Auditing Analytics Goals & Finding Conversion Opportunities
In past posts, I’ve reviewed the differences between working for an agency and working as an in-house SEO/SEM strategist. From the questions you’ll be asked to the reporting you’ll have to provide, there are major difference between both of these careers. Clients often ask questions like, “What’s the bounce rate on these pages, while in-house specialists often hear, “How does the page value relate to return on investment?” Internal marketing teams often ask questions around specific metrics in line with ROI, while clients might get more caught up on vanity metrics. There is one metric though, that is cherished among agencies and in-house specialists alike. What’s that metric you ask? Conversions.
Conversions come in many names – goals, events, purchases or simply conversions – but they all explain information about the same thing. Barring a few restrictions, any action that the website owner wants a user to take or measure on the site can be considered a conversion. A few examples may include:
· Demo requests
· Video views
· Link clicks
· Scroll depth
· Downloaded files
· Outbound link clicks
· Social media shares and many, many more
Measuring these actions, testing for better results and quickly optimizing the site based on those experiments is the key to building a highly-engaging and successful site. Whether you’re a mom and pop shop in the country backwoods with no online sales or an e-commerce business operating out of New York City, a strong digital presence is key. That’s why we’re going in-depth on conversion optimization this week.
Last week we talked about a few great tips and ideas on Google Analytics auditing with the help of Fred Pike of Northwoods Digital Solutions, and we’re going to continue that trend a bit today. We’ll take a dive into Google Analytics goals and events auditing and take some notes from Jeff Sauer of Jeffalytics on conversion optimization as well. Let’s get to it!
Auditing Events in Google Analytics
We’ve already defined what events are in the past blogs, so hop back a blog or two if you’d like a bit more detail. At a high-level, events measure actions on the website taken by users that don’t directly affect return-on-investment. For example, understanding how long a user viewed a particular video is insightful as to how well the video resonates with viewers as opposed how much that viewer’s lifetime value (LTV) might be for your company. In that case, I’d make video views an event rather than a goal. Regardless of its focus on specific actions rather than monetary value, it’s still incredibly important to measure important actions on pages to deem if the website is fine-tuned to perform at its best. So as small business owners start to take a deeper dive into their analytics account, events aren't a bad place to start.
According to Pike (and I’d have to truly agree), when auditing a Google Analytics account, it’s important to answer a few basic questions from the jump.
1. Are there already events in the account, and what were they trying to measure?
2. Of the events we already have, should we keep them?
3. Do we have too many events right now and are there any duplicates?
One big difference between goals and events in a Google Analytics account is the number of each allowed in the account. Each basic Google Analytics account is allocated 20 goals to measure while the sky's the limit with events. In fact, Pike referenced one of his clients who had over 1800 event categories, which essentially defeats the purpose of measuring events in the first place. Too much data isn’t always good data. Event categories serve as the “large bucket” of events and doesn’t allow the SEO specialist to really understand the data. Personally, I typically max out event categories at 10 per account and leave the event action and event label to gain deeper insights.
The other two-part question is, “Do we have events and do we keep them?” Fret not, if your previous agency or in-house specialist didn’t set up events, there could still be goals in your account that better explain what actions your users are taking. However, it’s still not a great sign to see that there are none. At the very least, Pike recommends that you track outbound link clicks (to see when individuals are leaving your site) and file downloads (to better understand what content is engaged with the most). I would also add scroll depth to that list as well, as I've found that it’s a useful metric when optimizing landing pages and placing call-to-actions.
Auditing Goals in Google Analytics
The question of keeping events or not is truly based upon your interpretation of what’s most important to your unique business. Do 70 percent of people that view your YouTube videos request a demo after? Might be good to track that. Are you tracking when 25-34 year old men click on a link to buy your all-new denture product? Perhaps you should just delete that one.
You only have 20 goals to track, so be smart about what important metrics you’d like to track here. When auditing your Analytics account, a smart thing to check first is what goals have been created in your account and think about what goals you want to ensure are added. Remember goals speak more to revenue generation and can have a certain value associated with them when completed. For example, if you offer five software products at a fixed price, you can create five different goals for each software download. Each software download goal can have it’s own value associated with it, allowing you to evaluate the page value metrics for numerous landing pages across your site and how it relates to specific goals.
Learn from my mistakes. On a previous Google Analytics account I worked with, I thought that since the product was primarily bought by individuals in the 55-64 age range that it would be a smart idea to create a goal measuring specifically when individuals of that age range requested a demo of that product. I was wrong. I was so wrong in fact, that we realized the primary buyer was aged 35-44. While it’s nice to know that 55-64 year-olds were not requesting demos of the product as much as perceived, I shouldn’t have wasted a goal on it in the first place. Remember goals can be deleted, but the information you lost will be an opportunity cost. It’s important to continuously review if the goals you have in your account are providing beneficial information in the long run and quickly pivoting to optimize your conversions for better information.
According to Jeff Sauer, when evaluating how to improve your conversion rate and overall number of conversions, an excellent place to start is your acquisition tab under traffic and channels to find the channel grouping report. Here you’ll get a quick view of the sources of your site (organic search, direct, referral, social, paid search, and display among others if you’ve set up customer channel groupings), how many users come from those sources and which of those users converted. In the channel grouping report, you can quickly find what traffic has been of the highest quality based upon the number of conversions or revenue generated from eCommerce conversions. Remember that when you create a goal or enable eCommerce in your Google Analytics account, you can assign value to certain conversions and better track page value, goal value and, indirectly, channel value.
Another way to use the channel grouping report is to see what’s not working and better optimize based on those observations. Let’s take a look at an example from the Google Merchandise store below.
This data looks at the Google Merchandise store from April 1 – April 26, and allows us to see both what’s working for them versus what could use some improvement. Per usual, it seems the organic traffic from Google is their number one source of revenue and transactions for individuals buying merchandise from the store. Going forward, I’m sure they’re going to work with their SEO experts to continue optimizing for search engines and organic traffic. One channel to note here is the affiliate traffic. Despite bringing 1300+ users to the site, none of them have actually bought anything all month. As it relates to contract negotiations with third-party partners, better understanding how the traffic they refer to the site actually performs is paramount. Are the users actually engaged or is it wasted traffic? In this case, for at least this month, it appears that the partner traffic hasn’t truly returned a solid ROI. While this would take some deeper searching from a month to month basis, it allows the Analytics user to understand what might not be working and quickly pivot for strategies that will bring more conversions.
Segmentation for Conversions
One key functionality of Google Analytics that I believe is both underrated and underused is segmentation.
Segments, located on the top of your Analytics page allow you to segment traffic based on certain criteria. Google Analytics comes programmed with a number of segments already defined such as converters, organic traffic, single session users and more. You can easily compare user traffic based on their actions, such as mobile traffic vs. tablet traffic if you’re a gaming website or organic vs. paid traffic if you’re investing a lot of money this year in cpc. Another amazing option that segments offer are custom segments, which allow you to build your own segments based upon criteria you’ve laid out. For example, if I work with companies that offer multiple product categories, I always build segments that filter pages based on those categories. That way I can compare engagement within certain product categories against one another and see which segments outperform one another from a conversion standpoint.
What conversions do you have in your Google Analytics account? How many events is too many in your opinion? I’m always game to hear how you’re setting up your Analytics account for success. Next week we’re going to dive deeper into the world of Google Analytics with more ways to optimize your account. Thanks for reading and I look forward to sharing more insights next week!
This post was created in an effort to complete my CXL Institute Mindegree Scholarship obligation and speak to the materials reviewed in the course. This week’s post was aided by the expertise of Fred Pike of Northwoods Digital Solutions and Jeff Sauer of Jeffalytics. The information is a combination of my previous knowledge and excellent insights from a phenomenal program and instructors.