We live in the day of big data. Each day, whether you like it or not, tons and tons of data are being scraped all around us. While we may not appreciate some data collection, other forms of data collection are useful for marketing our businesses and organizations.
When it comes to website data, it’s easy to fall into two camps: those with tunnel vision and those who are overwhelmed.
If you’ve ever jumped into Google Analytics then you’ve probably experienced the latter and been dazed by the amount of data available.
It’s easy to fall into the other camp, too. You get tunnel vision around the amount of sessions or page views you’re getting on your website. Those easily become the only metrics of importance, yet they DO NOT tell the whole story of your website performance.
Why Sessions & Page Views Aren’t the Full Story
Consider this: your website receives 1,000 visitors/sessions per week. Upon first glance that appears good, right? Maybe you compare that to a competitor who only receives 750 visitors per month. You then think you’re performing better than them.
However, here’s the bombshell --
Your 1,000 visitors are only spending 56 seconds on your website on average. For your competitor, 750 visitors are spending two minutes on their website. All of a sudden the amount of visitors doesn’t quite mean as much because your visitors are less engaged than your competitor’s visitors.
This is why one metric, like the amount of sessions per week/month, isn’t the full story. If you receive tons of visits but no one really likes your website or what you have to say, then what’s the point?
I think we’d all take 10 highly engaged people versus 50 not-so-engaged people.
So, let’s look at four pieces of data that help us have a bigger, fuller story of what’s going on with our website.
Piece #1 - Bounce Rate
What is it?
Bounce rate is the percentage of people who enter a page and immediately return to where they came from.
Why is this important?
Bounce rate is a great indicator of “stickiness” - a webpage’s ability to keep someone’s attention versus not. If your page is “sticky” then it will grab the visitor’s attention. If it isn’t, they’re going to go back.
Let’s say you’re searching for black dress shoes on Google and you click into a Nordstrom page for dress shoes, but there are only brown shoes, so you bounce back to where you came from after only a few seconds. Why did you bounce? Because you were looking for black dress shoes and the webpage didn’t have what you needed, so you left.
Bounce rate provides a fuller story of a website’s health. If 80% of visitors to your homepage are bouncing, then you have some work to do. Maybe you’re not providing specific enough content. Maybe you aren’t telling the visitor what to do next. Maybe the visitor is just flat out confused.
We need to consider bounce rate for each of our pages, but especially our top-level pages, like the homepage of a website. If the bounce rate is above 50-60%, then we need to start asking WHY?
Piece #2 - Device Category
What is it?
Google Analytics can easily show you a breakdown of devices accessing your website - desktop, tablet or mobile - and the percentage of users from each category.
Why is it important?
Sometimes we only design a website or a webpage for the device we’re currently using. In most cases, someone at work might be viewing a website at a desktop and design/edit a page for that device. However, more people might be accessing the website from a mobile device. The result – I didn’t consider most users when creating the webpage. So my mobile experience might be horrible and that could be affecting 75% of visitors on my site.
Let’s say you add a new page to your website showcasing a new service. You’re creating the page at work on your desktop computer. You add text, photos and even embed a video. Everything looks nice and even actionable. You push the page live. Later that week you check the page on your iPhone. You notice there’s actually too much text (you have to scroll too much) and the embedded video is actually breaking some of the content. You double check Google Analytics for the device categories and you notice 65% of visitors to that page are viewing on mobile. OH NO!
Before we design a website or even a new webpage, we need to be familiar with how our visitors are interacting with the site. If we aren’t familiar, then we can easily make the mistake above. And honestly, we’ve all been there. But let’s not go on making the same mistake.
Let’s get a fuller picture of who our visitors are, what they’re using and what they need. Ultimately they dictate what and how we create our web experiences.
Piece #3 - Top Performing Content
What is it?
Within Google Analytics you can view your most viewed webpages along with other page metrics.
Why is it important?
Viewing your top 10-25 webpages tells the true story of what people are viewing on your website and what they are navigating to.
Let’s say you operate a packing and moving company. In your mind, you think more people are visiting your moving services webpage. In reality, more people are visiting your packing services page. The only problem is you didn’t think was the case. As a result, you don’t have much content or prominent contact information on your packing services page, possibly missing out on more leads.
We need to actively check the top performing content on our websites because it indicates what visitors are seeking. If more people are looking into one service over another, maybe it’s time to bolster that webpage and even invest in new sales tactics - such as introducing a chat option so someone can immediately reach out to someone on your sales team.
This also comes in handy when you’re blogging on a regular basis because you can gauge interest in various topics. If more people reading about social media strategy, then you need to invest more time into additional content around that topic.
Piece #4 - Goal Tracking
What is it?
Within Google Analytics you can create goals for all sorts of things, but the most popular goal we track is the submission of a contact form, which denotes a lead.
Why is it important?
Tracking goals and conversions helps us get even more granular with performance. Goals allow us to see which pages are truly turning visitors into engagers and leads.
Let’s say you want to test whether a simple or more complex contact form will perform better. You create two landing pages for your service and one has the simpler form and the other has the more complex form. After running ads to both pages, your goal tracking shows that more people completed the simpler form. Now you know to put all of your attention on that landing page versus the other. On the flip side, you might find a more detailed form performed better - who knows what you could learn.
Tracking goals opens us to a very full picture of how a website is performing. With it, you’re not sure where people are taking action. And without that you can’t truly be sure where to focus and spend advertising money.
First up, you need to some sort of web analytics for your website. Google Analytics is the industry standard because it’s so robust and it’s free.
Next, you need to be looking at the full story with these metrics and more. You and your team need to be asking the tough questions - why are people bouncing here? Did we design this page only for desktop? Are we tracking any goals?
If you’re not sure where to begin with all of this, we can certainly help you master your data!
Let's Talk Data Metrics