On Page 1 of the Tune-Up Kit, we covered the following:
- Start with Your Company’s Ideals: Your communication needs to flow from the central tenets of your company
- Your Company Ideals and Your Offer: What tactics you’ll take to motivate people
- Strategy Evaluation: Reviewing your ideas before building
- Test the Structure: Test your website navigation as you get started
Page 2 (this page) will cover the remaining topics:
- Getting Started with Analytics: Use Google’s free tool to get a real understanding of user behavior
- Set up Your Own Dashboard: Compile your own metrics into a separate system
- Recommended Resources: All the software, book, and site recommendations in one place
Need to Read the Rest of the Guide Later?
You can download a copy this guide in PDF form. Click the button below to jump down to the bottom of the page for details.
Getting Started with Analytics
Once your website is live (or if it’s already live), you need to understand how effective your site is at accomplishing its main goal. There are certainly a lot of tools that you can use to do this, but a great starting point is Google Analytics.
Let’s take a look at some of the top reports in Google Analytics to understand how well a website is fulfilling its goals.
Top-Level Performance Indicators
The most useful reports in Google Analytics are the ones that require a bit of customization on your end.
Google Analytics’ sidebar menus to find Conversions
If you have taken the time to set up goals within Google Analytics, the Conversions section will help you understand how often users are taking the actions that you want them to on the website. Google Analytics’ goals are highly customizable, so you can record all types of actions in the space.
I find that most companies can get away with some of the simpler goals set ups. For instance, just understanding how many times someone completed a form request is a big help.
One of the big things to pay attention to with goals is not only how many people completed the goal but also looking to understand more about the people who did.
For instance, are people on mobile devices completing the form more often? Did people from Facebook complete the form?
These are the kinds of things that you can look for if your goals are set up.
Google Analytics doesn’t automatically set up goals for you, so you’ll have to take some steps in order to get this established for your analytics set up if you haven’t already.
Check out Google’s support documentation along with the video below to get started.
Analytics restricts you to a relatively small amount of goals per view. This can get kind of annoying if you regularly want to switch what you are tracking.
Events provide a nice middle ground between Google Analytics’ regularly provided stats and your main goals. Events provide custom tracking that you can set up for your site to be able to track a wider array of user interactions.
I have used events to track things like the number of outbound clicks on particular resources I wanted to highlight.
I’ve also used events to track the number of times people click on the link in the footer as opposed to the link in the navigation. While Analytics will tell you how many times somebody went to a particular page, events give you finer control in your understanding of user behavior.
Thankfully, events have become much simpler to set up without the help of the developer. Google Tag Manager is a robust system that will allow you to go wild with tracking practically every type of interaction.
I definitely recommend that you keep things simple as you’re getting started.
Tag Manager is beyond the scope of what we will cover in this particular chapter, but I have found it immensely helpful for people that aren’t developers or don’t have access to developers and for people that work in large companies or for large websites where development releases are highly structured and require several layers of approval before anything goes live. Tag Manager allows you to be nimble when it is becoming increasingly important to be able to do so.
Lower-Level Performance Indicators
The default reports that Google provides are still important (and even more so if you don’t have goals or events set up yet), but you need to combine more of these reports to understand the true health of your website.
Overall Site Traffic and Users
I never expect any one report to give me the entire story of how users are interacting with the website.
The things to look for in your traffic include the following:
- Trends up or down over the course of weeks or months
- New vs. returning users
- How often readers leave before visiting more than one page (called your bounce rate)
Right now, we’re just getting some sort of sense of how often people view your site and to what extent.
I am not looking to solve anything using this one area of reporting, but it does help me understand what report to look at next.
For instance, if I see strong amounts of traffic coming to the website but low amounts of traffic actually completing the goals we have set up, then I can start looking for what devices people are using or what sources are sending the traffic to our site in order to optimize the experience for those audiences.
Let’s take a look at the device report and the sources report to understand more.
Based on a variety of websites that I have interacted with professionally, I see the breakdown between mobile and desktop usage vary drastically. It simply isn’t the case that all websites are now getting a majority of mobile traffic.
Some sites contain information that is very easily consumable on a mobile device while websites for some companies contain information that is only useful if you have the time to sit down and consume it with more analysis in mind.
Think about a website that contains complicated machinery parts information and allows you to compare the parts. That’s not something that is easily viewable on an iPhone.
Your Audience’s Experience
You need to understand how your website is being viewed. Once you understand, you need to take a look at your website from that device.
If people are using desktops more often, you need to make sure that you’re focusing on the desktop experience. Of course your website should be compatible for any device, but focus on continuing to improve the experience that your audience uses most.
One of the big issues I see when it comes to understanding why people are or are not converting (completing the goal that you had set) is reviewing the audience journeying through the website on the device that people are using most often.
In Analytics (in the browser), go to the sidebar navigation and select Audience. Scroll down to Mobile, and take a look at Overview.
You can understand a quick overview of desktop versus tablet versus mobile with this report.
You can get really geeky with the exact specifications of the mobile devices in the Device report (the option just under Overview on the side nav).
This image is from the same data set as the one pictured above. Notice that “191 users” matches up with the number of users from mobile + tablet in the Overview report.
If you are attempting to get your audience to your website from a variety of platforms, then it becomes increasingly important to understand which sources for your traffic are most important.
Please keep in mind that the traffic numbers on their own are not the true indicator of how important that audiences. You need to know how often they convert.
If you are getting a ton of traffic from Google display ads but they are never taking any important actions, then you need to evaluate the importance of that audience.
You may decide that this traffic is worthwhile because it gets people familiar with your site and your brand, and it also helps get that audience into a remarketing program that you have.
Those are the kinds of decisions that you could make if you’re keeping track.
Let’s jump in. In Analytics’ side navigation, go to Acquisition and select Overview. This shows you the top channels for the ways your site gets traffic.
The default “channels” that Google Analytics uses to report includes
- Organic Search
- Paid Search
- Other Advertising
- (unavailable) or (other)
You likely will not see all of these channel names in your report. Don’t worry about trying to get them all. Just focus on which sources are bringing you the best traffic.
If you look under Behavior and then under Site Content, you’ll find a report called Landing Pages.
When planning web content, many people believe that the homepage will be the starting point of your audience’s journey. Depending on your website, you could have a very small number that actually start the journey at your homepage.
You may still have a number of people that get to the homepage eventually, but I’ve seen many sites where a blog post was the top performing piece of content.
In some cases you may have upwards of 50% of your traffic coming to a single page on your site. Take a look at that top performing piece of content and ask yourself whether you are giving people the opportunity to take the action that is most important to them and to your company.
If you have enough traffic, you’ll want to relentlessly test on this page to keep figuring out how to improve the experience for your audience.
If you are not getting a ton of traffic but the number of people coming to the page is still steady, then you should still look for ways to improve your calls to action.
I wrote about the Navigation Summary report on my site, and the report can be a good indicator to understand how successful you are at getting people from that initial landing page to the next piece of content that’s most relevant.
The Whole Story
Again, I cannot stress enough how important it is that you do not make major decisions based on any single report that you find in Analytics.
There is a wealth of information that can tell you a full story. Be sure that you’re putting all of the insights together that you are learning from all of your reports.
One last caveat: when you make changes, ensure that you are giving yourself enough time to understand the impact.
I have quickly claimed victory after making changes to the website only to see those changes have an unexpected effect later on. Be patient, and document well.
Set Up Your Own Dashboard
All of the Google Analytics reports and tree testing that we’ve looked at so far help us understand what users are doing, but how well do we understand if our ideals are really shining through?
Can we know if our organization objectives are being met?
When I needed to understand how all of our messaging efforts are coming together at work, I created a dashboard to understand all of the key metrics and to be able to identify where the process might be breaking down.
This is where we tie it all together.
Depending on your messaging and tools, your dashboard could look very different from what I need to establish for my efforts. Conceptually, we are looking for stats that reflect the true health of what we’re trying to achieve.
I know that there are lots of reporting tools out there, and some of them may even be able to pull everything together for you. Despite working with several of these tools, I still go back to creating a Google Sheet and listing all of the information there.
I can get good reports on various aspects of our marketing efforts, depending on the tool that we’re using for that particular effort (Raven Tools, SEMRush, Google Analytics, ActiveCampaign, and others).
At the end of the day, I need a space where the restrictions of my reporting tools do not get in my way, and I can place information from various sources all in one spot.
I look at our marketing efforts in different groupings. The first group would be the stuff that is external to our website. The next group would be all of the assets and materials available from our website. The last group is the sales results from all of this work.
My Marketing Dashboard
In the External category, I want to know how people are hearing about us. This may include a few of the following stats:
- Social Media Engagement
- Podcast Downloads
- Keyword Ranking
Despite being a fan of digital marketing, I still find myself overlooking the potential reach of social media. All the news of social media’s decline in organic reach has made me reluctant to focus on social, but the stats make me pay attention.
Social media engagement is not just about getting a click to another website anymore, but the opportunity to build relationship is still just as strong.
I’m delving into search engine optimization (SEO) stats here a bit with keywords and backlinks, and that bears a much larger discussion if that’s not something you’re already familiar with.
Since we’re so focused on messaging and getting people through your site effectively in this piece, I’d advise you for the time being to check out sites like Moz and Ahrefs for great blogs that can give you more detail.
In the Onsite category, I want to know if people are taking action once I get them to our site.
Depending on your customer relationship management system, you may be able to easily see how many impressions your forms are getting to be able to create a conversion percentage. If you have to go the more manual route, then you can use Analytics destination goals to see how many people viewed the page where your form lives and then follow through to the thank you screen in order to download their assets or subscribe to your newsletter (whatever your particular call to action is).
The few stats that I’m collecting for the second category of understanding how people behave once they get to us are not enough to truly diagnose what needs to happen to increase the number of conversions or to improve the quality.
For that kind of work, will need more information both from Google Analytics and from Mouseflow (a session-recording tool that includes heat maps). Still, these few stats will help me understand if I’m trending in the right direction.
Just to provide a little more clarity, here are the key stats I’m watching for Onsite:
- Total Traffic
- Traffic to Our Marketing Assets
- Number of Conversions per Key Asset
- Number of Leads in Our Drip Campaign
Lastly, I want to understand my Sales Results:
- Total Sales per Month
- Sales Leads per Pipeline Stage
Of course, I want to know how many sales we are completing and how much revenue we’re generating on a monthly basis. The other number I am interested in is the number of potential deals in the pipeline in our customer relationship management (CRM) tool.
(Depending on your CRM and the tools available within, you may want to leverage it to help with many more customer insights. Google Analytics helps us understand what groups of people are doing, and your CRM or a session-recording tool like Mouseflow can greatly help you understand what individuals are doing to a much finer degree.)
We’ve gone through the hard work of improving our sales processes and personalizing those conversations enough, but we need to make sure that enough deals are in the works so that we can get some sort of idea of how many we can realistically win.
Please note, my purpose with this dashboard is not to have all of the stats I can possibly obtain in one place. With this dashboard, I am seeking to distill the information as much as possible to get down to the few things that really matter.
I expect that the metrics I observed most will change as I begin to understand which components are truly most important, but we have to start somewhere.
Connecting the Dots between Intent and Messaging
We’re only skimming the surface on a topic where we can devote many, many hours, but I hope you’re getting the chance to see how your organization ideals can shine through the way you communicate with your audience and how you can begin to measure its effectiveness.
If your audience is moving in the direction you hope (taking the actions you’ve defined), then you’re off to a good start.
If not, it doesn’t mean that everything is broken. I’ve fallen into this trap before of thinking I needed to scrap an entire project. The goal here is to break down each point in the communication process so that you can see where the real disconnect is occurring.
Only then can you bridge the gap between you and your audience.
Please note that there are plenty of alternatives for each of the suggestions below, but these tools will provide you with a great starting point. All of the software mentioned contains a link to the product website
- Tree Testing: Treejack by Optimal Workshop – paid solution
- Web Traffic: Google Analytics – free solution
- Spreadsheet for Personalized Dashboard: Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel – free for Sheet, paid for Excel
- Session Recording / Heat Maps: Mouseflow – paid solution
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM): ActiveCampaign or Salesforce – paid solutions
- Grow by Jim Stengel
- This Is Marketing by Seth Godin
- Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller
- https://moz.com/blog for search engine optimization
- https://ahrefs.com/blog/ for search engine optimization
I’ve written about these ideas here throughout the site, but I wanted to pull together everything you needed into a single download.
This ebook contains the same kinds of approaches that I’ve used with several companies’ websites, including the company where I work and with large corporations with which we’ve consulted.
The ebook will give you the tools you need to really evaluate where you’re at and to start planning on the changes you can implement to improve your audience’s journey.
You’ll also be subscribed to a twice-a-month email where I’ll bring you new content from the site as well as current observations on what’s happening with marketing and where it’s going.