January 12, 2015

Google Analytics 101: What it Is, How to Use it, and Why it Matters

As a marketing professional, you’ve probably heard Google Analytics being discussed amongst peers in your office, at tradeshows or in webinars. But as busy as you are, you haven’t had the time to investigate the free service yourself. So while you have a vague idea of what Google Analytics offers, you don’t yet have enough knowledge to utilize it in a meaningful way. For those of you who find yourself in this situation, we’ve put together a few basic concepts that will help you get started:

What it Is

Put simply, Google Analytics generates detailed statistics about Web traffic that allow you to analyze the characteristics, behaviors and tendencies of visitors. You can use the service to gather critical information about prospects and customers visiting your social media accounts or website pages, or you can measure how your mobile applications are being used. That information, in turn, enables you to tailor content more specifically to your target audience, giving them more of the information they are seeking on the channels they are frequenting most.

How to Use it

After you set up your Google Analytics account, the key to getting started is inserting the code you receive from Google on every page you want to track. If you are unsure about how to do this, you may ask your internal IT team for assistance; if your IT team is swamped with other projects—as most are these days—you can look to a content strategy vendor, like us, for help. Content Boost, for example, is familiar with a wide variety of Web analytics tools including Google Analytics, so you can simply grant us access to your pages and we’ll take it from there. As soon as you add the necessary coding, you can begin to view various statistics from your account Dashboard and use that data to make decisions about content strategy.  

What it Tracks

Google Analytics can track a wide array of statistics, but if you are new to using the service it is probably best to focus on just a few to begin with and then expand your reach as time goes along. Below are some basic metrics that the vast majority of companies will need, including:

  • Page views: The total number of pages that visitors looked at on your site
  • Average Time on Site: Duration each visitor spent on your site
  • Conversion: When a visitor goes beyond casual viewing and takes measurable action
  • New Visits: The percentage of visitors who have not been to your site previously
  • Bounce Rate: The percentage of users who left your site after viewing just one page

Why it Matters

Tracking Web traffic with a service like Google Analytics allows you to get a centralized view of how your content is being consumed across all of your Web pages. But, although gathering this information is certainly critical, the numbers themselves don’t mean much alone. For example, if you are not customizing your analytics by segmenting subsets with filters, you might not be getting the demographics or behavior information—like how many users visited your website after viewing a specific social media post—that is most relevant to your individual organization.

A best of breed content strategy vendor can help you provide context for the metrics, allowing you to increase your spend on the channels that are drawing the most interest and improve crucial areas that are underperforming. In other words, Google Analytics can gather the numbers; a content strategy vendor helps you determine what those metrics mean, and what your next steps should be.

Need help with Google Analytics? Click here to see how we can help you!

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