Intro to Google Analytics: Part 2—Understanding What You See
Now that you’ve established an understanding of Google Analytics, it’s time to implement your strategy and get the most out of your data. Easy, right? In truth, with large considerations such as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and metrics to take into account, simply trying to determine whether your numbers are good or bad can overwhelm you. So, how do you evaluate these figures to know how your ecommerce site is performing?
KPIs: Measuring Success
Before you get started, you need to identify your website’s aims, and whether they can be classed as macro or micro. Macro objectives centre on general goals, such as getting as many business inquiries as possible, whereas micro objectives are more specific, such as getting visitors to view a gallery of your new line of bouquets. Once you know which angle you want/need to take first, it’s time to address your KPIs.
Choosing which KPIs you pay attention to depends on your goals. For example, if you have a new shop and your website has only been live for a few months, you may want to monitor trends in how people reach your website. The Channels report (under the Acquisitions menu) will let you view and compare traffic from important sources like Search, Social, Referrals, and Direct Traffic. It’s important to remember that your best benchmark is your own history, so worry more about your own growth than about what other websites are doing.
Another KPI that is key to evaluating your data: your page loading times. You’ll find this under “Site Speed” in your Analytics overview. Intrinsically linked to bounce rate (which we will review more in more detail below), long loading times turn off customers and likely impact a plethora of your other website stats, including your search engine ranking. You can assume that a slow load means fewer customers: when people are browsing ecommerce sites, they don’t like to wait and will likely turn to your competitors. With more and more people shopping on mobile devices, this becomes more important each day.
Metrics: Staying On Target
Let’s look at bounce rate as an example of an important metric. When people click on your site, you want them to stay on your site and move through pages to reach a goal. If they decide not to stay—reasons for which typically include irrelevant content, poor design or slow loading times—then this will appear in your metrics as a “bounce”. The Bounce Rate is a representation of how often a user visits your site and bounces away without interacting with any elements or pages.
Assessing your page viewing numbers is an easy way to identify the good from the bad. While the site-wide bounce rate number is of little use, examining the bounce rate of specific pages can help identify which ones need improvement. You can also identify quality sources of traffic by examining the rate at which they bounce from the site. Sources that send more engaged traffic should be nurtured, while sources of low-quality traffic should receive less emphasis from your marketing work.
As an ecommerce site owner, you prioritize conversions as an instrumental metric to your business. In other words: more sales are good, declining sales are bad. This makes it all the more important to regularly assess your conversion rate, so you can then identify any problem areas that don’t result in your desired goal.
For example, Mother’s Day is coming up soon. Let’s assume you are offering a 10% off coupon for bouquets for moms that can only be obtained through an email subscription, and have set a goal of getting 100 people to subscribe over the next seven days. However, you notice that you have a fairly low conversion rate for customers subscribing: only 37 people out of 500 website visitors signed up despite your offer. How do you improve this figure?
The simplest solution is to make minor changes and use metrics to assess how these changes affect your conversion rates. In this scenario, perhaps you look at where the subscription offer is placed on your landing page. Is it a pop-up? Is it noticeable? Is your phrasing clear and concise? Referring to your Analytics, you can monitor your progress as you tweak individual elements and evaluate what works for you. Conversion rates are one of the metrics you can swiftly improve: just keep those website goals at the forefront of your mind when implementing change.
Knowing which stats you want to see high or low numbers for can be unclear. However, you can evaluate your site by checking Analytics for these statistics: content, traffic sources, visitors, unique visitors, page views, bounce rate (on key pages), and average time on site. The only time you want to see a low figure within these key metrics is in bounce rate. The same tactic can be applied here as we did for conversion rates: make small changes while continually monitoring your metrics. Wins can be permanently implemented, while dips in percentages can be ruled out for further use.
In summary, while it’s important to assess how positive or negative your Analytics statistics are, keeping your site’s aims at the forefront of your mind is the most important thing to ensure e-commerce success. Tailor your intermediate metric and KPI goals around your primary focus—e.g. making new sales—and use Google Analytics as an accurate way to monitor your business growth.