Google Analytics provides so much information that beginners usually get overwhelmed. There’s only so much time in the day to analyze the data provided. Ecommerce sites have it easy- they can simply track sales to measure success of marketing and content, then make further decisions based on that info. Non-profits can use donations as a similar metric.
Why do non-commercial sites need Google Analytics? How can they identify real, usable metrics?
For pages that exist purely to serve their brand, this answer boils down to exactly that: determining how the metrics affect your brand. Track clicks, page interactions, and other similar metrics to see what ideas work and which don’t. This way, you’ll get instead the minds of your visitors and develop a better strategy for your brand’s site.
AnalyticsDevs suggests few key steps you can follow to make this work for you.
Build a Plan
Before anything else can happen, you need to identify your goal. What do you want users to do? Why are they on your site? Once you have a clear goal in mind, you’ll have a clearer idea of what metrics to watch.
Monitor Applicable Data
You’ll have to track the correct data to get the most out of Google Analytics. This may include some code rewrites, or could be as simple as adjusting configuration settings. You can also shortcut the process with Google Tag Manager, which will help you track visitor interaction with various elements on your site.
The most common useful metric is event tracking, which requires Google Analytics. This applies to tracking virtually everything on your site beyond page views. Start by configuring Goals in Google Analytics so it recognizes your actual objectives. Once that’s done, it will track the relevant event, be it watching a video, signing up for a subscription, or even just staying on the site for a while. With these tracking features, you’ll have a better sense of what works and what doesn’t for your site.
Google Tag Manager can also help track these goals, in part because it has extra tracking features that provide additional metrics for your needs when used correctly. However, that’s a subject for another post.
With all your Goals and necessary features for event tracking are set up, it’s time to track the performance of your site in relation to those goals. Regularly checking for changes in your site’s metrics is the best way to identify trends, or to track the performance of specific ad campaigns. You can manually check some of the more meaningful metrics like the pages viewed per session, or you can use reports that Google Analytics can generate for you.
There’s a few different reports that work well for non-ecommerce sites.
Audience Overview- This report is perfect for tracking changes from month to month. If you see sudden shifts in your audience, then it may be time to adjust your strategy to match your new audience (or bring back your old one).
Metrics by Source- Sometimes, you’ll see a lot of traffic from a single source. If you can identify why you’re successfully bringing traffic from that source, you might be able to duplicate that success elsewhere and bring more attention to your site from all directions.
Metrics by Ad Campaign- Generating organic traffic is preferred for obvious reasons, but PPC views matter too. High clickthrough rates on your ads seem great, but they’re not doing a lot of good if those visitors don’t interact with your intended goal. Checking this report will give you a more accurate measure of each campaign’s success, allowing you to focus on campaigns that work for you.
As said at the beginning of this section, it’s important to re-check the data regularly to spot any changes that may have come up. Old data is less useful than no data at all.
How Effective is Your Content?
If a post is perfectly written, but nobody reads it, is it really a post? If it gets a lot of views, but doesn’t direct traffic where you need it, does it really matter for your site?
All of your content needs to further your goals. There’s a few content-specific metrics Google Analytics provides that are far more useful than simple page views. The best report might be the All Pages report. It includes several key metrics (listed below) that can provide detailed information about each page’s performance.
Bounce Rate- This will show how often users viewed specific pages before leaving your site. If a post was intended to draw users further into your site, but the page still has a high bounce rate, then it may be time for an adjustment.
Entrances- Some pages end up being a common landing site for incoming users, whether or not that was your intention. Identifying pages with surprisingly high traffic can help you funnel some of that traffic towards your goal.
Events – Pages– If you have event tracking set up, this report will also come into play. Tracking time on a page, page scrolling, or similar activities will cause Google Analytics to generate this report for every page, helping you you track each page’s engagement.
Hopefully this served as a reminder that Google Analytics is more than a view and click tracker. It’s an invaluable tool to understanding just how much work your site does, both for you and your users. Define your goals early, analyze how useful they are with the reports generated, and track how each change impacts your site. This simple process will improve your site. And.. if you still are having issues or unanswered questions, don’t hesitate to contact AnalyticsDevs support – we will be happy to talk about your data!