by James Councill:
In Part 1 of the Beginners Guide to Google Analytics (GA), we reviewed what GA is and some very basic terminology and metrics you should review on a regular basis to evaluate your website’s (or app’s) performance. In Part 2, we are going to look deeper into the Audience and Acquisition sections of GA to find out more about your website’s users, as well as how they are navigating to your website.
We started in the Audience Tab, looking at how many sessions your website has during a given time period.
Tracking this consistently every month will help you evaluate your marketing success or lack thereof. However, there are some subsections of the Audience Tab that can provide you with some invaluable information to help you understand your audience, who/where they are, and how to best reach them. Without detailing every subset, let’s look at some of the most used and valuable information that can be deduced from these reports.
- Demographics – What age and gender are the users who are visiting your website?
- Interests – What are users interested in, and what affinity categories and market segments do they fall into?
- Geo – Where are users geographically located and what language do they speak?
- Behavior – New (first-time) users versus returning users, how are they engaging your website?
- Technology – what browsers and networks?
- Mobile – what devices are being used to access your website?
- Benchmarking – how your sites statistics compare to other aggregated industry data?
How is all of this information useful? Well, knowing your customer is key to your marketing strategy. The market segmentation statistics provide you with user profile(s). Knowing where your customers are, what language they speak, the technology they use, their demographic and affinity profiles also allow you to put together targeted ads. For example, if you want to run some ads for your website, you may want to target those ads based on the information provided above, or you may realize that you need to target your ads elsewhere to break into a new market segment. Either way, this information provided by GA about your audience gives you the knowledge to make these well-informed decisions.
The Audience Tab gives detailed insights into your website audience, but you also need to know where these users are coming from and how they are reaching your website? In Part 1 of this article, we overviewed the Acquisition Tab, its terminology and how it provides you with this information through defined presets of channels, sources, and mediums. Like the Audience Tab, there is the Overview report, and a few subsections that breakdown your website’s user acquisition into more detailed reports. There are however, certain sections that do not apply to everyone. Adwords only applies if you are running paid ads through Google Adwords, and if you have both of these apps connected (highly recommended by the way). Most other subsections apply to all websites, with the exception of Paid Keywords and Cost Analysis, which are again reserved for paid advertising. Let’s take a look at the most commonly used subsections:
- All Traffic – All Traffic tells you how someone discovered your site. It includes everything – from someone typing your URL into their browser, as well as search engine result pages (SERPs), email, social networks, or referrals from other websites.
- Search Engine Optimization – what queries and keywords are being searched to find your website, landing pages, and a geographical summary related to those queries as well.
The SEO reports provides the search queries and keywords that have resulted in a URL from your website showing up in a user’s search engine results, along with the impressions and clicks for that query. This provides you with valuable keyword research data that can be very useful for paid search campaigns and content optimization.
- Social – provides social analytics.
On the surface, this subsection can tell you which social networks are providing you with the most website traffic. This alone is valuable, but it also “provides you with the tools to measure the impact of social. You can identify high value networks and content, track on-site and off-site user interaction with your content, and tie it all back to your bottom line revenue through goals and conversions.” – Google Anlaytics Help Forum. Goals and conversion go beyond the scope of this article, but as you become more proficient with GA , I encourage you to start looking into these concepts.
- Campaigns – Campaign tracking is mainly for tracking paid advertising, but is also very practical for tracking un-paid or custom campaigns, such as email marketing or paid campaigns that are not Google Adwords. Through the process of URL tagging, you can designate certain parameters to URLs for the purpose of tracking that URL and the traffic it is responsible for.
For example, let’s say you want to run a banner ad on the local weather station’s website for your Open Water Scuba Diving Class. Earlier, we learned that you can look at your website’s traffic referrals to see how much traffic is coming from the local weather station’s website, but that doesn’t really tell you how your ad is performing – does it? By designating the URL for that ad with a campaign tag, you can find out exactly how many sessions or users came from that ad. Once we setup conversion tracking, we will then be able to tell if the money you are spending on the ad is generating enough revenue to cover the ad spend or ROI? This, again is getting into concepts that are beyond the scope of this article, but just something for you to be thinking of in advance. Stay tuned for more…
Are there other GA concepts that you would like help understanding? Are there questions about the concepts addressed or not addressed in this article? Please leave your comments below, and we will do our best to answer them.