Last week, we talked about whether or not printed marketing materials are a thing of the past. Although I believe printed materials still play a key part in an aggressive marketing campaign, there is no denying that our digital marketing efforts are now a better way to reach our customers in a very targeted fashion.
As we transition more and more to digital marketing, it is critical that you have a way to tell what is working and what is not. That is where website analytics becomes a critical component to analyzing where your website traffic is coming from.
For those not familiar with website analytics, it is simply a web-based dashboard that will report on dozens of very useful statistics about the visitors to your website including:
How they got to your website (from social media, Google search, link from other site, etc.)
How long they spent on your website
How many people visited your website
If they are a new or returning visitor
What pages they visited
What geographic area they live in
Age range of visitor
Much, Much, More!
This information is critical to making decisions about what is working and what is not working in your digital marketing efforts and will give you an excellent picture of the effectiveness of your site.
The most popular analytics package out there is Google Analytics and it is totally free. It is also very easy to setup. Find out more information at https://analytics.google.com. It is also extremely simple to implement into a website. If you use WordPress, you simply add the Google Analytics widget to your site and put in the unique code that was provided by Google when you setup your analytics account. For other types of websites, Google provides you with a few lines of code that you can be pasted into your site. If you pay someone to manage your site, they will know how to add this if it isn’t in place yet.
Here are some snapshots of the type of information Google Analytics can provide you:
Above, you'll see one of the main dashboards that gives you a quick view of your website activity. It provides the number of unique visitors, how many pages they visited on average while they were on your site, the average length of time spent on your site, and the bounce rate. The “bounce rate” is the number of visitors that get to your site and don’t click on anything before leaving. Some warning signs that your digital marketing is not working would be low traffic based on number of users, session duration average under 1 minute, or a very high bounce rate. The average bounce rate for a website is 40-60% so you should be concerned if you are over 70%, especially if your average session duration is very low.
Above, you'll see the overview dashboard for acquisition (how people found their way to your site). You will see 5 categories:
Social – They clicked through from an Ad or a post from any social media platform from any device.
Direct - You would think this would mean that the users typed your website address into their bar to get to your site and you would be partially right. This indeed would account for a percentage of this traffic, but a small percentage. This is also the category that Google uses for traffic they cannot determine the source of that could include the use of a tool to shorten the URL such as Bitly, some mobile social media apps, clicking a link in an email in some cases, and several others. This is their catch-all for traffic that you won’t necessarily have a clear picture of. For the example below, most of this traffic was due to shortened URL’s. If that would not have been used, analytics would have been able to figure out much of this traffic.
Email - If you have a mailing list and send out emails that contain links to your website, Google Analytics has the ability to track how much of your traffic is coming from that source. You can even set it up to know how much traffic you got based on a single email if you would like.
Referral - This would be from another domain referring traffic directly to your site.
Organic Search - This would be the category where someone found you through an internet search using key words.
Social Category Details
On anyone of these categories shown above, you can drill down further. This one is a look at Social on this site. This is great information to help me understand which of my social media efforts are producing the most visitors. You will see on this site that Facebook is by far the highest, but if you look closer, it appears Pinterest is producing the highest quality candidates based on low bounce rate and extremely high session duration.
Above, you'll see another helpful dashboard that tells me what devices are being used by the website guests. A high bounce rate on mobile (like you see below) can mean that your website is not optimized at all for mobile devices, or is not optimized very well.
This only scratches the surface of the data that a website analytics application can provide. The bottom line is this: if you don’t have visibility to how your guests are finding your site, you should absolutely get a system implemented as soon as possible. Armed with these statistics, you can know what marketing efforts are providing good results.