Google Analytics and Inbound Marketing

By Scott Anderson Miller

Google Analytics is a powerful free tool measuring your inbound hub — your website. In addition to providing a robust set of website data, Google Analytics allows you to connect your Google AdWords account, integrating your paid search metrics. Tagging your inbound campaigns facilitates additional measuring of your inbound marketing efforts. Google Analytics is the digital marketing’s industry standard measure.

Starting with Google Analytics

Starting off with the basics is usually the best with any new software and Google Analytics is no exception. So if you’re that person who starts a project and reads the instructions later, resist the urge. Start off with the basics and build your analytics set in a step-by-step process at first, because you probably don’t fully understand what you’ll want to measure in the future.

Go slowly by internalizing the dashboard reports for a couple months then decide which custom reports, if any, make sense to measure. And even then be disciplined in the type and volume of reports you build. Just because you can measure something doesn’t mean you should. Measure only those factors that contribute to your online marketing and business objectives.

Here’s how to start with Google Analytics:

  1. Set up GA goals (start with simple goals) based on website activity you want to measure, which may include:

    • E-commerce

    • Conversions

    • Specific marketing events/initiatives

  2. Install tracking codes on your website (or have your developer do it).

  3. Review dashboard reports, identifying those metrics important to your marketing/business objectives and use as a baseline.

  4. Link other appropriate Google accounts into your GA reporting metrics including:

    • AdWords for your paid search on Google

    • E-commerce, if you are an online retailer

    • AdSense if you are an online content publisher and are a part of Google’s network.

    • Google+ integration

  5. Review your keywords, optimizing for your paid search efforts and using (with much more limitations now) for SEO as much as the tool allows.

  6. Tag your inbound campaigns.

    This is important to you as an inbound marketer, especially if you choose not to implement marketing automation software with tracking. Tagging your email, paid search, and other initiatives creates sourcing information enabling you to evaluate where you visitors, leads, and customers originated.

  7. Consider setting up custom reports after you have familiarized and internalized the basic reports.

Learning the Google Analytics dashboard

The Google Analytics dashboard displays your website’s key statistics and you should familiarize yourself with at least the basics. Knowing your website visitors’ onsite behavior helps you make intelligent, data-driven decisions. In other words, instead of using speculation, intuition, or “common sense” (which is rarely “common” or “sensible”), to decide your future online marketing path, improve your future efforts by studying and acting upon behavioral data specific to people on your website.

On the Google Analytics dashboard (see the following figure), you’ll find the following:

  • Sessions: This states how many times your website was accessed. It includes people who visited your site only one time and people who visited your website repeatedly.

  • Users: These are the number of unique visitors to your website. Unique visitors (rather than website traffic) is a key factor in figuring accurate conversion rates.

  • Pageviews: Looking at page views provides clues as to how engaged your average visitor is. The deeper someone ventures into your website, the more total page views. More page views means more user engagement.

  • Pages/Session: This metric shows an average of how many pages were viewed each time a person visited your website. When visitors consume more pages per session it signals content consumption, which is a good thing.

  • Avg. Session Duration: Measuring visitor’s average session time. More time spent on site signals deeper engagement.

  • Bounce Rate: A bounce occurs when a visitor visits only one page and exits your site. This is different than exit rate, which is a measurement of the percentage of people leaving your site from a particular page after viewing multiple pages.

  • % New Sessions: Knowing the ratio of New Visitors to Returning Visitors illuminates the degree to which your inbound tactics are attracting and reattracting. Applying a filter in “Segments” may shine light on different paths to conversion and nonconversion, providing clues as to where on your website you can navigate traffic to pave a frictionless path toward conversion.

    The Google Analytics dashboard.

    The Google Analytics dashboard.

Knowing why you are measuring

You are analyzing two different areas of performance in Google Analytics:

  • Users’ onsite behavior

  • Technical website performance

Of the reports listed below, site download speed is the only one that is a directly technical issue. You may be able to detect other technical issues by seeing symptoms in your other reports. For instance, other metrics, such as a high bounce rate, could be a function of a website’s technical deficiencies (such as a 404 “Page Not Found” error) or it could be a function of something else, such as poor content or poor navigation.