If Google Analytics only tracks metrics for your website, can it really be that useful when determining your overall marketing strategy? For me, yes. While it is not the only thing that I consult when I begin mapping out the marketing strategy for my customers, it is certainly one of the first things I consult. Here are just a few ways that you can use Google Analytics to plan your marketing.
If you are not familiar with Google Analytics, start with these posts How to Use Google Analytics Part 1 and How to Use Google Analytics Part 2. While Google has made some changes since I wrote these posts, the basics are still pretty much the same. Google also offers a wealth of good Google Analytics tutorials.
1. How Did We Do Last Year?
I look at monthly metrics with my customers, but I also pull an annual report at the end of the year. This report alone will not give me the full picture, but it does give some basic feedback on how marketing efforts worked (or didn’t work) the previous year. I look at simple things like the number of sessions (basically the times people were on the site) and users, as well as what types of avenues brought visitors to the site. This basic report gives me a starting point for the next year’s marketing plan.
2. Are We Still Making the Right Social Media Choices?
At the end of the year, Amanda , Katie, and I had our yearly discussion about our social media channels. Were we using the right ones? Were we producing the right content? We used the media metrics from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the other accounts, but we also used our Google Analytics reports to answer these questions. Google has added several really great social media tools in the reports that allow you to see not only the amount of traffic you get from your social media accounts, but what those people are doing once they get on your site. Using the secondary dimension option, we were able to see what web content was popular among our social media visitors and make decisions about what we needed to do differently in 2015.
3. Am I Missing Opportunities for More Sales?
For most industries, the days of a prospective customer meeting with you face-to-face for a sales call before they’ve checked out your website are gone. As we’ve said before, your website is your first impression. It is a reliable receptionist, sales guru, and support rep all rolled up in one neat little package. With your website in that sales role, it is just as important to make sure that it is telling the right story and seizing opportunities as customer needs change.
What Google Analytics can tell you about your website as a sales tool is how your customers are using your site. You can look at the Behavior reports to see what pages on your website are the most popular and what pages causes the most exits (did they find the answer or did they give up?). At Red Sage, we may think that website development is our most popular service, but the reports may tell us that actually more people are looking at our branding services page and reading our branding related blogs.
4. How Did Someone in California Find Our Site and Should We Put Marketing Dollars There?
For one of my customers, I pull a location report every month because they are interested in seeing where the site visitors are located. When they are bidding on projects, they want to know if they are getting visits from the prospective customer’s location.
If you are considering a Google AdWords or Facebook ad campaign, this report can be invaluable to determining the best campaign for you. You can see if there are locations that are already producing strong numbers of customers and using the secondary dimension feature, you can see what pages those visitors are looking at. That means, if you see that California is one of your top states and they are loving the smoker tables you are selling, you can do a targeted campaign there to capture more of that market.
5. A Bonus Webmasters Tool Tip: What keywords is my site already showing up for?
If you already have a Google Analytics account, consider getting a Google Webmaster Tools account too. One of my favorite reports that is Google Webmaster Tools is the Search Queries report. Where Google Analytics will show you some of the keywords that people used to find your site, the Search Queries report shows you what keywords your site shows up for regardless of whether people actually visited your site. Better yet – it shows you on average where your site ranks in the results. This can help you determine whether you need to make changes to your SEO and web content activities or start a pay-per-click advertising campaign.
These are just a few of the many of the ways you can use Google Analytics reports for your marketing strategy. As I do with my customers, I encourage you to actively use your Google Analytics reports and start looking at it as more than just website statistics. If you’re using the reports in an interesting way or would like to get some help in finding answers, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or share them in the comments area below.