Choosing KPIs in Google Analytics
As more brands continue to invest in their online persona and digital marketing initiatives, it’s becoming increasingly important for marketing service providers (MSPs) to verifiably demonstrate the value of their work. The most successful and recommendable MSPs push to measure the impact their work has beyond a simple transactional level; by mapping and tracking multiple touch points throughout the customer lifecycle.
Know Your Client Inside and Out
When it comes to choosing appropriate key performance indicators (KPIs), it’s crucial to go beyond the surface level of sales. Every client has a different set of core business objectives, so the web analytics strategy that you implement should align with those objectives and be catered to your customer’s overall vision of success. The first step in defining the key performance indicators for a given campaign is to get to know the needs of your client and their business.
“Meet with your client. Call them on the phone. Shoot them an email. However you prefer to communicate, just get it done! Learn the history of your client. Meet or talk to the people that work there. Find out a bit about their local area. Get to know their business’s previous and current struggles. Discover the ways in which their business has had success in the past.”*
Once you have a deep understanding of your client and their business, you can more effectively map out the touch points that you’ll track and the metrics you’ll use to measure success. There are three key areas that you’ll want to focus on when it comes to mapping KPIs at different phases of the customer journey:
Allow the Customer Journey to Determine Your KPIs
Keep in mind: these are only a few of the most common KPIs that marketing service providers track. The possibilities are endless!
Websites without a steady stream of traffic are dead in the water. Regardless of the amount of time you’ve spent designing your site and crafting the perfect copy, there won’t be any action further down the funnel until you start to attract new visitors. Luckily, there’s no shortage of opportunities to demonstrate the effect you’ve had on generating new traffic!
1. Traffic by Channel
Google Analytics captures and records the performance of each of your marketing channels so you can clearly attribute traffic to individual campaigns; how granular you’d like to get in your reporting is up to you.
Each channel will increase depending on the number and type of marketing campaigns you put in place. Strong search engine optimization will lead to an increase in organic search traffic; great PR work and reputation management may lead to increases in direct and referral traffic. It’s up to you to determine which channels you’ll focus on in order to tell the most compelling narrative of success to your client.
2. Users/New Users
In the screenshot above, you may notice that there are multiple data points in the columns labeled Acquisitions. Google Analytics provides more than one metric in each category so that you have more flexibility in determining what constitutes success for each campaign. A client looking to increase their brand visibility may be more interested in the number of new users to their site, whereas a client looking to increase user retention or new user sign-ups may be more concerned with the total user number.
Depending on your client’s goals, it may be more beneficial to focus on sessions versus users. For example, a client hoping to increase the engagement rate of their current customer base may hope to increase the number of monthly sessions that their site receives.
Once a user has landed on a site, understanding how they interact with and flow through the various subpages is essential. Under the Behavior area in Google Analytics, you’ll find a number of reports that include metrics like page views, average time on page, bounce rate, and more. These metrics will allow you to map the ways in which your work on the website have directly affected customer behavior.
1. Page Views
Describing the total amount of traffic you’ve generated is important when discussing the acquisition phase, but when focusing on user behavior and the next step of the customer journey, it’s necessary to get more granular. We all know website design projects and digital marketing campaigns involve new pages, new menus, and new forms. Being able to track which areas of the site are most engaging and effective is crucial. In Google Analytics, the Site Content section will provide numerous views to allow you to analyze the performance of individual pages on a site.
2. Average Time on Page
Being able to show a client that a page you created is garnering a significant amount of new page views is great, but not if those users are dissatisfied. A simple way to understand the effectiveness of a page is to analyze the average time that a user is spending on the page. Depending on the purpose of a page, it may be more beneficial to have a longer average time on page. For example, a lengthy and informative pillar page should keep visitors reading; alternatively, sites with video may have longer average time on page, since users will be watching a clip and remaining on the page. In contrast, an FAQ page or a contact page should have a comparatively lower average time on page since you expect users to find information quickly.
3. Bounce Rate
To take an analysis of page interactions one step further, you may want to look at the bounce rate of individual pages on a site. In Google Analytics, the bounce rate metric shows the percentage of sessions that include only a single page visit and zero interactions. In other words, if a user visits your site and leaves without interacting at all, that session will be considered a “bounce.” A high bounce rate isn’t always a negative! As in the example above, depending on the objective of a page a high bounce rate may actually indicate success. For example, an FAQ page that seeks to provide users with quick and simple answers to everyday questions might have a bounce rate that verges on 90% or higher; this could indicate that users were able to quickly find the info they needed and then left. Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine how to interpret the data.
What exactly constitutes a conversion will differ from client to client based on their overall business objectives. E-commerce clients may want to increase website sales or newsletter sign-ups; service-based clients may want to increase the number of calls they receive or the actual number of bookings the site generates. Regardless of what type of conversion is chosen, this should be clearly defined at the start of a campaign so all parties are on the same page since conversions come in many forms.
Note: tracking conversions requires the additional setup of goals in Google Analytics.
1. Number of Conversions
Once you set up a goal in your account, Google Analytics will begin to track the number of conversions that take place connected to this goal. Number of Conversions on its own is a powerful metric; however, it is best used in conjunction with fiscal data from your client to calculate the ROI of your campaigns. Be sure to ask your client the average value of a conversion for their business. Remember that this will differ depending on the conversion type you choose: a phone call and a closed sale may both be conversions, but they aren’t valued the same. Once you understand the value of each conversion type for your client, you’re able to multiply the total number of conversions by that number to provide a monetary value for ROI.
2. Conversion Rate
When comparing the effectiveness of two pages side by side, it’s often easier to compare their respective conversion rates over a defined time period rather than the total number of conversions. Conversion rate is the total number of conversions divided by the total number of visitors a page received during a given time period, giving you a better idea of a site’s top performing pages. A page that receives 100 visits and converts 50 of them is much more powerful than a page that receives 5 visits and converts all 5.
Use Multiple Metrics to Demonstrate Success
The most important lesson to be learned when it comes to web analytics is that one metric is never enough. Numbers don’t lie, but interpretations do. Before presenting a particular narrative to your client, be sure that you have the necessary data to support it. Following the suggestions outlined above will help you track and analyze the effect of your work for your clients in a compelling and data-backed way.