Recently I was lucky enough to speak at the MN Blogger Conference. I was really excited to be picked. Bloggers are an amazing group of people. Most bloggers get started out of a serious passion for something. This is something I can relate to because I am also very passionate about something. That something is marketing (and blues music). So I was very excited to share some of that passion with this crew.
Using the Force of Google Analytics
The title of my presentation was, “Using the Force of Google Analytics.” The purpose of the talk was to help bloggers understand that Analytics is more than hits and visits but ultimately a powerful tool that you can use to make sure that your website is meeting your business goals and to analyze the performance of your content.
A Crowded Web
Using Analytics is more important than ever. Why? Well, the web is crowded. You can watch movies on the internet, listen to podcasts, read everything, shop, connect with friends, play games, enjoy virtual reality, pretty much anything you can imagine… On top of that there are a million marketing tactics that you can throw into the mix. You probably use social media, SEO, paid ads, AdWords, email, and more…. So with all of that going on marketers and content creators can get overwhelmed. How do you know what works? How do you know what content brings people in the doors? How do you know you’re doing it right?
Analytics Out of the Box
Before we get into all of that let’s talk about the standard “out of the box” Google Analytics. It’s great, right? It’s free, and easy to put on your website. And without any extra work you can know where people came from and what they looked at. You can know how long they stayed on your site and a bunch of other stuff that is kind of fun to know. The catch is that it doesn’t tell you anything about your business goals or help you analyze your marketing efforts.
A Better Way To Configure Analytics
So how do we make Google Analytics better? Well, there’s a lot that will go into this but when it comes to content and marketing there are a few things I want to focus on.
1. Goal Tracking
Goals help us understand if our website visitors have taken the action that we wanted them to take. For example, did your website visitor fill out a for, or buy something, or download something? Basically, did they do something that you wanted them to do?
It’s pretty easy to set up and I’ve written on how to do it in this old post on Google Analytics goal tracking. When you have it all done it looks something like this.
So Now You Know…
Now you know what traffic channels create leads. This means that when you are trying to decide what channel should get more of your attention and what channels you should stop focusing on you’ll be able to make an educated decision.
A Better Way to Measure Channels
As you might guess, there’s a better way to measure channels too.
Under default channels, Google Analytics uses some very broad generalizations. For example, if the traffic comes from a search engine site and doesn’t click on an ad to get to your site, it’s considered “Organic Search” Traffic. This is all fine and good if all search traffic is the same. The problem is, that not all search traffic is created equal.
Think about how you search when you are looking for information from a business you are familiar with. For example, say you’re are looking for Vivid Image’s phone number. You might search for “Vivid Image Hutchinson phone number.” When you do that you might find the answer in the search results or you’ll end up on the Contact Us page. In this situation, you are very likely to contact our business. You are very likely to trust us and engage with us.
Now let’s say you’re looking for, “how to find your most popular content using Google Analytics.” You will see a bunch of results from various websites. If you happen to click on the result that leads your to Vivid Image you’ll more than likely get your answer and leave. That’s fine. You’re trying to complete a task, and we are happy to help through our blog post. You’re very much less likely to contact us or to engage with us in any further capacity (P.S. I know all this because watch our Analytics).
This is just one example. To go a step further, if you place an ad on Facebook and pay for traffic that paid traffic get’s lumped in with all the other traffic you generate through Facebook. When in reality ad traffic is traffic you are paying for and it better act the way you want it to or you are wasting money.
Enter Custom Channels
Custom channels allow you still analyze large chunks of traffic by grouping them together but you can group them together in a way that makes a lot more sense. For more on custom channels check out this ridiculously awesome guide created by Seer Interactive.
If you really dig into the wonders of custom channels you’ll also have to know a bit about tagging links with UTM. We’ve written about UTMs before in this post.
What Does Your Audience Like and What Drives Leads?
Finally, we dive into content groupings. After all, would I really go to a blog conference and not bring up content?
In Google Analytics you can analyze content on a page by page basis. That’s fine when you want to make changes on a page by page basis but, what if you wanted to know about the trends in your content when it comes to general subject matter? For example, do people visit this site looking for info about Facebook or info about Google Analytics?
For more on content groupings feel free to check out this great post from Justin Cutroni.
That About Sums it Up
If you would like to know more about any of these tweaks to Google Analytics or if you would like to have this presentation given at your next event feel free to contact me.
If you’d like to look through the slides, here they are…