you want to track these figures.
Firstly, understanding the performance of your digital marketing efforts, and being able to report on it, gives you the opportunity to maximise your return on investment (ROI).
Secondly, comparing the performance of various campaigns and marketing channels can help you identify which ones are working and which ones are not. You might discover that some channels and tactics are benefiting your business while others are not. This can help you optimise your efforts and increase the chances of your product or service being found by the right person at the right time. Analytics also helps you identify the keywords and phrases that are driving traffic to your site.
And finally, keeping track of the performance of your digital marketing efforts, allows you to measure the success of your plans and initiatives. If you want to improve the ways in which your business presents itself online, set up automated email campaigns to send out at regular intervals, or create content to promote a certain product, website, or service, you’ll need to know how effective these were in terms of driving engagement and ultimately business.
How to report on online marketing metrics
Whether you use Google Analytics or another tool to track conversions and e-commerce activity, you’ll need to decide how you want to track and report on these figures.
The most basic analysis you can perform, from a product point of view, is counting the number of unique visitors to your site. This figure is available in the ‘Overview’ tab of your Google Analytics. However, this isn’t an optimal way of measuring the performance of your digital marketing efforts, as it doesn’t take into account how many times a user has visited your site. Using a tool like Google Analytics will allow you to track how often users return to your site, how long they stay for, and if they purchase anything while there.
If you’re looking for an easy way to start organising and analysing the data from your Google Analytics, you can set up custom reports in the tool. When you create a new report, you can select the metrics you want to track, such as the number of visitors, their average time on site, Pageviews, etc. For the sake of this tutorial, we will be using the Google Analytics’s self-service option, which allows you to report on any site or domain that you own or manage. So if you’re looking to start collecting performance data on your website, app, or e-commerce store, this is the best place to start.
Report on general performance
Once you’ve set up Google Analytics on your website, you can click the ‘Admin’ tab and then select ‘Metrics’ from the left-hand menu. Here, you’ll find a bunch of analytics metrics that you can use to get a general impression of the performance of your website. Since we are not using any of the specialised tools like Google Analytics for iOS or Android, we will be using the standard metrics available on the ‘Metrics’ page.
- Bounce Rate: The bounce rate indicates the number of visitors who enter your site and then leave immediately, without spending any time on it. Calculated as a percentage of total visits,(i) the bounce rate is one of the most basic metrics to report on. If you want to gain a better understanding of the performance of your site, calculate the bounce rate for the past month and then compare it to the previous month. A high bounce rate can be an indication that your site is very busy, with lots of activity and a lot of moving parts. However, if you have a low bounce rate, it can mean that your content is very engaging and that your site is growing in popularity. You decide if you want to increase your SEO efforts (specifically, if you’re on a WordPress site, you can use plugins like Yoast SEO and All In One SEO to easily get started) or continue growing your user base, by adding more engaging content.
- Clicks: This metric indicates how many times a user landed on a particular link or button on your site. While many click through to your site for a specific product or service, others might simply click on your blog post to see what else you’ve written. When calculating the value of a click, you need to think about what your goal was when the click occurred. Was it to purchase a product? Find information? Leave a comment? It’s extremely helpful to track these figures, but try not to get too carried away with them. Instead, use them as a guide to determine the next step in your digital marketing plan.
- Conversions: When a user clicks a button or link on your site that’s tied to an order or purchase, you can say that they’ve ‘converted’ from being a visitor to being a customer. This figure is available in the ‘Sales Summary’ section of your Google Analytics. When calculating the value of a conversion, you need to ask yourself two questions. 1) Did they purchase my product or service? and 2) How much money did I make from the sale? If you’re looking to grow your bottom line, this is the place to start.
- Pages/Blog Post Viewed: This figure indicates the number of times a user has visited a page or blog post on your site. Since we are using standard metrics, this figure is available in the ‘Overview’ tab of your Google Analytics. If you want to create more engaging content, or add more value to your blog posts, use this figure to see how often your content is being read and how engaged your audience is. Creating more interesting content can help you grow your blog post views significantly.
- Top Content: Analysing the content that draws the most views and clicks is an easy way to find the most valuable content on your site. You can use the ‘Hits’ metric to track the popularity of a page, and then use the ‘Goals’ functionality in Google Analytics to set a goal for each content piece you create (ie: set a goal of 200 clicks on an ‘About’ page). When you reach that goal, you can then identify the content that generated the most interest and generate more like it. Creating more of this content can help you establish yourself as an expert in your industry and allow you to build a reputation for yourself as someone who can provide valuable information to people looking for answers.
- Time On Site: Since we’re reporting on standard metrics, this figure is also available in the ‘Overview’ tab of your Google Analytics. The time a user spends on your site, either in the form of mobile apps or web pages, can provide you with important insights into how effective your content is in engaging your audience. Calculate this figure for the last 60 days and compare it to the previous 60 days to see if there’s been a significant change in your audience’s behaviour. If you notice a significant increase or decrease in time on site, you can assume that your content either worked well or didn’t work at all.
- Unique Visitors: As mentioned above, this metric indicates the total number of unique visitors to your site. You can use this figure to get an idea of the performance of your site, but you shouldn’t get too carried away with this number. Like with the bounce rate, comparing this figure to the previous month can help you identify changes in your audience’s behaviour and determine if there’s been any significant growth or decline in traffic.
As you can see above, we’ve used the standard metrics available in the ‘Metrics’ section of Google Analytics to create a report on our most recent blog post. This report gives us a detailed breakdown of the number of people who’ve visited our site since it launched, in June 2016. In terms of the bounce rate, we can see that 80% of our visitors entered our site, but only 68% of them left after reading a single blog post. This indicates that our content was successful in drawing in our audience, but perhaps not as effective as we’d hope in keeping them engaged.
Next, we’ll take a look at how to track e-commerce data, using the self-service option in Google Analytics.