For decades, businesses poured thousands or even millions into marketing and advertising without expecting any concrete measure of results. Now, more and more businesses are putting their money into web marketing in addition to or instead of newspapers, magazines and TV.
Many don’t realize that they can expect a concrete measure of web leads, phone calls and sales from their web marketing campaigns. In fact, those that hire an online marketing firm should demand it.
Google Analytics is a tremendously valuable tool for tracking the performance of web marketing campaigns. The number of ways that one can slice web traffic data to answer specific marketing questions is truly amazing.
With just a few simple steps, these three important questions can be answered in Google Analytics:
1. Is my SEO program working?
2. Is the time that I put into my blog worth it?
3. Should I build a mobile website?
Those who shy away from the “techie” side of online marketing may be overwhelmed by the intricacies of Google Analytics, but with the steps outlined below, it’s not that difficult to filter out the very important data that shows what is working…and what isn’t.
Is my SEO program working?
SEO takes time but it’s important to define and benchmark metrics from the very beginning.
A very useful metric is the trendline for non-branded organic traffic. What’s that? In SEO techie speak, category terms are called non-branded keywords. The goal of a solid SEO campaign is to increase the number of people who visit your site using your category terms (e.g., running shoes rather than Nike).
Someone wants Nike shoes, they’ll search “Nike.” But, a person who hasn’t decided on a shoe brand yet will search on something like “best running shoes” and Nike wants to be in those search results. They need SEO to get search rankings on the non-branded term “best running shoes.”
You can setup a report in Google Analytics by using either an advanced filter or custom segment to filter out brand related terms. Search through the first few pages of keywords and figure out how people are referencing your brand. Exclude those.
I also recommend excluding “keyword not provided” because that’s likely to be brand traffic as well. Keep a close eye on that data and you’ll get a sense of how much your non-branded traffic is going up or going down. If you’re gaining ground with your targeted non-branded keywords, you know your campaign is effective. If not, you have work to do.
Is the time I put into my blog worth it?
Your keyword rich blog can be useful for driving traffic to your site and it’s a good place to use your long tail keywords. To find out if your onsite blog is drawing visitors, go to the Landing Pages report (Content → Site Content → Landing Pages).
The Landing Pages report tells you where traffic initially landed on your website. In this particular case, we are interested in knowing how many referrals you got from search engines because that will tell us how well that keyword rich blog content is catching long tail search queries. Additionally, you might want to just show your blog content based on the URL string. Follow these steps:
1. Apply the non-paid search traffic default segment.
2. Next, if you want to only see traffic that lands on your blog you can build a filter to exclude all landing pages except those that have a URL string similar to a blog post.
3. Now look at the metrics area below the graph. It will tell you the percentage of visitors from search engines who landed on a blog page.
If you’re getting a good number of visitors (that number is relative depending on the overall traffic to your site and the competition on the keywords), then keep it up. If you’re not satisfied with the numbers, don’t give up on your blog. Look for new keywords and keep trying.
Should I build a mobile site?
Before investing in a mobile site, take a look at this data in Google Analytics:
Under the Audience tab, click Mobile and then click Overview. You’ll get a quick glimpse at where your traffic is coming from today. Now the interesting part:
1. Under the explorer tab, select Goals Set 1 on the client account. (Note: If you don’t have goals set up in analytics, you can look at other factors, like time on site or bounce rate.)
2. Now you can see the difference in conversion rate for each goal that you have set up in analytics (or the difference in time on site or bounce rate.)
In some cases the mobile / non-mobile conversion rate or bounce rate isn’t that different. It is unlikely that you can do anything to get more people converting on e-commerce orders on a mobile device. But you should be surprised to see that the store locator performed worse on a mobile device than on a desktop. In that case, you may want to build a mobile site to give users a better experience.
About the author: Chad Hill is the CEO of HubShout, a US-based full service online marketing firm, SEO reseller and website reseller. Previously, Chad served as Business Development Director at America Online and worked in product management at FOLIOfn Investments, Intuit and the financial services group at American Management Systems. Chad holds a BA with honors from the University of Florida and an MBA with honors from Georgetown University.