Learning to ask the right questions: Google Analytics for business
Google Analytics could very well be the best free tool on the Internet for your business. Interested in learning how to use it? The most important way to start is to learn how to ask the right questions. Instead of posing a technical question, such as ‘how can I find out the length of time visitors are staying on my site’, ask a business question, such as ‘is my website compelling visitors to become customers?’ It is by asking questions about how your website performs as a business tool that you can realise the real value of Google Analytics.
Begin your exploration of Google Analytics by making a list of the questions you would like answered about your business. The following questions could be a good place to start:
- Where are my customers located?
- Should I develop a mobile site?
- What is preventing visitors to my site from wanting to hit buy, sign-up for our newsletter, or submit a “contact us” form?
- What should I be writing about on my company blog?
- How are visitors finding my website?
- What online marketing is providing the greatest return?
Google Analytics can help you in answering all of the questions above, and once you have identified what questions are particularly relevant for your business, you can pursue a much more targeted approach to learning to use the service.
Be careful, however, when first voyaging into the world of Google Analytics that you do not misinterpret the information being provided. For example, the bounce rate of a website is often understood to mean the rate at which people that land on a website and then immediately leave. However, the bounce rate actually represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and leave without viewing other pages within the same site. If your home page provides all the information a visitor needs, it is likely that you will have a very high bounce rate and this may not be an entirely bad thing for your business.
Another example is the unique visitors metric. This is never going to be a true number of the unique visitors to your site and should be viewed as an estimate. The unique visitors metric is calculated by looking at the number of unique IP addresses that visit your site across a specified date range. As a result, visitors may be counted twice if they first view your website on their work computers and then with a different IP address on their personal mobile devices. Alternatively, unique visitors can be underestimated if a company has a single IP address but multiple people within that company visit your site. In addition, if you have set a date range of a week, a visitor who frequently visits the site from the same IP address will be counted once each week, meaning that the unique visitor metric does not represent the number of people landing on your site for the first time.
If you are excited about the possibilities Google Analytics presents but still don’t feel prepared to dive in just yet, take a look at the following resources:
Google Analytics: A Beginners Guide – A free ebook
The office Google Analytics YouTube channel – This channel provides tutorials on a large range of beginner to advanced topics