First and foremost – hello! My name is Clay Coomer and I’m the newest member of the StrataBlue digital marketing team. I serve as the Digital Marketing and Client Services Manager for StrataBlue. Basically what that means is not only do I help plan and execute client marketing plans, but I also play a big role in creating/executing marketing plans for StrataBlue to increase our brand exposure, as well! But enough about me; on to the topic at hand, and if I do say so myself – it’s rather important to your business. I was inspired to write this post after looking into one of our client’s Google Analytics data. As I navigated through various reports analyzing traffic patterns and such, I stumbled upon some information that was very telling to me. Here’s the story…
This is somewhat of a sequel to my earlier post on Google URL Builder. I’m going to assume from this point forward that you have Google Analytics up and running on your site, you’re using URL Builder to track people coming in from social media, PPC and e-mail campaigns, and now you want to use Analytics to, well, analyze the data coming in. That’s what this article is all about.
Analytics is daunting when you first start it up — there’s a ton of data. We’re going to stay focused in this post, though, and go over a few key sections as they relate to campaigns, referrals and blog traffic.
Finding Your Campaigns
Click Acquisition, then Campaigns.
Look for your specific campaign name. Remember, you named this after the specific piece of content you ran with that call to action built in. In this case, let’s click on “tip”, the first in a series of product tips built into an application.
We can see here the source is Product for all, as we ran this same campaign across many different mediums, but the same source — all products. If we ran these same tips on Facebook, we’d see Facebook in the first column.
In the second column is the medium, in this case named after each product. Crunching the numbers here, we can see that the DR product did much better than the others in this campaign. Comparing multiple source / mediums in a single campaign is great for seeing how different types of sources perform in comparison with one another.
What do these numbers mean?
Sessions are a somewhat new term in analytics that describes a period of time that a user is engaged with your website. Sessions contain pageviews, but also events and e-commerce. In this case, there were 4,098 sessions during the four-month period we’re looking at.
This is the percentage of new users that make up your sessions. A high New Sessions percentage means you’re getting a ton of turnover, with a lot of new people looking at your content, but not a lot of repeat business. A low New Sessions percentage means you’ve got a hardcore base of steady customers, but not a lot of new people coming in. Balance is good here, depending on the source.
This is the number of new people that showed up during this period — people who have never been to your site as long as Analytics has been tracking it. Businesses like new customers, so a high number here is good.
This is a tricky, and frequently misunderstood term. Bounce rate refers to people coming in to your site, spending some time there, and leaving for an external site from there without checking out any other page. Lower is better here, as you want the customer to stay engaged whenever possible. There are many tricks for keeping your customers on your site and clicking around, from using Related Posts plugins on your WordPress blogs, to including calls to action or “carrots” that keep the user engaged and informed.
Keep in mind that if you’re driving traffic to a landing page and you don’t really want them to go anywhere else besides signing up right there, this percentage is going to be high. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, depending on your goals.
Pages / Session
If your bounce rate is nice and low, then your pages / session is going to be higher. This means that people are clicking around and checking out more of the site when they come and visit.
Average Session Duration
Good, quality content will keep the user and potential customer on your site and reading for a long time. If you’re old like me, you remember the “Where’s the Beef?!” Wendy’s commercials. Having a lot of “beef” means that users will spend a lot of time there, and hopefully get into what you want them to get into — a conversion.
The other columns only work if you have e-commerce connected to your Analytics account, and that’s beyond the scope of this article. Let’s check out another part of Analytics instead.
Click Referrals, then look for social media. These are the times that people click over to your site when you’re not necessarily using URL Builder (though you should be using it most of the time). Maybe they found the URL in your About section. Maybe they found it from someone else’s Facebook page.
Find the first Facebook link you see, but don’t click on it. Facebook divides traffic into desktop and mobile, and sometimes divides it even further in esoteric ways. This is a good way to see how your total efforts on Facebook are having an effect on site traffic.
In the upper right, click the arrow and select Compare To. Select Previous Period to choose the immediately preceding period of the same length, or select Previous Year to do a year-over-year comparison. Select Custom to choose what periods you’re comparing. Then, scroll back down to your social media referral source. In this case, Facebook desktop traffic grew 57% from one four-month period to the next four-month period. That’s outstanding.
There’s one last part of analytics we’re going to check — how to track your internal content and how it’s doing.
- Click Behavior
- Click Site Content
- Click All Pages
In the search box, type blog. This assumes that your blog is at sitename/blog/ — if it’s under /news/, then search accordingly. (If you don’t use a subfolder, skip this step.)
Run the same comparison as before.
You can see how your blog is improving over the same time period, and you can also look at individual posts and see how they’re doing over time. Evergreen posts, especially, can sometimes grow over time and become viral long after the date they were first published. This is a good way to identify those posts that are doing well and optimize them for keywords and SEO so that they do even better.
There’s a Lot More
Google Analytics is a bottomless pit of data about your site, its behavior and the behavior of the people that visit it. Explore and find more useful data here, and share that data with clients. Clients like to see numbers going up, and if you’re doing your job, they will — and everyone’s happy!
Content is King
Bottom line — you’re referring people from an e-newsletter or social media or an app to your website. You want users to have a reason to enjoy your site when they get there, stay there, read things, and buy stuff. You get that by having a well-designed site, sure, but also by having quality content. Content that’s relevant, timely, engaging, well written, well-designed (with good images!) and above all, original. Do that, and you’re giving users a great reason to leave their social media caves and check out what you’ve got to offer.
So you’ve got Google Analytics set up on your website, and you know where people are going once they get there. But how do you determine where they’re coming from, out of all the potential sources?
Enter Google URL Builder. By using this simple, free tool from Google, you generate a string of tags which can be sent back to Google Analytics for tracking. The tags get added to the root URL so that you can later determine from where clicks originated — be it from social media, your blog, e-mail campaigns and even online advertising. Consistent use of this analytics code will enable you to track custom campaigns and determine a customer or potential customer’s entry point to your site, whether he or she converts into a paying customer, how long the customer spends on your site, where they exit from and so on.
The web address where you can access this free link-building tool is difficult to remember, so the best thing to do is Google “Google URL Builder” and click on the first search result that comes up.
There are many UTM parameter fields to fill out to generate the correct tags that get added to your URL, so let’s get started:
Step 1: Enter the URL of your website.
This step is going to change each time depending on what part of your website you are linking to, whether it be a specific product, blog post or offer.
Step 2: Fill in the fields below.
This is where the link comes from. If it’s an e-mail newsletter, put in “newsletter.” If it’s a Facebook ad campaign, put in “Facebook.” Be sure to stay consistent with word choice and case sensitivity so that future campaigns don’t get lost if you want them categorized the same.
How is the link carried from the source to the destination? If the source is newsletter, the medium is “email.” If the source is Facebook, the medium could be “social media.” Medium is broader than source.
This one’s optional and only used in PPC ads. Enter in the keywords that you’re paying for as part of a Google AdWords ad campaign(s).
This one’s also optional, but can be used in any form of online advertising. If you’re running AB testing in your ads, put something in here to distinguish ads from each other that have the same destination URL.
What’s the purpose in directing people from the source to the destination? Is it to promote a specific product, service, webinar, etc? Put the name of your custom campaign here. You may often have multiple different URLs built with the same campaign name, depending on where you’re promoting it.
Click Submit when you’re done, and your URL will now have a ? with a string of numbers and letters after it. Copy and paste this URL and use it in your campaign in place of the root URL on its own. As you get more familiar with URL Builder, you may even be able to generate code on your own, without having to use the building tool.
Tracking the campaign in Google Analytics
After you’ve generated a URL and pasted it where it needs to go, take some time for the visits to populate, then head to Google Analytics and log in.
Once you’re in your account, click Acquisition, then Campaigns. You’ll see your Campaign Name listed and can see analytics for the entire campaign. Click on the campaign name, and you can see analytics further broken down by Source and Medium, separated by a slash.
If you have more than one source or medium listed, you can click on each one and see analytics from specific sources and mediums. That way, you can compare how Facebook, Twitter and e-mail are doing in delivering people to the same location as part of the same campaign.
Using Google URL Builder and tracking code is an exceptionally useful way to keep an eye on how effective your organic and paid campaigns are doing, and whether you need to make any adjustments as you go. It’s also a great way to organize campaigns in Google Analytics so the data can be analyzed more effectively.