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Google Analytics: A Small Biz Overview

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Google Analytics is a powerful data gathering and marketing tool. But what can you expect it to do for your small business?

 

Below are some musings on my experience with Analytics and how it helps me develop business concepts, modify campaigns and improve website designs.

 

(Note:  Analytics is far too vast to explain in detail here.  Google provides free tutorials through its Analytics Academy and Lynda.com offers an excellent paid course.)

 

Know Your Audience

One of the great achievements of any marketing campaign is the ability to think exactly as your target audience does.  But intuition and empathy only go so far.

 

Analytics shows you who your audience is and how they respond to your content. Get data on visitors including:

 

  • Age and gender
  • Location
  • Interests (based on affinity and marketing segments)
  • Device used
  • Time spent on your website and each page
  • Navigation patterns
  • Completion of events (like watching a video)
  • New vs returning visitors
  • Referral traffic
  • Campaign-based traffic
  • Activity in real-time
  • Landing and exit pages
  • Conversions
  • Navigation paths to your conversion goal

Each of these in turn breaks down into more granular or custom made reports. In short, you can get a pretty clear picture of who came to your website, how they got there and how they responded to your content.

 

You can know if they came on-site and immediately left.  If they visited your site many times via different traffic channels.  Compare any time periods.

 

Perhaps most importantly for a business, you can track if they took the action you wanted them to take - aka the conversion.  A form fill, a purchase, a download - whatever your conversion goal is, you must track it.

 

More of What Works

While all this data may seem complex, for website marketing the goal is quite simple.

 

At my agency Marketing 360®, we live by a simple axiom:

 

Marketing is about doing more of what works and less of what doesn't. 

 

That sums-up what you're trying to achieve with this data. It tells you how people behave on your website, so you can test different types of content, wording, layouts, and campaigns.  Overtime, you learn what's most effective.

 

When you identify a channel or content type that does well, you want to build off that knowledge and highlight it. On the other hand, when you see content that visitors clearly don't respond to, you want to modify or cut it.

 

Not a Crystal Ball

It's easy to get caught-up in this powerful tool. If you go through some of the tutorials, you'll be amazed at how you can track and use the array of data.

 

However, it's worth noting that Google Analytics isn't a magic wand that will guarantee your success.

 

First, remember that data - in general - is not a crystal ball. It does a fantastic job of telling you the results of what you're doing, but it cannot tell you what to do.

 

Say you design a landing page and the data suggests it's bombing. High bounce rate, low-time on page, not funneling toward conversion - it's a dud.  What do you do?

 

Maybe your copy is wordy and dry. Your navigation is confusing. Perhaps your call-to-action is weak.

 

Maybe your video is too long. Or graphics are dragging down your page-load times.

 

Could be that your product isn't interesting - you're not reaching the right audience.

 

Analytics will indicate you have some of these problems, but you have to use your marketing instincts and experience to know what to do about them.

 

A lot of beginners think Google is going to figure out their marketing concept for them. It won't. You have to test and be prepared to move through a process of trial and error to find your most effective content. The process gets involved, which is why many business owners hire consultants to help them out.

 

Overall, Analytics is detailed and accurate enough for you to feel confident in the picture it presents about your website traffic and visitor behavior. Be smart about how you use that data, and your marketing efforts will surely benefit.