You probably have a Google Analytics account, but if you’re not a search marketing wizard you’ve probably only used it to see at a high level how much traffic you’re getting, and where in general your visitors are coming from. Google Analytics can do much, much more though. While this isn’t intended to be a guide to using advanced features of Analytics, I’m going to show you a few tricks that can really make the info you get out of it work for you.
Knowing where your visitors are coming from, and expanding these channels, can make a huge difference to not only your traffic, but your conversions as well.
To illustrate my points I’ll be using data from one of my own sites, a fledgling retail site in a developing country. The site is spending about $100 a month on AdWords, and has spent a few hundred on sponsored posts and things like that, but has done little off-site SEO due to resource constraints.
Get to Know Your Sources
The above is a table you should be familiar with – top 10 traffic sources. As you can see, Google organic traffic is by far the biggest, but there are quite a few referrals that are performing as well (about 25% of traffic).
But can you spot the anomaly? The referrer in line 9 sends traffic with a much lower time on site, which means those visitors aren’t finding what they were expecting, and leaving. That’s interesting, but because the numbers are so low, and it’s not across the board, we don’t have to worry about it.
Clearly, from this graph it’s obvious that there’s something to building up these referrals. We got most of them from paying around $50 apiece for sponsored posts. Over 3 months, those investments have definitely paid for themselves when our conversion rate of around 1% is considered.
Understanding Your Visitors
Next up I’ve got two simple sets of data you can pull straight from the Traffic Sources dashboard. The first is the browsers people are using:
The point of this exercise is to see whether or not you’re effectively catering to visitors. We can see that most visitors are using IE, but that Firefox and Chrome make up an equally-large share. Since IE and the others treat web pages quite differently, we had better make sure we look good in all three (four if you add in Safari).
The site doesn’t have a mobile page yet, but considering that those visitors are only about 5%, it’s not really worth investing in right now.
Another good way to check if browser issues are affecting site performance is to change the dropdown “Contribution to Total” to another metric, such as New Visits or Time on Site. If you discover that one of these drops significantly for any browser that means you have a problem with that browser that is affecting visitor experience.
Another metric I’m going to show you, which is a little more complex, is simply comparing the total visitors with new visits, and with returning visitors. (You can add these segments using the “Advanced Segments” dropdown above your chart).
This tells an interesting story, which I’ve highlighted in yellow. It’s great that we’re getting so many return visitors, but what’s this? The return visitors are performing much better than all other segments. Much lower bounce rate, and much higher time on site. That tells us one important thing: it’s really worth cultivating whatever is driving these return visits.
It also tells us what our marketing strategy should be: we’re getting the return visits automatically, doing little to entice people back to the store. That means we should focus on getting new visitors. If over 20% of visitors return, that means it should be very easy to increase traffic if we just get more exposure.
The last thing I want to show you is a little more complex, and is a conversions report. For this to work, you’ll have to have set up some kind of goal (getting to a page, completing an action), and even then the data might not be conclusive. In this case, it definitely is:
Here I’ve gone to the E-commerce section of the reports, and overlaid Visits with Conversions with Returning Visitors. Now, in this case a conversion isn’t necessarily a sale – it’s either a sale or a newsletter signup. But you can still see something obvious here: on days when there are more return visitors, there’s a bigger chance of desired visitor actions taking place.
This confirms our initial thoughts that return visitors are the most desirable in this case. Knowing where our visitors are coming from, and what to do with that information, will now lead to us being able to exploit those visitors more effectively.