You are trying new techniques to stay engaged with your customers and to gain prospective new customers, but are you keeping an eye on the most important Google Analytics metrics to track engagement with your audience in order to monitor how well your activities are working?
When I undertake an audit of a business’s digital marketing channels, I ask for access to Google Analytics so I can see past performance and have a benchmark to review results of the actions I have recommended. Too often the person responsible for the site hasn’t looked at Google Analytics since the site was set up and I hear comments like, “I don’t bother because I don’t even know where to start!”
Google Analytics is one of the most powerful, free tools you can use to track the performance of your business, but it is too often overlooked. The amount of data, different metrics and various ways to look at the data can be overwhelming, especially when you first start using this tool.
To avoid this overwhelm and use the powerful data available in Google Analytics to improve performance across your digital channels:
- Determine the most important Google Analytics reports and metrics that are relevant to the goals of your site and your business. See my list below.
- At dedicated, regular timeframes monitor these metrics, note changes and identify likely reasons for changes.
- Schedule actions to be taken to improve performance.
Keep in mind — One of the things that often confuses users is the fairly frequent changes to what the Google Analytics team names the categories and how information is presented. If you are regularly monitoring key metrics, you can more easily follow when these changes are made.
Most Important Google Analytics Reports to Track Engagement
- Age & Gender – Are the majority of Users coming from the age groups and gender that you have identified as your target audience?
- Interests – Are the visitor’s interests inline with your industry and what you have defined for them in your market research?
- Channels – What channels are visitors coming from? Have your activities on other channels brought visitors to the site?
- What Keywords have brought visitors via Organic Search?
- Site Content – Which pages have the most views (Pageviews)? Are these the pages that lead visitors to the action you want them to take: enquire, buy, download, etc.?
- Landing Pages – Which pages do visitors most often enter the site on?
- Exit Pages – Which pages do visitors most often leave the site from? Is this a logical exit page, i.e. after making a purchase or enquiry, or is there something about that page that could be “fixed” to keep the visitor on the site?
Most Important Google Analytics Metrics to Track Engagement
- Users or Pageviews
- Bounce Rate – If this number is high or increasing:
- Is the content on the page relevant to the content that brought the visitor to the site and/or your target audience?
- Are there any design, layout or technical issues that might cause a visitor to leave?
- Are the number of pages viewed per session relevant to the number of pages likely needed to get the appropriate information and take the desired action, the “Path to Conversion”?
- % Exit – Similar to Bounce Rate and Exit Pages, if the number is high or increasing, review the page for the cause of this.
Once you have tracked these metrics for a few periods and have an understanding of how they relate to the performance of your website and other digital marketing activities, look at digging deeper:
- Use Secondary Dimensions to and get more specific metrics relevant to two dimensions. For example: View Organic Search performance by Keyword (first dimension) and Landing Page (second dimension) to determine how well pages are optimized for specific keywords.
- For the Behavior Reports the default view on Google is “Explorer”. To get a better insight into the “paths” that visitors are taking from page to page, at the top of the page switch to the “Navigation Summary”, which shows the pages visitors enter from the pages visitors exit to relevant to the selected page. Starting reviewing this view for the highest priority pages of the site, especially those where the visitor is supposed to take the desired action (make a purchase, sign up or enquiry forms, etc.) to see where visitors drop out of the Path to Conversion.
- Start using Conversion Reports:
- Set up Goals and Events to better track the performance of your site relevant to specific actions taken and see more clearly the return.
- If you have an online shop, set up Ecommerce Tracking to monitor performance of specific products.
Google Analytics provides in depth support articles to provide information on how to set up your site and advanced tracking, as well as what all of the metrics mean. Visit Google Analytics Support.
Regular tracking of the most important Google Analytics metrics will become easier over time and you will more clearly see how your digital marketing activities directly impact on the performance on your website — and how the performance of your website and the performance of your business relies on how well you can engage your audience — on and off the website.