Having someone set up a custom report can help narrow the information that is presented and helps you focus on what is important. Here at Rowland, we much prefer Google Data Studio for creating dashboards because it can pull in data from multiple sources and is much more visually appealing.
Having someone set these custom reports or dashboards can be invaluable by showing you what is important without the extra noise. The next part though is acting on it.
Here are five actionable tips to take away from your data for a better website and marketing function.
Analyze Acquisition Source
Analyzing the acquisition source for a website should be one of the first steps a Webmaster takes when looking at data. Looking at a static model graph might be interesting, but the real insights come when you are looking at trends.
When you set it to look at time-over-time and get percent changes, you can see trends. These trends are going to lead you to your next steps:
- Organic Acquisition: Maybe you see dramatic changes that lead you to look at your search console to see if pages have changed position.
- Paid Acquisition: Hopefully your paid sources are killing it! If you see big changes you can dive into to your Pay-Per-Click platform to see if you are paying a higher bid and getting fewer clicks or vice versa.
- Social Acquisition: Maybe you need to post more with more clear calls to action.
These are just a few examples of insights that can be gathered from looking at acquisition source reports.
Average Time on Page
When you first log in to Google Analytics you will see a metric for “Average Time on Site,” which can be fun to see. If you have had a custom report built for you, hopefully, this is drilled down further to average time on the page.
Insights can be gathered from not only the top-performing page but arguably more important is to see your worst performing pages.
Are there any surprises there?
There might be.
Oftentimes finding surprises in worst-performing pages leads to reassessing content, which can be very good! Keeping fresh content is one of the best things you can do.
If there are pages that you find surprising whether it be for over or underperforming content, you can use free tools to help gain further insights. Hotjar is a free tool (of course, there is a paid version with even more goodies) that provides a heat map of visitor interactions with your site. Once you find a page that gains your interest, maybe you should set up a Hotjar account to try and get some user experience answers.
Are visitors leaving the page before ever even seeing the call-to-action? Hotjar can help you get to the bottom of that.
Conversion + Previous Page Path
What are your conversions? Is a conversion an infobox submission, newsletter signup or e-commerce purchase? No matter the conversion looking at the previous page path can lead to invaluable insights.
We see many sites that have their conversions located on one page (yes, we are looking at you /contact) and that is ok! But, if your big conversion is an infobox submission and every goal is completed on /contact, that doesn’t lead to many insights.
Enter the previous page path.
Now we can see what page led us to /contact. Did they come from a specific service page or a product comparison page? Now we can see what behavior on the site led to that conversion.
While the conversion + previous page path gave us a great idea of what happened once they were on the site before a conversion, figuring out the customer lifecycle leading up to that site visit is vital to know as well.
Oftentimes people go straight to the attribution model comparison tool (which is a great tool!) But, we feel that the assisted conversions tool doesn’t get the love it deserves.
This tool gives equal weight to each touchpoint in a customer lifecycle before a conversion. Now you can see how much Paid Search, Organic, Direct, etc… play into the cycle. We work with a lot of long buying cycles and that can diminish the importance of a touchpoint. In the assisted conversion report we see everything with equal weight.
We are advocates of looking at the assisted conversions in conjunction with attribution models. In looking at all of these things, you can start to see how a conversion is achieved and which touchpoints are underperforming or are key players.
Now this one may seem out of place, I know. The beautiful thing about websites is that they are not static. If your website is what drives marketing or is an asset to your marketing (hint: it always is) then you are never done with it.
After looking at reports and making changes for a few months, new questions should arise. Maybe you can answer these questions through available features in programs like Google Analytics or Search Console, or maybe you need additional analytic set up through interfaces such as Google Tag Manager.
But curiosity is just as actionable as any report. Because every change you make has implications elsewhere on a site. If you never expand your analytic horizons you will miss great opportunities.
This just barely skims the surface of actionable insights that can be taken from analytic reports.
Hopefully, this has given you at least a starting point for optimization. My suggestion is to start with building a dashboard or having a professional build one for you. From there you can start drilling down and finding those hidden opportunities.
If you are having a dashboard built for you just remember: Analytics is a conversation and not a lecture. You should be able to express what you would like to find out about but also take suggestions on what the professional thinks you should be tracking. Somewhere in the middle lies a goldmine of opportunity.