We often get asked, with so many reports and KPI’s in Google Analytics, what are the most important ones to review and track?  Great question.  We like to break it down into four questions:

  • Where did people come to your site from?
  • What page did they land on?
  • What did they do after that?
  • And what conversion goals were completed during their session?

We’ll look at reports to get to an answer for each question here, but first it’s helpful to recall exactly what Google Analytics can study and what it can’t.  In a nutshell, we can see WHAT people did and WHERE they came from… but not WHY.  Why people bounced or stayed and took a step closer to becoming a customer goes to questions of behavior and you need to hear direct from your clients and prospects to get to those answers.

We like the service HotJar for behavioral analysis and it provides heatmaps and survey tools to help you get answers.  We were just benchmarking Tony Robbins coaching site for a business coach client and saw that he used HotJar pop-up surveys to ask “Did you find what you needed here today?” with a following why or why not question.  Analytics will not give you those answers so we’ll review in a future post.

Google Analytics:  Where did people come to your site from?

What report to review:  We’re keeping it simple in this article, so we’ll just look under acquisition at All Traffic:Channels.  Here we see five “channel” sources:  Organic (SEO related); Direct (typed in); social; referral; (backlinks); and email  — all smart campaign focus areas:

Google Analytics Sources

Some conclusions and content strategy adjustments:  Looking at the right side, for “goal completions” where goals include time on site, number of pages viewed, lead forms captured and others, we can review why Email and social media total goal completions were  were low during the time period for review.  We can also seek to boost engagement at this site because we see that when visitors arrived from Organic Search, the after pages per session were 1.2.

Google Analytics:   What page did they land on?

What report to review:  Here we look at the Behavior:Site Content:Landing pages report.  We like to sort by goal completions so we can see a list of the top performing pages:

Analytics Landing Pages Report

Some conclusions and content strategy adjustments:  For those of you that do Blog Marketing — a part of Content Marketing — this report is key because you can learn what posts may have led new visitors (new sessions) to complete site goals you have set.  The top seven landing pages in terms of goal performance show three posts as winners for engagement (we know this because the URL for this blog is “online-marketing”).  But next we need to look at under performers and consider what we might do on those pages and posts to increase their goal results.

Google Analytics:  What did they do after landing on the first page at your site?

What report to review:  The preceding report gives you some clues for the answer here, showing bounce rate (did they leave?) , pages per session, and goal results. Then we like to visualize “flow” through your site under Behavior:Behavior Flow:

Behavior Flow in Google Analytics

Some conclusions and content strategy adjustments:  In the above report we can see where visitors started, where they went next, and when you over over a location you see the pop-up box shown with a pie chart for those that drop off at that point or keep going (“Through Traffic”).  Are they flowing to the right location?  Why not?  What elements can you at to your pages to adjust the flow?

Google Analytics:  what conversion goals were completed during a visitor’s session?

What report to review:  Our fourth report gets right to the money in ROI for your marketing efforts.  We look under Conversions at Goals:Overview and see:

Analytics Goals Overview

Some conclusions and content strategy adjustments:  If you’ve set realistic dollar values for your goals, you can see what your work should bring your company during a set time period.  It’s all based on what fees you may charge for products and services.  One example is that if you have a service fee of $2000 and one in ten people that fill our a contact form become a $2000 paying customer, then each lead from that contact form is worth $200.  That is how you keep it real.  In this report, we should be asking ourselves how to increase goal completions and conversion rates and lower the total abandonment rate.

Scott Frangos
Scott Frangos

Scott serves as CMO & Chief Optimizer on the Webdirexion LLC agency digital marketing team for both development and content marketing strategy, and is the author of the new book, “The Marketer’s Concise Guide to CRO” (Oct. 2015). He is a career marketing communications professional with niche industry specialties in healthcare, law firms, and hotel marketing and holds recent certifications in Google Analytics Mastery (Udemy), and RACE Digital Marketing (Smart Insights).  He is currently working toward Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) in Digital Marketing through the American Marketing Association which also requires annual training and 3-year recertification.

Scott has also taught business, web programming and eCommerce courses at colleges in the Portland, Oregon area. He currently teaches WordPress Content Marketing Power, an online course through Udemy, and has spoken at several Content Marketing conferences.  When he is not geeking out on a Mac, Nexus 7, or Google Chromebook, he enjoys Tai Chi, walking with his dog (Steggman), and camping trips.  Scott says he survives on Coffee and Pizza.

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