When used properly, Google Analytics is an extremely powerful (and free!) tool. It helps you to measure the success of your PR and marketing activity against your objectives.
However, if you aren’t familiar with it, it can be overwhelming. You need to understand exactly which of the many features and stats you need to know, where to find them and what they mean. To help, we’ve put together some of the most useful tools within Google Analytics and how to use them to measure and improve your activity.
After all, the more you measure, the more informed your marketing decisions will be, improving your ROI.
Which version of Google Analytics are you using?
If you’ve only recently set up your Google Analytics account, it’s likely you’ll be operating in the latest version: GA4.
GA4 was recently developed (soft launch late 2020) to offer a more logical approach to evaluation. It follows your website traffic right through from its source to conversion. However, as this is still in its Beta testing phase, we will be referencing both GA4 and the original format below.
Here’s how to tell which version you’re using at the moment:
Original: when you log in, down the left hand side of your screen, you’ll see menus including ‘real-time’, ‘audience’, ‘acquisition’, ‘behaviour’ and ‘conversions’.
GA4: when you log in, down the left hand side of your screen, you’ll see menus including ‘acquisition’, ‘engagement’, ‘monetisation’ and ‘retention’.
Getting to grips with Google Analytics...
The key terminology
- Users – the number of visits to your site.
- New users – the number of first-time visits to your site (this data is reliant on users enabling cookies on your site) .
- Sessions – groups of user actions when they visit your site, eg looking at your blogs, reading your case studies or clicking ‘get in touch’.
- Page views – the total number of page views your site (or a particular page) has.
- Bounce rate – the percentage of users that have ‘bounced’ off your site without clicking anything (ie they landed on your website and left before completing any further actions).
- Users and new users (as above).
- Engaged sessions – sessions lasting longer than 10 seconds, or where a user completes a conversion event.
- User Stickiness – a ratio of daily active users/monthly active users (ie the portion of monthly users present on any given day).
- Revenue – the value of conversions to your business. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean a direct sale, but it could be an event booking, PDF download, etc that you have attributed a value to.
The key measurements and how to read them
1. Goals/events and conversions
(Found under conversions – goals, or engagement – events/conversions).
Here you can set up what you deem to be a key goal or event for your site (something you want users to do while visiting your site). For example, if your aim was to encourage people to get in touch, you can set up your contact form submission page as a ‘goal’. This means that when people reach it, they have ‘converted’ from a lead to a prospect.
By setting up goals, you can compare month on month vs year on year how well your users are converting. You can also add in annotations to the graph if you’re starting a new social media campaign, to test how this affects your goal conversions, for example.
You can find a guide to setting up goals here.
For GA4, you can find a guide to setting up events here.
2. Specific page statistics
(Found under behaviour – site content – all pages, or engagement – pages and screens)
Page metrics can tell you exactly how a specific page of your website is performing. This is particularly useful when you’re focused on sending your visitors to an individual page – such as a campaign landing page, your case studies or your ‘contact us’ page.
Again, you can add a comparison in to measure a page’s performance now vs one month ago or a year ago. You can also directly compare a page’s performance against other website pages.
This data will highlight your most visited pages and how users engage with these, allowing you to prioritise any improvements or changes to your website. It will also show any pages with a particularly high bounce rate or low engagement rate, so you can take a look at your call-to-actions to see if they’re strong enough.
3. Referral traffic
(Found under acquisition – all traffic – referrals, or acquisition – traffic acquisition – session source)
One of the most valuable tools in Google Analytics is the ability to see where your traffic is coming from. For example, if you’ve put an article or advert in a digital magazine or you’re simply ramping up your social media activity, Google Analytics will show you the direct referrals you’ve received as a result.
This will help you to determine the quantity and quality of referrals to your website as a direct result of your marketing activity, allowing you to make an informed decision as to whether it was a success or not.
Putting it into practice
There are so many different tools and statistics in Google Analytics, and it can be tricky not to get ‘bogged down’ in the data.
Start by setting measurable objectives: be clear about what it is you want your marketing activity to achieve. Translate those objectives into goals in Google Analytics so you can track your progress towards them easily. Then monitor individual pages and site referrals to test how well you’re working in line with those goals.
For more support or advice as to how Google Analytics can help get better ROI from your PR and marketing activity, simply fill out the form below or call us on 0121 212 6250.