Are visitors to your website converting into actual customers? A popular adage says you can’t manage what you don’t measure – this is especially true with website analytics.
Analytics answers important questions such as:
- Where are my website visitors arriving from?
- What do users do while they’re visiting my site?
- Are visitors completing important goals such as e-commerce purchases or lead form submissions?
For this article, we will focus on Google Analytics (UA) setup and information able to be derived from basic reports. However, feel free to reach out with questions regarding more advanced topics such as view/filter strategies, e-commerce analytics or Google Analytics 4.
Getting Started with Website Analytics
If you don’t have an analytics provider for your website yet, the first step is selecting one and adding it on your site. By far, Google Analytics (“GA”) is the most popular provider and is free for most websites.
A GA account can be set up via analytics.google.com and Google’s support resources. Once an account is created, a unique code will be provided to place on your site. Most website providers such as WordPress and Wix offer places in their settings to easily add this code. For more advanced users, Google Tag Manager is also a great option for adding code.
Popular Website Analytics Reports
Once GA is connected to your website and data begins coming in, you can begin learning more about users via reports and identify trends you can leverage to optimize your website and user experience.
*As you review reports, keep in mind to adjust the date parameters in the top right area of the GA interface to confirm/alter the date range of the data you want to analyze.
Realtime reports offer live insight into visitors browsing your website at that current moment. Though these reports are typically used for testing purposes or for monitoring traffic during breaking news or product releases for larger websites, it’s still a neat feature to explore.
Audience reports provide detailed information about your user base including their demographics, interests, location and device type. While the information is neat in and of itself, consider its marketing applications:
- Does this data match your impression of your typical customer base and their behaviors?
- Is a certain audience segment underperforming on your website? Why might that be?
- Are users from mobile devices engaging at a weaker level than other users, potentially due to a poor mobile experience?
Acquisition-based reports are admittedly among my favorites. Simply put, these reports indicate where website traffic arrives from and allows you to compare metrics among visitors originating from different sources.
For example, do users who visit your website from a link on social media tend to leave your site quicker than visitors who found your site from a Google Search? For visitors from search engines, discover which keywords they use to find your website and which terms typically lead to more conversions; this information is incredibly useful for both paid and organic search initiatives.
Behavior reports share how visitors engage with your site including which pages they visit. These reports are especially insightful for conversion-oriented pages such as checkout pages, indicating if a significant number of users leave or “drop off” during a typical conversion funnel.
For example, if many users reach a cart or checkout page but do not actually complete a purchase, it may point to a technical issue with your site or a deterring customer experience occurring prior to order completion.
Conversion reports answer the most important question: so what? While it’s great to garner high amounts of site traffic and strong user engagement, your website needs to advance key KPIs of your business such as:
- How many lead forms are submitted and from what traffic sources?
- For e-commerce sites, how many sales are being generated, and what is the average revenue from each traffic source?
GA offers the ability to set up and track several goal types including if users arrive at a certain page such as a checkout confirmation page, if visitors stay on-site for a specified period of time, and if users complete specific actions while on-site such as playing a video or submitting a form. These conversions can then be integrated with advertising platforms such as Google Ads to provide ROI data specific to individual campaigns.
Website analytics provides incredibly insightful information on website visitors as well as opportunities to optimize your website and your marketing initiatives. Ensure an analytics package is installed on your business’s website today and review high-level analytics data on a consistent basis. Many providers make this easy with configurable reports that can be emailed on a recurring basis.