Base your digital marketing strategy on data, not guesswork
How Google Analytics can pay dividends for you. Read on - or watch this video instead.
No accountancy practice wants to throw away its marketing budget on activity that isn’t delivering results. Fortunately, Google Analytics means it’s easier than ever to make smart decisions about digital marketing based on hard facts, not hunches.
Analytics, launched in 2005, is a free tool that allows website owners to track traffic, how users interact with content and a whole slew of performance indicators.
To use it, you’ll need (a) a Google Analytics account; (b) a unique Google Analytics tracking code; and (c) a bit of behind-the-scenes setup to get it embedded on your website. Your website host should be able to help with this, and might even help you get your dashboard calibrated, as PracticeWeb does with its clients.
Making the very most of Analytics requires a relatively sophisticated understanding of its deeper settings but even out of the box it can provide information that could fundamentally change your digital marketing strategy.
I’m going to focus on three easy-to-read sections of the Google Analytics dashboard in this article, and what they can mean for your approach to marketing.
First, Audience, starting with the overview tab. This gives an instant readout on the number of visitors to your site; whether they’re the visitors you’re after; and whether they’re engaging with the content you provide.
How can you use this to refine your marketing strategy?
Well, if your traffic is lower than expected, that means you might want to focus on getting found in web searches via SEO or pay-per-click advertising, or boosting your social media activity.
Equally, if traffic numbers look good but the bounce rate is high (people aren’t going anywhere else on the site) and/or dwell time is low (say, less than a minute), your content is the problem. In other words, even if you’re being successful in luring people to the website, you’re failing to meet their needs when they arrive.
In that case, you either need to change your content to better meet the needs of your target customers, or think again about whether you’re targeting and reaching the right people. Conveniently, as they say, there’s an app for that.
Beyond the overview, the next most eye-opening sections are demographics and location. Knowing whether you’re getting enough traffic is important but it’s not just a volume game – you need to be sure you’re attracting the right types of clients.
If you’re hoping to appeal primarily to younger women in the North West of England but your visitors are mostly older men from the South East, it might be the nudge you need to think about rebranding, redesigning your website or reviewing your content strategy.
It might also suggest that you need to recentre your search engine marketing (SEM) strategy around local keywords to boost traffic from the right towns, cities and regions. Location data could also support knowing where to run targeted location-based social media ads, or indicate where to run offline events.
All of this really just scratches the surface of what Google Analytics can do. If you want to explore further, I’d advise you to make the Acquisition and Behaviour tabs your next stops.
The former can tell you which sources are sending traffic your way and, perhaps more importantly, which aren’t, so you can stop wasting time, money and effort on them.
The latter will give you insight into how people behave once they’re on your website. If, say, blog posts about VAT perform especially well in terms of visits, bounce rate and dwell time, write more of them. And if nobody is visiting your ‘contact us’ or service description pages, work on calls to action (CTAs) across the website, in marketing emails and so on.
In general, the benefit of acquiring and interrogating website data is a clearer sense of what good looks like – you want all the indicators to be improving with time, clearly – and where to focus your efforts.
And remember, optimising marketing performance takes time. Adopt a test-and-learn approach, one change at a time, and play the long game.
If you want to know how to get the most out of analytics and improve your marketing, why not get in touch.