Google Analytics is a website analytics service run by Google that monitors, tracks and reports traffic to websites. It is currently the most-used web analytics service in the world and is relied on by businesses and individuals managing websites of all shapes, sizes and types.
Analytics about who is visiting your website and how they are interacting with it can be used for considerably more than just ongoing performance monitoring.
If done correctly, this service can be used to [gain customer insights] that can be turned into major development, improvement and growth actions.
Turning the figures listed in the Google Analytics dashboard into usable business intelligence is simple and requires just a basic level of understanding of the tool’s metrics and potential.
Setting up Google Analytics
To [install Google Analytics], a piece of code must be placed into the website’s infrastructure. This installs the appropriate tracking metrics and allows for user/visitor data to be fed through to the Google Analytics user interface.
This can be done through a direct copy-and-paste or through a web editor.
Although Google Analytics will start tracking and recording information right away, it is best to leave the software to measure visitor activity for at least a few weeks in order to properly understand the behaviours and journeys made on the website.
The data collected by Google Analytics is presented using an interactive dashboard, accessible either through a web browser or a specific Google Analytics app for smartphones and devices.
There are also third-party applications that can be linked with other software to display Google Analytics data feeds.
Understanding Analytics: Traffic Sources
Google Analytics identifies the [sources of traffic] that customers visiting a website are coming from. It will show the website that visitors have clicked through from or that they have typed a web address directly into the browser.
What’s more, in the case of visitors having found the website through a search engine, it will present the search words or terms used to find it. This data can be scanned through from the world’s 20 largest search engines as well as all Google sites and services.
Understanding how customers arrive at the website allows businesses to target their marketing communications to fit customer requirements and maximise customer intake.
Understanding Analytics: Audience Demographics
The Audience tab within Google Analytics demonstrates the [demographics of those who visit the website].
This includes the country and city the visitor is situated within, the web browser used, the language the website is accessed in, the OS (Operating System) used, the ISP (Internet Service Provider) used and the screen resolution of the device accessing the website.
This data can be used in various ways to improve business offerings. Translations can be improved in the case of differing languages, websites adapted to work responsively to fit different screen resolution and browser requirements and communications optimised to fit local appetites and attitudes.
Working to meet the needs of customers through audience data also allows for customer expectations to be exceeded — to surprise and delight those visiting the website and increase the likelihood that they will convert and respond to a call-to-action.
Understanding Analytics: Conversions
Google Analytics allows businesses [to input goals for visitors to achieve on the website].
Most commonly, this is the completion of an online purchase or a contact information form. The tool tracks how visitors move through the website and when or if they complete the goal.
Understanding metrics like visitor movement and how likely a visitor is to take a set action allows businesses to determine how best to encourage and nurture these actions in the future.
Different courses of action can be tested and trialled in order to find the formula that works best for each audience and to increase the rate of sales/contacts/designated actions.
Where to Access More Information on Google Analytics
Google Analytics is not the most intuitive of systems, particularly for those who don’t usually use metric tracking software, but there is plenty of help available for those wanting to start using it.
Google offers a [free Analytics Academy course] for everyone, which includes video and written training material setting out detailed guides to each aspect of the system.
Using Customer Insights to Improve Business
Customer behaviour may not always fit the expectations or perceptions held by those running a business.
It may be the case that in order to meet customer needs, the business direction may only require small tweaks and changes rather than major pivots.
Understanding what customers truly want, alongside how they will work to get it, allows businesses to understand how to achieve this in a cost-effective manner while nurturing healthy, happy, loyal consumer relationships along the way.