Big data is a wonderful thing. It’s given us amazing insights into how we can market out content better. The only problem is that these revelations are coming so quickly that if you don’t use them you’re going to end up stumbling around directionless in the dark, even while everybody else use what they’re learning to laser in on the right strategy. And then they’ll leave you behind as they shoot for the stars.
That’s really not a situation you want to find yourself in. For that reason, make certain you understand and can use Google Analytics and other data analytic tools to get ahead. New to this area? Then be certain to read through the advice outlined below.
How to read it
Google analytics is broken down into eight areas. These are Dashboards, Shortcuts, Intelligence Events, Real-Time, Audience, Acquisition, Behavior and Conversions and almost all of these, in turn, contain sub sections. Daunted yet? Yes, there is a lot of information in there and you will be better off if at one point you know what most of it means. That doesn’t mean you’re expected to right off the bat, however.
There are three areas which matter most and which we’re going to be looking at. These are: Acquisitions, Audience and Behavior.
The Audience tab
This is where you get your information about your visitors. There are multiple subsections that give you information such as the sex, age and location of your visitors. This will be tremendously useful in establishing who is visiting your website and if they’re actually the people who you want visiting your site. This isn’t the only information available here either, with you being able to uncover such things as their interest, as well as how they’re browsing the site.
Obviously, having the right audience come to your website is crucial (you have defined your target market, haven’t you?). For that reason, take the time to study the demographics (to be found under the demographics sub tab). Then, if you’re finding that you’re attracting the wrong crowds, figure out why you’re bringing them in and how you can change your content to aim it more at your actually intended audience.
Similarly, you can use the Geo information to find out where your visitors are coming from. If you’re finding that they’re not actually coming from your intended market then that’s going to hurt your conversion rate. In this case you’re either going to have to find out how to get less people from out of your area, or – alternatively – expand your market to include this area!
The Acquisitions tab
This area will tell you where people are coming from. What’s interesting here is the ‘all traffic’ tab, which will show you where people are coming from and thereby giving you an idea of where you’re connected. This will allow you to see, for example, if those guest blogs you’re writing actually serve a purpose or are really just a waste of time and that will allow you to drop those that aren’t working.
Note that there are a lot of different sources of traffic. Here’s a quick breakdown.
- These people came to your site by typing your addy in the bar, or from a bookmark on their computer.
- Organic search. These people found you by using a search engine and clicking on your link. You didn’t pay for these.
- Paid search. Here the user clicked on the ads when they were searching for something.
- Here traffic came to you by way of other websites and blogs.
- And this is social media.
- This one too is pretty self-explanatory.
Now that you’re aware of these you can make a concentrated effort to see what type of push will have effects in what areas. Try guest blogging to see if that pushes up referrals. Try boosting yourself in different social platforms to see if that works. And, of course, try out newsletters if you’ve got people’s email addresses.
Do try to be scientific about this. Don’t throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. Instead, push one channel at a time. So if you want to boost your social media, try one month of Facebook, one month of twitter and a month of Instagram (for example). Then see what works compared to the amount of effort you invest.
Similarly, if you’re guest blogging than record what type of content as well as how good you thought the article was. That way you can compare what you thought of your blog posts to how much they increase traffic.
And finally, there’s the behavioral section, which lets you know how people are interacting with your website. This lets you know what is popular and what is less so, thereby making it far easier to decide what you should or shouldn’t be doing.
Which blog posts are popular? Which content makes them move on in the purchasing funnel and which lets them click away? What sites are receiving no intention?
Even better, look at how behavior changes as you change certain elements. If you start using a plug in that advertises new posts as they come towards the end of the page, how much does that raise the likelihood that they stick around? Should it come up ten seconds or twenty seconds before the end? What kinds of posts are best followed up with a call to action and which ones are best left alone? By comparing before and after you can really discover how small tweaks lead your website to be more effective in steering your traffic in the right direction.
And really, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more out there. But hey, at least now you have a foot in the door. You’ve seen how powerful just a basic understanding of a few tabs can be.
From here you can start expanding your knowledge and getting to dig deeper into the gold mine that is Google Analytics in particular and big data in general. The more you understand, the more focused and precise you’ll be in getting your website to do what you want it to do. What’s not to like about that?