So, you spent some time to get and install the Google Analytics code and want to jump into the world of online tracking, reporting and optimization. Let’s be blunt here: you didn’t do this to geek out to your friends; you didn’t do this to boast how many page views you have; you did this to MAKE MONEY.
Right now with no direction, all you are doing is sorting through over- (or depending on the suite, under-) whelming numbers. They seem to have little value, and no one has any idea what to do with them. Until you learn what you are working with, those numbers are useless.
The goal now is to tackle your Google Analytics step by step and figure out how you can use your data. On Grok, FutureNow has talked about approaching your analysis process based on the buying stages, starting with approaching those areas of your site that are most broken for the late stage visitors. One of the main areas to tackle, beyond the “conversion funnel” for late stage visitors, is the initial point of contact your visitors make with your site – The Landing Pages. In the case where you’re looking specifically at the late stage experiences for paid search engine advertising, Google Adwords reporting can help tell you how successful your campaigns are, but you need to know what happens once people land on your site from these late stage campaigns.
The place to start finding this data is the Landing Page report. Click Content in Google’s navigation and the menu will expand to show the Landing Pages link. Look at your top landing pages and ask yourself a couple of questions:
Nowadays with Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google Plus and blogs, there are many sources of traffic sending visitors to your site. But having more traffic sources doesn’t make any difference if only one or two of them are actually making you money. So, after pulling the landing page report, take a look at each page individually. Google has a new tool called In-Page Analytics (Melissa wrote a post about one way our analysts like to use this tool), located in the bottom right corner. Click it, check it out, and let’s discuss another way to make use of this feature.
Spend a minute with each page and see where the top clicks are happening within this page, the traffic, time spent, and more importantly the bounce rate (how many people hit this page and immediately left). This tool helps us get some insights into what is happening for the visitors when they first land on the site. Set a calendar reminder and try to look at this report and these pages once a month. This data will change and it is important to get a good idea of how your customers are acting so you can optimize. Think of your website like a retail store: this is the first thing people see when entering and you need to know where they are going. Are they checking out the displays and featured items? Are they running to the clearance rack? Or are they taking one step in and leaving your store?
Looking at people’s first move on your site is only the beginning of understanding how you can make more money online. If your bounce rate is high on these pages, optimize the pages! Start by asking yourself…
Lots of insight can be gained, and basic needs for landing pages can be fixed, by testing with Google Website Optimizer. So go ahead and TEST TEST TEST! Reduce your bounce rate and move customers forward to find what they want. And if you’re stumped by the question of knowing what to test, don’t just start testing everything… be smart about it and try out the Move, Remove or Improve strategy. Or get help from a pro. There are plenty of companies out there offering help with conversion rate optimization and/or testing, like FutureNow’s OnTarget subscriptions for website improvement. Whatever you do, don’t just sit on your data!