Let’s rewind back to the year I graduated from college. At the time I had visions of myself and my marketing degree sitting at a desk in a corner office, sun streaming through the windows as I pitched exciting campaign ideas to a group of interns. Can you picture that? I’m thinking like a mix between Super Man and Heidi Klum.
In reality, things were distinctly less glamorous. I took a seat in some shared office space and was asked to analyze inbound traffic to campaign landing pages for behavior patterns. Sounds like a blast right? I know you think I’m being sarcastic, but it was actually completely amazing. Those 2 months were the most valuable of my entire career.
What Your Traffic Is Trying To Tell You
For me, my professional life changed the moment I realized that people were the driving force behind success, not numbers.
Once I figured that out and began taking those numbers and turning them into projects, tailor made for my audience I was ripped out of that dumpy shared office space, assigned to bigger, better (and more fun!) projects, and had my peers coming to me for advice.
Until you realize that there are real people with real lives and real things to do on the other end of all those numbers, analytics won’t really matter.
Until you realize that there are real people with real things to do on the other end of all those numbers, analytics won’t really matter.
— Olivia Derby (@OliviaRDerby) March 30, 2016
That being said, Google Analytics are awesome. They give you just about all the info you could ever need to kick your business into high gear. But don’t be fooled into thinking that a technical knowledge of the program is all you need. The real power in all that data comes from knowing what to do with it. How do you apply all those numbers to your site so that you can make some sales?
Assuming that you’re already religiously checking your page views, here are 3 metrics you should be watching just as closely, and what, exactly, you should be doing with them.
1. Bounce Rate
Your site’s bounce rate tells you some really valuable information about your own content and how valuable you are to your readers.
Technically speaking, a bounce rate lets you know what percentage of visitors leave your site from the same page they entered on.
By checking out the bounce rate for each page, you can tell which content inspires users to further investigate your site, and which just serves as a turn off for new visitors.
On the surface, this metric will tell you which types of content you should be producing more of. Low bounce rate means more enticing content, which means you’re doing something right.
When you consider the bounce rate of a page and the sources of your traffic, you start to see a different picture. Are visitors from pinterest bouncing while visitors from organic search go on to browse several pages deeper?
Compare the bounce rate on several pages with the sources driving traffic to those pages and you can begin to identify your pillar content. Learn to identify the top performing content for each channel and start to promote that content heavily.
Use the pages with the lowest bounce rate to populate a “featured content” section on your website. This will keep your most alluring content available to your readers and improve the likelihood that they will subscribe and return for more great media.
2. Call To Action CTR
If you’re serious about monetizing your site, you will, no doubt, have started adding Call To Action buttons in strategic locations. Your Call To Action CTRs (Click Through Rates) answer the question “How many users are actually clicking those buttons”.
Simple updates like changing the color of the button, the location on the page, and the “Call To Action” text can make a big impact on your CTR.
Take time to experiment with the buttons and providing incentive offers that attract users. Things like free downloads, complimentary e-courses, or no-cover webinars get people excited about leaving you their contact info.
Higher CTRs = more sales.
3. Mobile Vs. Desktop
How are your readers accessing your content? Google is placing more value than ever on mobile friendly sites, and readers are coming to expect perfect execution across devices.
If the analytics show a significant amount of your readers are coming to your content through cell phones or tablets, consider how your content shows up on these devices. The placement of your CTAs, mobile version of your navigation, and the overall formatting of your information will change on the smaller screen size.
Sites with a lot of mobile traffic should work to take advantage of this. Display the best performing CTAs at key points on the page like the very top and the very bottom. People intuitively scroll through a page, skimming over the content in the middle, and stopping at the bottom before committing to the time it takes to read the full article. Place your CTAs with “skimming” behavior in mind.
Now, Go Kick Some Butt with Google
Keep in mind that a “good” number for each of these metrics will vary wildly from site to site. A great bounce rate for one blogger maybe a terrible bounce rate for another business owner. Compare the metrics against pieces of content within your own site to get a scale that you can work with.
Add these metrics to your tracking routine and start to shape your traffic into a tribe that delivers consistent sales and engagement.