Google Analytics, Conversions, and Marketing Measurement
Google Analytics is an amazing tool that can track all types of data related to website usage; from visitor metrics to content metrics and conversion metrics. By analyzing the data properly and gathering insights, you can make strategic decisions on your marketing strategy, content strategy, and conversion strategy. This post is not a primer on basic Google analytics, but a look at some key custom reports and metrics that can help you strategize, with a focus on b2b lead generation websites that focus on conversions.
Before we get started, I just wanted to set the record straight regarding definitions, since I am always asked.
This is a pure visit to your site, triggered by the Google Analytics tracking code. Everything visitors do on your site is tracked within that visit, until they leave or the session expires (after 30 minutes of inactivity).
New and Returning Visits
Analytics measures both visits and visitors in your account. Visits represent the number of individual sessions initiated by all the visitors to your site. If a user is inactive on your site for 30 minutes or more, any future activity is attributed to a new session. Users that leave your site and return within 30 minutes are counted as part of the original session. The number of visitors will always be lower than the number of visits to a site; this is because some visitors will visit more than once.
Goals and Conversions
The first thing we’ll review are goals. Goals and conversions mean two different things. A goal is simply a defined metric you’d like to track, whether it be a view of a page, content that is downloaded, or a multi-page interaction such as average time on site or pages per visit. A conversion is the completion of a defined goal or a transaction. For lead generation sites, a conversion is a completed activity that results in a user submitting an email address in exchange for content, trials, demos, quotes, or a request for more information from sales.
Google Analytics allows you to set up 20 goals; 4 groups of 5 goals each. Before getting started, you need to make a list of conversion activity (email submission) on your website, with an accompanying “thank you page” that verifies the form submissions. Each unique conversion should have a unique “thank you” page, so that you can track each specific conversion. These ‘thank you” page URLs are the page URLs you will be tracking on your website (as well as any pay-per-click or online advertising landing page or microsite). Speaking of landing pages; each landing page should be tracked as a separate profile within your analytics account, with its own conversion goals.
So Group One should list the “Thank You pages” for up to 5 of the most important conversion goals, such as:
- Contact Us forms, or general inquiries
- Registration forms (gated content downloads).
- Trial/demo requests
- Webinar/event signups
Again, all of these conversion goals are what brings leads into your funnel, where further marketing and lead nurturing can begin.
Group Two can be for event tracking on your website. An event is a click on your website that doesn’t necessarily lead to another page view. Event tracking allows you to measure content on your website; and decide which kinds of content are more engaging or more useful to your visitors. Types of events you can track are:
- Video plays. If you have a number of videos on your website, you can track which ones are viewed most, and which ones are played all the way through as compared to paused.
- PDF downloads. For any ungated content available as PDFs, you can measure downloads. This is a great way to determine what topics are most popular, and can give you insight to developing future content topics.
- Podcasts. Event tracking allows you to measure podcast listens and downloads
- Text and button Links. If your site includes links to other websites or domains, such as clicks to associations or questionnaires, you can track these outbound links.
Event tracking requires some additional code on each page where the event is. Google has provided a detailed look at how to incorporate event tracking into your website. There are also WordPress analytics plug-ins that can assist here as well. I also use an analytics add-on called SkyGlue that can also measure events as well as site visitors. Check out SkyGlue.
Group Three can be used for general site engagement metrics goals if you wish to track the overall site performance, such as pages per visit or average time per visit.
Now that you have proper goals set up, you’ll want to track those goals along with some key analytics data. Here are some reports that can provide you with some valuable marketing insights:
Traffic Sources Conversion
What Traffic sources and landing pages gave me the most conversions and best conversion rates?
This is a custom report that tracks overall site conversions as well as a specific conversion, called Check Out. For each report I am tracking the number of conversions as well as conversion rate. For dimension, the top level measure is source/medium. For example, “Google” is a source, “organic” and “cpc (cost per click or paid search)” are mediums. A medium is the type of traffic visitors come from; sources are specific websites (Google, Bing, specific websites, email, or general direct URL input via a browser). Once I click on the source/medium in the report, I can see which landing pages generated conversions. Below is an example of a landing page conversion report.
Outcome: Determine which pages perform well; lead to conversions; and which pages need optimization.
What Referring Sites (including social, email, and any website that has my link- a measure of SEO) give me the most conversions and best conversion rates?
This report tracks all those sources minus search engines and direct browser visits (audiences typing in URLs or clicking bookmarked sites). It’s useful to see where traffic and conversions come from. You can measure back links from SEO, guest blog links, social media sites, banner ads on enewsletters or websites, etc. With proper tagging, this data can be sliced and diced further. You may wish to track ad networks, specific websites, videos, pre-roll, etc. It’s all here, as long as links from these sites are tagged using Google’s URL tag builder and you properly tag external links. Programs like Doubleclick can help this task if you’re buying multiple ad networks or DSPs, but you need to manually tag links for more granular referral link analysis.
For the custom report setup as above, notice the filter, denoting that all I want to see in the source report are referral mediums.
So here’s a brief example of a referral conversion report, showing traffic from external website links or ads.
Outcome: Determine what sources drive visits and conversions; analyzing banner ads, email, social media sites, traffic from directories or guest blog activity, and more.
Keyword Conversions- SEO
What organic unbranded keywords give me the most conversions and best conversion rates?
My goal with this report is to show organic keywords, or search engine terms brought traffic to the site. Again I am showing total goal completions and conversion rates, but you can also select specific conversion types from the drop down menus. My filters selected here: I want to show only organic mediums; I want to not show “not provided” and I want to not show a word within my client’s company name, in this case “Perry”. Therefore my report will only show unbranded keywords.
So here’s the report- showing Google/organic as well as the keyword (which you can see either by clicking on Google/organic in the report, or selecting the keyword dimension as a secondary dimension). The term “used process equipment” has the highest conversion rate.
Outcome: Determine which keywords you should focus on for website and ongoing search engine optimization, by reviewing keyword conversion rates.
Is Pay-per-click advertising performing well; and which keywords are most effective?
This sample report measures visits, new visitor percentage, total conversions and conversion rate again, plus also bounce rate to see which terms aren’t relevant. You can select many metrics that are available, but for this report, I chose the above. The dimensions allow 5 drilldowns. So, first I click campaigns to see campaign performance, then ad groups, to match type, to keyword, and finally matches search query. A matched search query is the actual term audiences used to find my pay-per-click ad.
Here’s an example of the final dimension; the matched search query report, which allows me to see which specific terms within my ad groups actually generated conversions. If these terms were profitable, but also competitive, I may consider increasing bids for terms with high conversion rates.
Outcome: Which keywords and terms had best conversion rates. By the way, with this report, you can also add a cost-per-conversion metric, and judge which ad groups and keywords were most cost-efficient.
Are you interested in conversion rate by number of visitor sessions, or how many pages visitors view?
This first custom report, comparing visit counts with conversions, will tell you if multiple site visits affect conversion rates. If you have a loyal blog following, or promote lots of content via social channels, you may see some trends
This second custom report compares conversion rates with how many pages audiences visit on your site. The goal here is to gauge where more engaged audiences convert better.
Here are the results: Page depth ranked by goal completions. The below example shows higher conversion rates when audiences view 7 or more pages. That makes sense, doesn’t it?
Well, you can spend hours configuring, analyzing, and making recommendations that affect marketing, media, and keyword strategy. By creating custom reports with Google Analytics, and analyzing the right data, you can perform true marketing and website optimization. This is just a taste of the kinds of reports you can make, and save them throughout all of your website profiles.
Are you analyzing the right data? Maybe I can help you.