As marketers, we know that the fun and entertaining side to marketing wouldn’t be anything without the slightly less fun and entertaining side: the analytics and the numbers. Because of this, some of us have gone into marketing kicking and screaming (in fact, our very own Susan LaPlante-Dube uses those words about her entrance into marketing “I went in kicking and screaming”… until she realized that the sexiness of marketing was meaningless without analytics and numbers—two of her favorite things).
One of the most important tools all inbound marketers should be using is Google Analytics. Google Analytics (GA) can be used to evaluate user behavior on your website. And in turn, certain behaviors can influence your strategy and be used to tweak current marketing campaigns or drive future efforts.
In this post, I'll be highlighting three of the most common features we use in Google Analytics to gauge the success of not only our inbound marketing campaigns, but also those we run for our customers.
1. Audience Reports
The Audience feature in GA provides insights into certain demographics and behaviors of the users on your website. Would it be important for your business to know where users live geographically? How about the keywords they're using in searches that are directing them to you? The Audience feature in Google Analytics can help you to determine those characteristics and more such as:
- Geographic location (continent, country, region, city)
- Number of visits
- How often they visit
- Average time on page
- How much time between visits
- What device they are using to enter your site: mobile, desktop, tablet: (side note: ensure that your site is mobile ready)
- Visits by search engine
- Keywords visitors are using to enter your site
This type of data could and should assist your inbound marketing efforts. If a large number of users are coming to your website via a certain keyword, perhaps an offer built around that keyword could drive visit-to-lead conversions. Or perhaps the data reveals that a large number of visits are coming from a particular region. This information may drive a geographic-specific inbound marketing campaign.
2. Bounce Rates
The average time spent on a page and a page's bounce rate indicate how engaging your website pages are. You can use these metrics to pinpoint lower performing pages that need improvement, as well as high performing pages that can help to guide the design for those pages in need of a change.
Bounce rate is also a critical factor that Google considers when determining the overall quality of a website. So if your bounce rate is high (over 30% at the page level), Google may be less likely to serve your website up to folks searching for your solutions to their problems.
However, it's also important to recognize the combination of bounce rates with average time on page. If users are on a page for a couple of minutes but then bounce off, put yourself in the user’s shoes and ask yourself why? Is the next step unclear? Is there not an explicitly defined conversion path? The answers may not jump out at you and that’s okay. Test one possibility and then another, all the while studying those bounce rates.
Some other possible reasons for high bounce rate:
- Is the overall message on the page clear?
- Can the user decipher that message within a few seconds?
- Is there a clear Call-to-Action on the page? Does the user know what to do next?
- Is the copy engaging and compelling?
- Too much white space? Too little white space?
- Is the length of the form matched to the value of the offer?
- Do the images match the message?
- Is the message continued throughout the H1 (typically the page's headline), the body copy, the CTA and the form?
Let's take a look at this example of a GA bounce rate chart for an employment service company.
Of their top 10 entry pages, all but one have a high bounce rate (over 30%). Because these are “entry” pages, this means that users arrived on the website via that page. The bounce rate means they also left the website without ever visiting another page on the site.
When evaluating bounce rate, you also want to take into account the actual time the user spent on the page. In this example, the team page has the highest bounce rate at 87%—but people spend 2 minutes and 26 seconds on that page—so we know they are reading the copy. What we need to figure out is why they are leaving the site after reading it. If the goal is to keep people on the site, we need to include Call-to-Action or internal links to keep users around. These metrics will drive our next steps.
3. New Visitors vs. Returning Visitors
A third feature Google Analytics provides is a chart comparing new versus returning visitors. There are no industry standards for this particular metric, but our experience at PMG has been that successful websites have a balance of roughly 65% new to 35% returning visitors. This number is a nice balance between having an engaged audience and constantly bringing in new opportunities.
If you only have new visitors coming to your site (who are not returning), it’s clearly very important to figure out why that is the case. Is the design not engaging enough? Is the content not what they're looking for? Is the site not navigable?
Returning traffic is important because these users are typically more engaged – they spend more time on the site, they view more pages and they bounce off at a lower rate. Again, maintaining a balance between the two is the key. If you are not experiencing that balance, ask yourself:
- Are you continuing to attract enough new people looking for a solution to our problem?
- Are you attracting enough new quality visitors?
- Once you attract new visitors, are you getting them to convert into a lead (so you can continue to nurture them down your funnel)?
- Are you continuing to send them relevant content that drives them back to your website?
Email marketing, social media and creating great content that people want to engage with will keep people coming back so you can continue to market to them!
There is certainly no rulebook to follow when analyzing these types of numbers. Over time, it may make sense for your business to determine goals that match what your business is trying to achieve overall. Is your goal to drive more traffic to the site? Lower bounce rates? More conversions? Better quality conversions? Determine your goals, use tools like GA to track your numbers today, tweak and update, and compare numbers one month, three months, and one year down the road.
Do you need help with analyzing your marketing metrics? Let’s chat! We also provide complimentary website / inbound marketing assessments to qualifying B2B companies who fit our business model.