At this point, you’ve probably been doing your own online marketing for a while. Getting started is no joke, especially if you’re brand new.
With all of the regular updates Google makes, it can be a nightmare just trying to keep up, and if you don’t know what numbers to pay attention to, it can make a strategy – as well as the follow up to a strategy – downright impossible.
We won’t dive into strategy here, but we can at least get you on the right track to tell whether your marketing is working or not.
The Very First Point: Google Analytics
Do you have it installed?
Google analytics is a must. If you don’t have it installed on your website, you need to get it – IMMEDIATELY. It will be impossible to tell how well you’re doing without it.
An easy way to tell is by going here and typing in your website URL: https://builtwith.com/
Once you put in your URL, it will come up with a full list of items on your website – ideally, you’ll see Google Analytics among them.
Additionally, you can also check by viewing your source code. Simply go to your website and right click on the page (a place that doesn’t have any clickable stuff should work). It will pull up a menu, and you can click on “View Page Source.”
This will take you to the backend of the website, where you will see a bunch of code. Don’t freak out! You can’t edit anything here to mess up a site and finding what we are looking for will be pretty easy. Near the top, look for something that says, “Google Tag Manager.” It should be enclosed in code.
For additional info, you can also visit this quick resource from Google.
You Have Google Analytics! Now What?
Now it’s time to sign into it. Your account has to be a Google account (very commonly connected with Gmail) in order to access Google Analytics, but it should really be as easy as signing in after clicking the link: https://analytics.google.com/.
If you don’t know what the logins would be for your account and you need help, you can always ask us for a consultation – we’ve had to get access for many in the past, and it can be an involved process.
Once inside, chances are you’ll be taken to your website’s analytics homepage. If there are multiple sites, you can switch it up by clicking on your URL in the upper left hand corner and perusing the drop down menu.
It’s worth noting that there might be a couple of versions of Google Analytics. For the sake of most websites, we’ll cover the older version, called Universal Google Analytics (or UA). But there is also Google Analytics 4, which is much more updated and extremely useful for anyone dealing with SaaS or eCommerce websites. Additionally, the same features on the older version are all available on the newer version.
We recommend starting with a general summary of what’s happening in the Audience section. The Overview tab will provide the biggest picture: how many people are visiting your website and generally how well your website is doing.
A lot of the benchmarks you’ll want to pay attention to may shift a bit from industry to industry, but for an overall thought process, the questions to answer are:
- Am I getting enough people in the time frame and location?
- Are they spending enough time to accomplish what I want them to accomplish?
Users shows how many people have visited the site, and New Users shows how many first-time visitors you get. This should help you answer the first question. You can also adjust the date range and put filters in to see the numbers for a specific area, which we recommend for more localized businesses.
Sessions shows how many times your site has been visited – and remember that people can visit your site multiple times. Number of Sessions per User becomes the KPI to look at for the proportion. This will depend on your industry, but if you know it takes at least 3 contact points with your client to sell your product or service, you know you’ll want this number to be close to 3 or more.
Pageviews are how many different pages on your website have been seen, and Pages per Session shows how many pages on average are seen per each visit from a user. We want most of our users to find what they are looking for within 2-3 clicks. If they can’t find their answer within those clicks, many will leave to a different site – and we don’t want that. A higher number may not be bad, but the next two stats help you understand if your Pages per Session is good or not.
Average Session Duration tells you how long people stay on your site. Think this one through naturally. If the number is too low, chances are someone hasn’t done what you wanted them to, like giving you a call, filling out a form, or reading your educational material.
Bounce Rate shows whether someone has taken an action on your website or not. Many individuals who initially look at your website and determine it ISN’T what they were looking for will just leave. That means the call-to-action you put up isn’t good enough.
The Metrics To Pay Attention To
Overall, the biggest item to pay attention to here would be the Total Traffic, which answers the question of whether you are getting enough. The other is a mix of pages per session, average session duration, and bounce rate. We recommend the following numbers in general:
- Pages per session: 2-3
- Session Duration: 60+ seconds, or long enough to complete your average call to action (calling your office all the way to filling out a form)
- Bounce Rate: Less than 60%. Some things can influence this, like if you’re running ads; but less than 60% is a good base figure.
Instead of moving through the different menus in Google analytics, those who just want some quick answers can jump down to Conversions. This section becomes increasingly important as you keep telling Google the goals you want to track.
Goals can be set up to tell Google that once someone completes an action you want on the website, to count it as a conversion. This can be anything from someone spending enough time on a page (like 45 seconds) to implementing Google tag manager and having Google count a click as a call. That action then counts as a conversion (which most likely means someone called you if set it up correctly).
Since Conversions are usually customized for you, you can generally connect the dots between your online efforts to see if your online marketing is producing results. Obviously, the higher the results, the better, but you can also get an estimate through the Goal Conversion Rate.
Goal Conversion Rate gives you an estimate in comparison to the amount of traffic you get. It shows how successful your website may be in drawing users into becoming actual buying clients. A very high rate means you’re doing a great job and may want to focus on getting more traffic. A low Goal Conversion Rate may mean you need to improve the quality of your content.
Certain goals may be more valuable than others, and if assigned an appropriate value, you can look at goal value for a better idea that gets closer to a dollar amount. Again, this is dependent on everything being set up correctly and properly adjusted over time.
Additionally, pay attention to geographical info. This is especially important for localized businesses, as looking through the scope of nationwide results can easily throw your data off.
The Metrics To Pay Attention To
The first initial idea is Goal Completions. Basically, are your completions increasing and is it enough?
Depending on how you have things set up, you may want to look at the individual goals (you’ll see additional items like Goal 1 completions, Goal 2 completions, etc. all in parentheses after the title of goals). Then you can ask yourself whether you are reaching enough goals in each category.
For Goal Conversion Rate, we recommend a minimum of 4%. The reason? Ecommerce, which will tend to have a lower conversion rate, averages around 4.3%. Other industries, like healthcare, will jump from an average of 3% all the way up to 8%.
Finally, for Conversion Value, this will be dependent on how much you are spending. Basically, how much you spend on your marketing should be less than the goal value you see here. Do keep in mind, other sources may also have conversions as well (like Google Ads and Google My Business), so you will want to double check other sources.
Finally, this one isn’t an overall summary but, if done correctly, can answer specific questions. Usually, these specific questions include:
- What results am I getting from social media?
- What results am I getting from Google Ads?
- Or online paid ads in general
- How much am I getting organically? How is my actual SEO?
As well as any questions that involve traffic to your website.
From the Overview tab, you can get quite a breakdown. Direct refers to individuals typing in your URL to find you. Organic refers to individuals who find you through a keyword. Referral traffic comes from other websites that link to your own website. Paid Search refers to any online ads from popular sites. Social comes from any social media profile. Others can hold several other traffic sources and can vary wildly.
Additionally, if anyone uses UTM tracking links, there are many different ways to track where someone came from. This is a very advanced topic, but it allows you to know where traffic is coming from by giving each unique source its own link. A source can even be as specific as a single social media post.
If someone is using UTM tracking links and doing so successfully, you should be able to open the “All Traffic” menu and click the “Source/Medium” option. This will give an even more specific breakdown of where everyone is coming from provided you know the naming system behind the UTM parameters.
The Metrics To Pay Attention To
This area will be a combination of the first two sections. You should pay attention to the overall traffic. Again, the question is “Are you getting enough traffic?” So take a look at the Users column. This provides even better information if you are comparing things over time, like a period-over-period or year-over-year comparison within Google Analytics to ensure everything is growing.
Additionally, the combination of Bounce Rate, Pages per Session, and Average Session should answer your questions on whether it’s good traffic. Keep in mind, different referral areas will provide different stats here. In general, Paid Ads will provide traffic with higher bounce rates and lower session durations, anything having to do with Google My Business or review sites will have very high conversion rates (since people like looking at reviews).
Finally, you have the Conversions and Conversion Value. This is probably the greatest item to give stock toward: it directly tells you how valuable that specific aspect of online marketing is. Additional information from comparing time frames and segmenting the data gives you additional conclusions to draw.
Yes, that was A LOT. Especially if you aren’t as familiar with online marketing.
Of course, there is a TON more useful information as you keep diving in, but the metrics above will give you an overview of how you’re doing. Additional metrics can help you diagnose problems and come up with a plan to solve them, but at that point you’ll want someone experienced to help you.
So if you find your metrics are below par, give us a call. We can do anything from help you analyze your metrics to tell you where you’re at to help you come up with a plan for achieving your goals and execute it.
If any of those services sound good, just send us a message through our online form to let us know you’re interested.