In the age of data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning, collecting and making sense of business data has become more important than ever. But beyond expensive, technical, and often over-hyped technologies and frameworks, what are the more practical steps organisations can take to start taking advantage of its data? For the vast majority of businesses, the answer is website data and more specifically, Google Analytics.
While Google Analytics is one of the most popular and accessible tools for understanding website data, it can quickly become complex when utilised by staff working in non-technical roles. Without a solid understanding of the fundamentals, it can become difficult to unlock the potential of your website data by turning it into useful information and insights.
To simplify the website reporting process, we have explained three key metrics of differing complexity below, as well as some useful reports within Google Analytics.
The metrics covered are high-level and relevant to anyone working for an organisation, big or small. They act as a good starting point to drill down from for further insight and form the foundation of many useful reporting functions included in Google Analytics.
Sessions – Beginner
A session is when a visitor comes to your website. In a session, all a user’s interactions with your site are recorded by Google. If a user leaves your site or is inactive for 30 minutes, the session is ended. Sessions by themselves are ok but combining them with other metrics can make them really useful.
Looking at sessions relative to time periods like days of the week or months of the year can help you identify spikes in demand for your product/service, and help you plan accordingly. Analysing your session figures during marketing campaigns can help you quantify the impact your campaign has had.
Bounce Rate – Intermediate
When someone visits your site and leaves without interacting with anything, that’s a bounce. Your websites bounce rate is simply the percentage of users that do just that. A low bounce rate is a good signifier that your website is engaging to users. A high bounce rate might mean the opposite.
It’s worth remembering though that a high bounce rate might mean the page in question simply doesn’t have any options for interaction. For example, a contact page will likely have a higher bounce rate as its common for users to simply get a phone number or email before exiting, and that’s perfectly acceptable.
In general, it is good to aim for as low a bounce rate as possible. This can be achieved by making sure your site is easy to navigate and by making an effort to write relevant and engaging content. Not only will this boost your search engine rankings, driving more users to your site, but it will also help keep them there after they arrive!
Conversion Rate – Advanced
Your conversion rate is likely to most important metric if you want to find out whether your site is actually driving business. A conversion occurs when a visitor completes a desired action. Those unfamiliar with analytics often assume conversions are the same as purchases, this isn’t the case. A conversion might be a user submitting a form, or even just clicking a button. Whatever is an important action you want a user to carry out can be considered a conversion.
Conversion take a bit of setting up and can be a little tricky, but the ability to pinpoint what actions you want users to carry out, and then quantify whether your site is having its intended effect it priceless, especially when you have likely spent money on building the website in the first place. If you find out your site isn’t converting as many people as it should, you know something needs to change and you can set about finding out what.
Getting the Most Out of Metrics
Extracting real value out of your website data comes when you start combining your metrics and interpreting them in the context of your organisation and its objectives. What is the goal when a visitor lands on your website? Is it selling a product online? Arranging a meeting with you? Or just finding out information about your business? Your objectives are specific to your business, which means your analytics should be too.
It is also important to that metrics may be of varying value to different people/teams. For example, a high bounce rate on a website homepage might be important for designers who handle the visual and layout elements, whereas a short average session duration on the business blog might be more concerning to content writers who may need to consider whether their written content is capturing the attention of users.
Google Analytics has some fantastic tools you can use to analyse your metrics by creating your own custom reports, as well as a bunch of useful ‘off-the-shelf’ reports. Here’s a few we’d recommend beyond those mentioned above. Check them out for yourself and think about how they might apply to your organisation:
- Average Session Duration – The average time that users spend on your site’s pages.
- Pages per Session – The number of pages users look at during a session.
- Channels – How users are finding your site and where are they being referred from. Social Media, Organic Traffic, Paid Search etc.
- Landing Pages – Which pages users are arriving to your website on.
- Mobile Overview – What proportion of users are accessing your site via mobile devices, and what devices they are using.
Modern organisations generate a significant amount of digital data online. You may be struggling to transform data into insights, or even to capture the right data in the first place.
As is core to PDMS’ values, we aim to filter out the ‘hype’ of temporarily trending technologies in favour of providing a valuable service to our clients. That’s why we have developed our new Websights service to assist businesses in gathering and using their digital data effectively to drive actionable, customer-centric insights.
By combining strategy, implementation, optimisation and training, PDMS Websights can help you leverage the power of your data to increase revenue, profitability, productivity and efficiency. Through our ongoing monitoring and reporting process, we provide realistic strategic direction and practical recommendations to help companies achieve their goals and objectives through data-driven decision making.
To learn more about Websights here