Most businesses aren't taking full advantage of free, available website data. Here are a few items you are probably missing.
It's time once again to focus on metrics: Better analysis and measurement tools can help you get more out of your digital marketing. You may be using Google Analytics already—but I'm fairly sure you're not getting everything you could be out of it.
There are a few lesser-known but super-useful features of Google Analytics that I find most businesses aren't taking advantage of.
First off: Make sure you're using Google Analytics in the first place. It's free, for one thing. Too many businesses still fail to analyze their web analytics--but having a tool in place and developing data points for routine analysis should be mandatory for any business.
What Analytics Can Reveal
Most people think that you primarily use web analytics to count traffic to your website and the source of that traffic. While these metrics are important, there are other key pieces of information you can glean if you know what’s available and where to find it.
You should also know that in trying to be more privacy-compliant, Google has stopped providing keyword referral data (i.e., the list of search keywords by which people have found your website). This is a critical loss of data, but there is a partial work-around. I'll get back to that in a minute or two.
Don't-Miss Google Analytics Features
These seven pieces of data fall under three different sections: audience, advertising, content, and conversions.
1. Language. Drill into the Demographics link within the Audience section to discover new user markets that are interested in your product. For instance, if your business is not capturing the U.S. Hispanic audience and yet you see traffic from the “es” language code, you may want to amp up your Spanish-language marketing efforts (and consider Spanish translation for your site).
2. Location. You don't need to analyze the obvious geographic sources of traffic, but use this information, also in the Demographics area, to look instead for trending anomalies to identify untapped marketing opportunities.
For example, an apartment complex website in Northern Virginia saw a large increase in traffic from countries hosting U.S. military bases—an indication that service members were moving back to the States from overseas and looking for an apartment. By implementing military discount calls-to-action on its website, the complex improved its lease rates.
3. Mobile. With more and more mobile-enabled users, make sure you look at your site’s mobile traffic. You’re bound to see a noticeable rise, but the pace can help you cost-justify mobile enhancements to or versions of your website.
You may also want to examine which types of mobile devices drive traffic to your website, and which carriers send you the most traffic, to help you identify mobile marketing and advertising opportunities.
4. Visitor flow. Just because it produces such cool visuals of how traffic moves through your website, check out this feature and try slicing/dicing by Segments or expanding out the “Connections,” the controls for which can be found at the top of the visual.
5. AdWords Campaigns. Tying together your AdWords and Google Analytics accounts will allow you much richer analysis of the impact of your AdWords campaign—beyond just impressions, clicks and conversions. Make sure you’re using the same Google email address for both AdWords and Google Analytics. You connect the two through your AdWords account. Google provides step-by-step instructions here.
6. In-Page Analytics. I love this feature. It lets you view pages of your site while revealing an overlay of click-through stats of on-page elements—in other words, what parts of your web page people are actually acting upon. Once you’re logged into your Google Analytics account, you can also navigate to any actual page of your website and be served your In-Page Analytics.
This is how a page from my website looks, for instance. The orange tags show click-through rates.
7. Goals/Conversion Funnels. Located within the Conversions section, Goals and Conversion Funnels allow you track specific actions (goals) and the paths of those actions and the attribution along the way (funnels) so you can measure the ROI of your specific marketing and advertising initiatives.
Now, as to that workaround: To regain some of that critical keyword referral data, you'll need to use Google’s Webmaster Tools. As it sounds, this might be a bit technical—ask your webmaster to do this for you (here’s how), but once it’s done you’ll be able to actually see two sets of keyword referral data in Google Analytics. The first one is under Traffic Sources, Source, Search, Organic; the second one will also be under Traffic Sources but drill into Search Engine Optimization and look under Queries.
I recognize that that all of this data analysis might all sound like only something a bunch of data geeks would get into. But the reality is that as a business owner making everyday decisions that affect the course of your business, you need to understand this data, too.
Client advocate, digital strategist, and thought leader HOLLIS THOMASES, founder of Web Ad.vantage, helps companies navigate the complexity of the ever-changing digital marketing landscape and develop digital strategies. @hollisthomases