For many who follow this blog you will be aware that we love working with data, especially Google Analytics data. Using Google Analytics to assess the performance of tactics, channels and content effectiveness over periods of time help marketers do better with their online marketing.
Some marketers will use Google Analytics quite a bit and some won’t so I’ve tried to include questions everybody can ask their agencies, designers or in-house web teams today.
1. “Have you set up Goals?”
The big one first! I have yet to audit a Google Analytics account with Goals set up. Goals are the actions you want visitors to take when visiting your website. Goals can be used to measure things like downloads of a brochure, requests for samples or booking for a CPD or a contact enquiry.
You can then look back and see which traffic sources (the things you spend money on!!) has generated the most goals and then look to either improve or eliminate those tactics or channels or just simply compare before and after. Have a read of this post which includes a presentation on ‘measuring what matters‘.
2. “Have you excluded our own internal traffic?”
I’ve had the pleasure of auditing a website a few years back including the Google Analytics account. The Analytics showed that this particular website had doubled the amount of visits in the last 6 months!! Doubled!! Digging a bit deeper I found out that the 90% of this doubled traffic was ‘direct’ visits. I asked myself “What amazing bit of brand marketing has this company just done to increase direct visits?”.
So, digging a bit further I found out that all the direct traffic was coming from the same location of where the business was located. It turned out that the company made it an internal policy 6 months ago to replace the start up screen (Google) on ALL internal computers to their own corporate website. What this means is that every time someone from within the business (80 or so employees) opened up the internet browser their own website popped up first, classed as a visit. Hey presto! Their existing agency was reporting thousands of visits per month and the marketing department were celebrating!! They were celebrating the fact that 90% of their website visitors were employees.
The agency had no clue how to exclude internal traffic from their Google Analytics account.
3. “How much has our website traffic grown this year compared to last year?”
Simple question but this will tell you if your brand online is increasing or decreasing or remained stagnant. If your agency reports a decrease then you should really be asking yourselves “Why has traffic fallen?” and then set out to investigate. If your traffic has increased then ask the same question, investigate and then do more of it. Well done.
4. “By how much has our visibility on search engines increased?”
I love this question. When benchmarking client sites I always take the figure for how many keywords the site attracts now and then monitor this number month by month. If you are doing SEO then this number should be growing, sometimes rapidly.
If it’s decreasing then you need to either do SEO or ask your agency “Why?” and then plan. Try and get your agency to also map this against search traffic over a long period of time so that you get the bigger picture, not just a 2 week window.
5. “Which pages on our site need improving?”
If you have just launched a new website then this question needs to be asked around 8-12 weeks after launch a long with some of the above. Your agency should be looking to find product pages which bring in high traffic but then fail to either convert or engage the visitor in to doing more, like completing a goal such as a download or enquiry. ‘Not so sticky’ content is what we’re looking for here and then from there you can set out to improve page performance. You could try and redesign pages or even conduct an A/B test to see which page is better at achieving its set goal or goals.
Don’t dwell over blog posts as most people will come to read one post and then leave. Maybe your blog should look at increasing loyalty and returning visitors? Here are some tips for measuring the success of a blog.
So, there you have 5 questions which your agency should be able to answer and give you some excellent insights into how your website and online marketing strategy is working and where improvements are required. More questions next week.