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Making Marketing Analytics as Simple as 1, 2, 3

Google Analytics reports
Even 10-foot-high data charts are useless if you don’t do something with the data. Image via Shutterstock.

Every smart marketer on the planet gets just how important data is in marketing.

But answer me these questions, and answer them honestly: Do you know how to analyze your marketing data? Do you know how to use your analyses to improve your results?

During his presentation at Call To Action Conference, co-founder of Orbit Media, Andy Crestodina, revealed that many data-driven marketers are not getting any value from their analytics. They tend to admire data charts rather than analyze the data and act on it. Unfortunately…

Pretty charts don’t actually do anything for you unless you take action.

Crap. Who else thought that looking at a few neat graphs in Google Analytics was enough?

Analyzing data can be as easy as 1, 2, 3

To increase traffic and conversions, marketers need to know how to interpret their own data and turn data insights into action. Andy debunked the myth that you’ve got to be Einstein to analyze your data. This is jolly good news for those of us who break out in cold sweats at the mere thought of number crunching.

He laid out a fool-proof three-step approach to help marketers analyze their own data and turn their analyses into action. It involves using the ever-trendy (but actually invaluable when you know how to use them) Google Analytics reports: Audience, Acquisition, Behavior and Conversion.

Let’s dig in.

1. Turn ideas into questions

What do you want to find out?

2. Find answers

Look for a report that can help you validate or reject the idea.

3. Take action

Take what you’ve learned and use it to optimize your marketing results.

By using these simple but effective steps, you can find the answers in Google Analytics to some of your most pressing marketing questions. You’re going to learn how to decrease bounce rate, rank higher in Google, boost reader engagement and increase conversions. Trust me, this is game-changing stuff.

Make sure you’re logged into Google Analytics and on the Reporting page. Let’s do this!

Audience reports

Google Analytics Audience reports don’t just tell you who your users are, they also show you how sticky your website is. If you want to find out how well your website is working across various devices and browsers, this report is your new best friend.

Example: How to decrease your bounce rate using Audience reports

Sometimes bouncier can mean better, but this is definitely not the case in marketing. If you have a high bounce rate (whether on your website or blog), then it’s likely that your content isn’t very relevant or user-friendly.

For smart marketers, the aim of the game should be to get bounce rates as low as humanly possible.

Using Google Analytics Audience reports, Andy shows us how to find out our website’s bounce rate across different browsers.

1. Ask a question

“Is your website working well in every browser?”

2. Find the answer

Click on Audience reports > Technology > Browser & OS. This will give you an overview of the bounce rates for users of every browser.

Audience report Google Analytics

All these numbers look pretty similar. So now what? Let’s go one step further by clicking on the Comparison view. This option pitches the site average for bounce rates for each browser against each other to give you a clearer picture of which browsers your website is working on.

Audience report Google Analytics

Bingo! It seems the poor souls visiting Andy’s website from an Android or Opera browser were having a particularly tough time. Which browsers have the highest bounce rate on your website?

3. Take action

Don’t stop now that you’ve identified any problem areas. It’s time to take cold, hard, remedial action. Why are the bounce rates for users or certain browsers higher than others? What can you do to find out? Simple. You can start by testing your website pages on these browsers to see why people aren’t sticking around on your site. You could check out page loading time, browser responsiveness and usability. And then, if necessary, optimize your pages for these browsers.

Acquisition reports

In other words, where are your website visitors coming from? Are they arriving at your website via Twitter or Facebook, or are they landing on your pages directly from Google? An Acquisition report gives you a detailed view of your traffic sources, so you can work out where you need to ramp up your marketing efforts.

Example: How to rank higher in Google using Acquisition reports

For Andy, people who arrive on your website through search engines are much more likely to convert than those who reach you via social networks. In fact:

Search traffic converts into leads 600% more than social traffic.

Holy cow. So when your goal is to drive conversions, focus on optimizing your website for search engines rather than driving traffic from social media. Andy suggests that you can creep up the search engine ladder by finding out how you currently fare in Google and turning your findings into action.

Sneaky.

1. Ask a question

“What phrases are we ranking for?”

2. Find the answer

If you haven’t already, activate Search Console in your Google Analytics settings. Then go to Acquisition > Search Console > Queries. You will not only get a list of all the phrases you rank for (under Query), but also how highly you rank for them in Google (under Average Position).

Acquisition report Google Analytics

Andy recommends that to be even more cunning, you should find the phrases you rank for on page 2 of Google.

It’s not that hard to move up a tiny bit in your rankings. If a tiny bit means going from page 2 to page 1, trust me you’re going to quadruple traffic next week for that page.

Do this by adding an advanced filter. Select Include > Average Position > Greater than and enter the value of 10.

Acquisition report Google Analytics

These are Andy’s results:

Acquisition report Google Analytics

What about yours?

3. Take action

Now it’s time for you to search for these phrases in Google, confirm the rankings and see which web pages you’re dealing with. It’s down to you to improve these pages to push them further up the Google ranks. Andy suggests creating longer pages or adding video as some ways of doing this. If you’re short on ideas, here’s a rather handy on-page SEO optimization checklist from Amanda Gent, another Orbit Media web marketing buff.

Behavior Reports

These reports give marketers golden insights into the behavior of their website visitors (no prizes for guessing that one right!).

They can show you precisely what your website visitors are searching for, what they’re engaging with and what they are actually doing on your web properties. For example, you can find out what your visitors typed into Google before clicking on your website, which posts they spend the most time reading and the path they follow, from landing page to exit page.

This is not just nice-to-have info; it’s absolutely vital to any marketer who wants to succeed in these consumer-centric times. Yes, I’m talking to you there!

It’s every content marketer’s dream to create content that people want to engage with. Andy kindly shows us all how to use the Behavior reports to find out which of our blog posts people love the most.

Example: How to boost reader engagement using Behavior reports

1. Ask a question

“Which of your blog posts are the most engaging?”

2. Find the answer

Go to Behavior > Site Content > All pages.

Search for “/blog” in the filter field to view posts on your blog page only. Then organize the results by the Comparison view.

Behavior report Google Analytics

Select “Avg. time on page” from the drop-down list in the third column. This shows you which blog posts your readers are engaging with most compared to the site average.

Behavior report Google Analytics

Look for similarities between the most engaging posts. Do they talk about the same subject? Are they the same type of post (e.g., a how-to or a guide)? In the example, the posts with the highest engagement all cover Google Analytics. Hey, what a marvellous topic for a blog article!

3. Take action

The actions are pretty obvious. Once you know which posts your readers dig, you need to deliver more of the good stuff. Invest some time in promoting these posts. Create and publish more content on the same or related subjects.

Conversion Reports

If a marketer’s ultimate goal isn’t to convert, then what is? Conversion reports give you valuable insights into which of your website pages or posts push people to convert. It may not be rocket science. But it certainly is pure 24 carat marketing gold.

Example: How to increase conversions using conversion reports

1. Ask a question

“Which blog posts inspire action?”

2. Find the answer

For this one, you need to have goals set up in your Google Analytics account. If you haven’t, there’s no time like the present.

Go to Conversions > Goals > Reverse Goal Path. This shows you which pages your converters were looking at before they completed an action, or goal.

Select the goal from the “All goals” drop-down list. In the example, Andy selects “Newsletter subscribers”.

Conversion report Google Analytics

This shows you which pages people were on before subscribing to the newsletter. Now click on “advanced” to add a filter:

Conversion report Google Analytics

And then filter as so:

Conversion report Google Analytics

Voilà! A list of the blog posts your visitors were reading before subscribing to your newsletter.

3. Take action

With this valuable info under your belt, you can now focus your efforts on driving traffic to the posts that convert the most visitors. Andy recommends promoting these posts using social media, email or even showcasing them on your website’s home page. You could also publish more content on your highest converting topics.

From passive marketing to active marketing

There we have it. A whole host of great examples — based on asking questions, finding answers and taking action — that we can all use to perform our very own analyses and improve the results of our marketing efforts.

Andy taught us that analyzing our own marketing data is fundamental to improving our marketing results and that anyone — dataphile or dataphobe — can do their own seriously valuable data analysis. All you need is a Google Analytics account and a no-nonsense approach.

As for the most valuable takeaway of them all? Inspiring marketers to not only act on their data, but also to adopt a culture of analysis, reflection and experimentation. Now you’ve got the tools you need to become an active data-driven marketer, the rest is down to you.

About Ellie Lord
Ellie is a Montreal-based content writer originally from the UK. She's previously worked as a translator and a digital marketer. She digs all word-related activities such as talking, writing, speaking various languages and occasionally rapping (that last one may or may not be a lie). Follow her on Twitter: @littlemisslord.
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Comments:

  1. Asad

    Wow, nice and informative article. You discuss many point about online marketing which are very much helpful for online marketers like me. Anyway thanks for this awesome writing.

    (4)
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  2. Alex

    As someone who’s always struggled a bit to get my head around Google Analytics, this article has been a big help to me, so thanks Ellie. The tip about activating search console so you can closely observe your Google rankings is something I’m off to do literally right now!

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