Who among us does not build a brand based on data about their (potential) recipients? The days when a company only gave "a good service" or only produced "a good product" are gone. In the maze of competition, you need to stand out in a way that will encourage recipients to this good service and this good product. And how to do it? The best way is to ask customers what they like. Since preferences are represented by behaviours, they need to be observed and conclusions drawn from them.
Data-driven reasoning is where Google Analytics helps. It is a comprehensive analytical tool that can be accessed by any user of a Google Account. Just log in to your account and enter https://analytics.google.com to start working with Analytics.
What exactly can the use of Google Analytics give?
First of all, the data about the visitors you are interested in:
how many users visited the website in a certain period,
what demographic groups they belong to,
are they coming back,
do they just look to one side or go deeper,
which pages they visited most often,
and from what sources and using which devices they visit the website.
On the basis of the observed behaviours, you can create so-called personas, i.e. imagine the recipient of the blog or store customer as a specific person, for example a woman between 25 and 34 years of age, living in Manchester, interested in Norwegian culture and language. Or maybe it's a man aged 65+ who uses a browser on a mobile device to check the offers of tourist equipment?
Let's take a look at what information you can find in Analytics and how to use it for the benefit of your website, store or blog.
Here is a small but important note: from October 14, 2020, two versions of Google Analytics are available: Universal Analytics for websites only and Google Analytics 4 - for websites and mobile apps. In this article, I am referring to the Universal Analytics version.
Regardless of the version of the analytical program you use, remember that the more data, the more reliable conclusions you can draw from it. The longer the data collection is, the better. And when the data begins to collect, where to look? Here are some basic Universal Analytics reports that you should watch carefully.
Demographic and Interest Reports
These reports collect information about the age, gender and interests of site visitors. Due to the fact that age and gender are sensitive data, demographic reports need to be activated in Analytics manually and the first data appears after obtaining information from 100 sessions registered on the site. Your audience may be 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, 65+, and be male or female.
Interests are reported based on the web pages viewed by users, to which Google assigns categories such as "music lovers", "ecology enthusiasts", "cooking enthusiasts", "elementary and high school", "sports shoes" and many more.
How to use this data?
Based on the data, you can build a persona, i.e. the model of the recipient who visits your pages the most. Knowing the age, gender and interests of such a visitors, you can address them directly. Use the style and language they like, and their preferred media channels.
It is true, stereotypes about women aged 25-34 or men 65+ may be misleading. Therefore, do not stop at the first data, but check subsequent reports to compile everything into a coherent image of a visitor.
The bounce rate is not a separate report, but information about how many of your site's sessions ended up showing just one page. Sure, if you have a one-page site, this rate will always be 100%, but if there are more pages to display and there is valuable information on further pages, and not only on the landing page, you would definitely like to lower your bounce rate.
Where can you find this information?
In the Behaviour section of Menu: Overview and Site Content reports.
How to use this data?
If you have a very high bounce rate, say over 50%, then check the pages with the highest rate. Maybe they have all the information your audience needs and there is no need to go any further? Or maybe a technical defect blocks the page loading or it is unreadable? It is very easy to discourage users from further browsing a site. However, if everything is technically efficient, it is worth taking a look at the website itself and helping the user find the way to further pages by placing a clear menu or buttons directing him to other sections. Designing paths for your website audience is an important part of their user experience and your success.
On the other hand, if the bounce rate is around 0%, don't be overjoyed either. This could mean, for example, that you have Analytics installed twice and that you are sending double impressions from each side. It's a good idea to sort it out quickly to avoid incorrect data on the sources of your website entries.
Your best sites
The Site Content reports also provide a lot of information about individual pages, including pageviews, time spent on the page, and the number of times when it was an entry or exit page in a session. Simply put, this can be called a list of the most popular pages on your site.
How to use this data?
Use the solutions from on the most viewed pages: develop topics that arouse interest, use the same page layout or content presentation. The interests and user behaviours change dynamically, just like our whole world. But if you watch them constantly, you can react quickly to your audience’s needs.
Mobile devices and desktop computers
According to Google data, already in 2017 over 60% of internet traffic was made on mobile devices, i.e. mobile phones and tablets. The rising trend continues and it is already normal to build a site primarily for devices with small screens. But how do you know if your audience is more mobile or stationary? You will use the Mobile traffic report for this (in the Audience section). In this report, it is worth paying attention to the longest sessions and the lowest bounce rate in particular device category.
How to use this data?
Session length and bounce rate let you see if your pages are loading properly. If the user has to wait more than a few seconds to see the content, he will most likely drop off the page. If you suspect that a specific page is loading slowly, you might find the Site Speed report in the Behaviour section of your website handy, and then use web optimisation tools.
Where are your users coming from?
This, in turn, is the question you've probably been asking yourself from the beginning: where are my audience coming from? Or maybe in a different version: do users come from where I expect them?
There are four types of medium:
"Unpaid search ", the so-called organic, i.e. unpaid results from search engines such as google, bing or baidu,
"Cpc", i.e. traffic from paid ads, for example from Google Ads campaigns,
A "referral" that includes all the referring sites, from social media to friendly blogs that link to your website in the article.
"None" meaning direct entry - the recipient already knows your website address or has it saved in the browser memory.
You can also have your own medium, such as a "newsletter", if you create UTM elements in your campaign by yourself.
All these medium are supplemented with the source, i.e. the name of the domain from which the traffic specifically comes from. Check the All Traffic reports in the Acquisition section for instagram / referral, bing / organic, or google / cpc. Let’s say you have an agreement with an influencer that he will mention your products or services on his blog, here you can see if this really works for you.
How to use this data?
It is worth investing time, effort, and maybe money in the sources that bring the most audience to your website. See what you can do to further encourage entry from these seats. You can also check why a blog that was supposed to be a lot of references is not working - maybe there is a misspelling in the link leading to your site? Or maybe the content with the link is no longer available to everyone?
Relationship between Google tools
In this article I have briefly described the basic Universal Analytics reports, and as you can see, you can create a specific image of users and their behaviour based on this data. In addition - and this is no less important than the previous information - Analytics has built-in integrations with other Google tools. It is most often combined with Ads - for more effective monitoring of ad traffic - and Search Console, which helps you work on positioning your website in organic search (SEO). The connection to Data Studio is also often used, which is used to create bespoke reports based on selected data. But that's a completely different story.
Can you already imagine how Google Analytics helps you to improve your work with the website? Data collected in an anonymous and safe way gives great possibilities of interpretation. The more data is collected, the greater the credibility of the conclusions based on it. These, in turn, allow you to adjust the pages better to the needs of the visitors. It is a great tool to help you continuously develop the website, it allows you to do comprehensive analysis of data from different periods, such as year to year or month to month. There is only one thing in which Analytics will not replace you - in the individual interpretation of data, as only you know the specifics of your website and your goals. Fortunately, this part of the fun stays on your side.
If you have questions or topics that are not covered here, and you are particularly interested in, send me a message, I will be happy to help.