Do you have the data you need to make smart marketing decisions?

As part of our SEO Tune-Up service, we review our clients’ Google Analytics accounts (and when clients doesn’t have Google Analytics installed, then we set it up for them). And I’m happy to announce that almost every client does have Google Analytics installed on their website already.

So that’s the good news.  Most businesses do have analytics installed.

The bad news is that many business owners have never logged in to review their Google Analytics data!  I know when they have never once logged in because they either don’t have the login information or they send me the wrong info.  :(

And here’s the tricky thing about website analytics: setting it up only helps if you or someone on your team actually looks at the data! And then, of course, you must take action based on the data.

In this article, I’ll explain why analytics is important and what you should keep an eye on when you log into your account.


Why is Website Analytics Important?

I think we all know analytics is important.  That’s probably why it gets installed in the first place.  Website analytics tracks visitor behavior on your website so you can see how many prospects visited your website and then which pages they visited.  Think of analytics like your report card.  When you log in and view the historical data, you’ll see whether your online marketing is passing or failing.

For example, if you look at organic traffic over the past year and it looks more like a ski slope falling gradually from left to right, then you know your SEO is not working.   That means you’re actually losing traffic month after month despite your investments.  On the flip side, if the graph is trending steeply upward from left to right, then things are lookin’ good.  But that’s just traffic.

I’m sure you are well aware that traffic does not equal sales.  That’s why Google Analytics also has a nifty section called “Conversions” or “Goals” where you can define key actions on your website.  For example, you can set up a Conversion to measure how many prospects complete a contact form.  Or if you have an e-commerce website, then you can measure every sale and even see revenue data within Google Analytics.

There’s a ton of data and it can be sliced and diced in many different ways to help you make better decisions about your marketing.  That’s the whole point here.  Rather than invest in SEO, social media, email marketing, advertising, and pray that it’s all “working,” you can actually measure the results of each marketing channel.


What Data Should You Monitor?

The answer to this question really depends on your business. However, every business should monitor some basic metrics.

The first question you’ll want to answer is, Where is my traffic coming from?”  Is it from SEO, paid advertising, a referral partner, social media, or some other source?  To answer that question, use the Channels report in Google Analytics.  The Channels report is within the Acquisition section on the left navigation and that report will break down all of your traffic by channel.  For many businesses this will be an eye opener.  One of my clients was shocked when she saw how much more traffic was coming in organically compared to the advertising traffic.  Sometimes your gut is wrong about where your traffic is coming from.

The second question is,Which traffic source is driving leads and sales?  This is much harder to answer depending on your type of business.  If you have an eCommerce website, then make sure you or your webmaster get e-commerce analytics set up properly.  That will allow you to run reports to see exactly how much revenue you’re generating from each of your marketing channels.  Go back to the Channels report and you’ll see the Conversions per Channel on the far right.

However, many businesses convert sales offline, so it’s not possible to automatically report on revenue as with an e-commerce website.  The solution is to set up Conversions, or Goals, like I mentioned above.  A Conversion can be when a prospect completes a contact form, requests a coupon, or maybe when she requests a demo.  Again, the exact conversion will depend on your sales process.  The idea is to track a key step in your sales cycle so you can then see which Channel is driving more leads and sales.

As Peter Drucker, known for inventing modern business management, said: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

And with that in mind, I’ll leave you with a famous Joe Paterno quote, “Today, you’re either going to get better or you’re going to get worse, but you’re not going to stay the same.  So which is it going to be?”