Is Google Analytics right for your business?
First up, what is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is Google’s web metrics tool, which can be used to show you how people found your site, how they explored it and how you can enhance their visitor experience. With this information, you can improve your website return on investment, understand the profitability of each customer and increase conversions.
As with many of Google’s tools, Analytics performs better the more Google tools you are employing. So if you use Gmail as your business email provider and use AdWords to run your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) search, then Google Analytics can give you detailed, joined-up metrics to rival many of the more expensive solutions out there. And many are more expensive because Google Analytics is free (up until 5 million page views per month and unlimited if you have an active AdWords account).
So it’s a pretty obvious choice if you are a small-medium business owner running paid search through Google, however there are alternatives, more on them later.
The importance of web metrics
But why bother tracking the activity on your website at all? Well if this will be just another report that you file away (Web Report>2011>July) then probably you shouldn’t bother, but if you can put your data hat on for a second and take a look at a Google Analytics dashboard (or any other web metrics reporting for that matter) it’s actually very interesting and can provide you with a roadmap if you are a little stuck, or dare we say it, a little lost or de-motivated when it comes to optimising your website on a regular basis.
First up. Understanding user behaviour. One thing that Analytics can show you is how people behave on your website – what the average time is that they spend on each page (known as dwell time); how many unique visitors you receive; the average number of pages each person visits and your best performing traffic sources, to name but a few.
Once you understand the basics about how people find your site and what they tend to do there you can drill down into the details – is this affected by where they live? What keywords lead them to your site or which page they landed on? You can segment your reports using many criteria, such as language, region, browser or visitor type.
This allows you to do one very valuable thing - see where drop off occurs. It’s great to know what areas of your site perform the best but it’s most constructive to know which areas of your site need your full attention in order to improve. If these areas are causing you to lose potential customers that you may have already paid to show your site to, through Display campaigns, offline activity or paid search campaigns, then fixing whatever it is that causes them to leave again will be the quickest and most effective way to impact your ROI.
At this point trusty Google has another very helpful tool – the Conversion University. This is a basic tool but based around a great idea – it happens to many people, you’ve seen where it’s all going wrong on your site – but what should you do? How do you fix it, plug the hole, bridge the gap? How to rectify the weaknesses or optimise for the strengths in your site, that an analytics tool can illuminate, is one of the hardest things to grasp for many website owners and therefore metrics as a chance to better the web experience you offer customers is often the most under-used weapon in a company’s artillery. The Conversion University suggests common reasons for any of the dips and troughs you may be seeing in your reporting. But if you are looking for a more experienced, guiding hand or a real person to talk you through it, we can help.
Gritt can interrogate your reporting, we can help you understand where to make changes and crucially, as we create and build websites too, we also have a team in-house who can make any changes to your site in order to ensure that it is as user-friendly as possible and that your analytics are always working to optimise your results. Just contact us to find out more.
If not Google, then what?
Don’t think we forgot about Google’s smaller and slightly less-lovable cousins, the other players in the web metrics field. There are many, but two that stand out from the crowd are Yahoo and Omniture.
Yahoo web analytics offer a great package, especially if you do a lot of advertising using the Yahoo network. Yahoo Analytics are also free and offer additional opportunities to create multiple dashboards (up to 10), perhaps for different departments in your business that use your web metrics to meet different objectives; also demographic data and a custom reporting tool that allows you to drag and drop your data groups and your metrics and will create a custom graph for you instantly. Basically if you can think of a marketing question, Yahoo web analytics can provide you the insights to answer it.
The downsides, we hear you cry? It is not as usable or intuitive as Google and of course, if you use other Google tools there is no integration with those. http://web.analytics.yahoo.com/
Omniture is the web analytics tool now owned by Adobe. Adobe have taken the digital overview approach to analytics and offer you the chance to put all of your digital reporting in one place. You can integrate your social, mobile and video tracking into an Omniture web report through adding unique tracking codes to your web pages, Facebook pages and all internal and external links. One of the major benefits is Adobe’s other suite of tools, such as Adobe Survey, which allows you to measure audience sentiment – a good way to support your engagement metrics if, for example goodwill towards your brand or communication of brand messages are key KPI’s of your digital strategy.
Omniture however is not free, which is a major strike against it if you are looking to start using web analytics tools for the first time and don’t want to come up against a barrier right at the get-go. http://www.omniture.com/en/products/online_analytics.
For more information on web metrics you can visit the Web Analytics Association at http://www.webanalyticsassociation.org/ and remember, whatever your choice of web analytics tool we can also offer you objective help, advice, implementation or management, just drop us a line.