As a small business owner, you know your website is the face of your business, especially outside of your normal operating hours. But did you know you could use your website to find more information on trends and patterns related to what you do? For example, do you know where your customers are typically coming from? Hopefully Google Analytics has been installed at some point on your website, but if not, it is pretty simple to do using Google Analytics by MonsterInsights if you use WordPress, or can be set up manually by whoever handles your website (instructions can be found on Google’s website).
Once you have Google Analytics installed, and you log into your dashboard, it can be overwhelming, especially when you take one look at it and realize how many different pieces of information it is collecting for you as you go about your week. It’s working even when you don’t have the time to dedicate to your website! Over time, this information becomes more valuable for reasons described below, but even if it has only been a week of information collected, you can begin to identify some patterns. Here are four things you should look out for and how they can help you determine the effects of your marketing on your small business.
1. Number of Unique Visitors
With Sessions, Users and Pageviews all displayed on the first page on your dashboard, which number do you go with?
According to Google, “a session is defined as the group of interactions one user takes within a given timeframe on your website.” Typically, with Google Analytics, that timeframe is 30 minutes. Pageviews, on the other hand, are the total number of pages viewed by any user. Meanwhile, your users can also be considered the number of unique visitors that your website has had that month.
This means that one user could have multiple sessions, and, of course, the number of pageviews is going to fluctuate depending on how many pages people have visited on your site. Therefore, when deciding on what number to go with to describe the number of visitors your website has had in the timeframe you select, you should go with users.
This can help determine patterns in the long-term; for example, do you have a seasonal drop in visitors during a certain time of the year? We typically see visits dip during the holiday season (but if you run an e-commerce site, this could be the exception). Once you have gathered a year’s worth of data, you can determine whether or not it is a typical occurrence or something you should look into. You can also determine when you might need a campaign to boost some traction to your website based on these patterns.
Under Audience, there is an option to view the Geo, and then Location your visitors are typically visiting from. In location, you can first drill down by country, then once you click the United States, you can select by state and furthermore by actual city. This is a wealth of knowledge that can be helpful when deciding where to target your marketing efforts, or if you reached out to a particular location, to make sure you are actually garnering visitors from that area.
Learn more about how your visitors are finding you! If you view Acquisition in Google Analytics, you can learn more information on how your visitors arrived at your site. The typical four buckets are: direct, referral, organic search and social. Direct visitors either have typed your address directly into their web address box, hit a bookmark on their computer or it’s possible that Google Analytics is not sure where they came from so they are placed in this bucket. If someone was referred to your website from another website, it is placed in referral traffic, and same goes for social (someone was brought to your website through social media) and organic search (someone came across your website through a search engine).
Acquisition also gives you a clue on whether your marketing efforts are working (depending on the campaign you are running and how they are arriving at your website). Are you receiving visits from the Facebook campaign that you ran with an increase in social traffic? Is the content/blog post you wrote giving your website an increase in organic traffic? These are questions you can ask yourself as you begin to collect data on where your traffic is coming from, which leads right into the next topic…
4. Site Content
Under Behavior, click Site Content and then All Pages and Google will tell you what pages are most popular on your site. Yes, I did just say that. Pages that are most visited, most popular and you know what else? It can help you determine what people are most interested in, what they want more information about and what will keep them coming again (and hopefully again and again). So if you fall into a rut on what resonates most with your customers, just take a look at what pages are most viewed. It may surprise you, and you may have to make some adjustments, but at least you know you are targeting the most of your fan base with the information they want to know.
So among the wealth of information that Google Analytics can provide, if you decide only to check on four things within your account, this is a great place to start. Check out your number of users, where they are coming from (geo-location), how they got there (acquisition) and what pages they are viewing (site content). This will give you a well-rounded view of your visitors, how you can best find them and help them with their frustrations or give them more information to make an informed decision on your product.