Intro to Google Analytics: Part 1 – Overview
For decades, grocery stores and major retailers have invested millions of dollars into studying the in-store traffic patterns of shoppers. This analysis has enabled sellers to optimize their floor plans and layouts for maximum sales. For a florist in 2017, your website is your most trafficked retail location (our research shows 10x more people visit a florist’s website than set foot in an actual flower shop), so understanding how people interact with your website is every bit as important as how you merchandise your storefront. While terms like “traffic,” “lead quality,” “brand perception,” and “bounce rate” may sound foreign at first, they are merely the online equivalent of what you are used to managing in-store. Google Analytics is the first step to collecting that useful information and making informed decisions.
This is the first article in a series about reading and understanding the data Google Analytics provides, and how to use that information to grow your business.
What It Does
Google Analytics is complex in function but simple in principle: it watches your website and gathers data about it. Who visits, how they visit, what they do when they visit. Where they go and what they click, what they follow to take them deeper into your sales funnel, and what sends them bouncing out to a competitor. Imagine you had a camera in your store that could track everyone who looked at your window, entered the store, examined items for sale, asked questions, and made a purchase.
The key to remember is that Google Analytics presents the data it gathers in easy-to-digest, actionable formats.
Installation & Setup
Installation of Google Analytics will depend entirely on the way your website is built. If you’re using a hosted service like Florist 2.0, Teleflora, or Flower Shop Network, then you can request that your service provider install the code for you. If you host your own site, you can install Google Analytics by adding some code. All of these options ultimately work the same way: you sign up for an Analytics account, acquire a tracking code, and install that code on your site. Google Analytics does the rest.
Notable Data Categories
The sheer amount of data Google Analytics throws at a user can be quite overwhelming at first. Until you establish a thorough understanding of the information available, what it means, and how you might use it, you’ll want to start with a broad understanding. As your literacy grows, you’ll be more comfortable knowing where to look for the information you want.
Audience – Who’s visiting your site
The Audience section of reports contains information about your guests, as best Google Analytics can identify them. This includes demographics data, general interests, location, language, and the technology they used to visit. This is crucial information if you’re aiming to segment your market for improved marketing, sales, and research.
You’ll also want to pay attention to the tech side of the data (it’s frequently overlooked, but important). If mobile devices or certain browsers struggle, then you’re going to get less traffic. In fact, Google considers factors like mobile friendliness and site speed when determining whether to show your site to their users. In other words, a site that isn’t mobile-friendly isn’t going to rank as well in search results.
Tech data can also tell you more about how your market breaks down than the other readily available audience data, in some markets. In many cases, iPhone users visiting your site with the built-in browser are very different people than Windows 10 users visiting your site with Firefox.
Acquisitions – Where do they come from?
Acquisition reports show data on how your site acquires guests — i.e., your traffic sources. You can sort it to learn how people are finding your site on search engines, what inbound traffic you’re getting from PPC campaigns, who is linking to your website, and what kind of social network traffic you’re seeing.
It’s also worth linking Google Analytics to Google Webmaster Tools to enrich the information you get about Search Engine Optimization on this set of data. That’s information about search terms used to reach your site and how well your site serves various keyword phrases.
Don’t get too hung up on total traffic numbers at the expense of all else — traffic that isn’t turning into leads isn’t worth anything, after all. Instead of finding your biggest sources of traffic, you’ll want to try to figure out your most valuable sources of traffic and focus your efforts appropriately.
Behaviour – What do they do?
Also known as content data, this section highlights the most visited pages of your site, how well your site loads, and which pages send users away. It’s crucial information for refining your sales funnel and improving the functionality of landing pages and other content on your site. You’ll want to be particularly alert to exit page data—if something on your site is losing you guests, you need to understand why. It may be a filtration of low-quality leads, which is fine, but it could also represent a loss of valuable prospects.
Conversions – Did they complete goals?
By setting up goals within Google Analytics, you can receive conversion data. This means that you need to help Google Analytics understand what you’re trying to do with your site. Goals can include contacting you, signing up for a newsletter, completing a wedding form, or – of course – buying some flowers for delivery.
Once you’ve set that up, you’ll be able to get any number of vital stats. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll be able to use Reverse Goal Path to see how visitors move through your site, from traffic source to landing page, on to the final goal. Conversion data will also be added to your other data tables within Google Analytics.
If you’re still not certain how to make the most of Google Analytics, don’t worry. There are a few directions you can take the information presented, depending on your goals as an organization. Some of the key applications of data include:
Improving traffic. The acquisitions data can be vital for improving inbound traffic on your site and helping you focus resources to optimal effect.
Improving traffic quality. If you identify traffic sources that aren’t converting or paths through your site that are leading to different values for leads, you can quickly adjust to produce better results.
Combining data from different sources can help you recognize segments within your market that are far more valuable than the obvious demographic breakdowns. “People who use Twitter and visit the site on a mobile device” likely share far more in common than demographic segments. Identify grouping behaviours or interests, and deliver tailored content for those different groups.
Site tweaking. Small changes can have a huge impact on your site — hard data should drive those changes. Use Google Analytics to analyze split tests and other adjustments to your site to optimize it to perfection.
Watch for Parts 2 and 3 of this series in the July and September issues of Canadian Florist. Check online for exclusive companion articles that go into further depth on the topics covered in each issue.