Harness the power of Google Analytics for your business

by Donal O Nuallain
11 Jul 2017
1 minutes to read

According to our latest dot ie Digital Health Index, only 7% of Irish SMEs currently have the ability to run analytics for their business’s online tools. Digital Analytics are tools that provide a set of measurements that help you understand your website or social media performance. Most analytics tools are free and allow you to better understand what impact your online efforts are having on your target audiences.

Why do I need to use Google Analytics?

As a business owner, it’s essential that you can see what visitors are doing on your website and how they interact with it. Not knowing what is happening on your website is like trying to drive a car while blindfolded.

You need to know if there is anything that could be preventing them from completing their tasks so you can fix it. The best way to make sure that you are delivering a customer-friendly and effective online experience is to monitor how people are using the website. Google Analytics is the most straightforward way to do this, and most importantly, it’s free.

It may seem daunting at first but Google Analytics is one of the most widely supported tools out there. Even at a top level, it can provide you with actionable insights to improve your website. Also because it is so widely supported and used the chances are if that you don’t understand something about it then somebody will have already asked the same question, so there are plenty of online guides and tutorials available.

What can Google Analytics do for my website?

Google Analytics can help you to:

Monitor the status of your website.

Identify problems when they arise.

Pinpoint areas for improvement.

Measure the effectiveness of your marketing activities

Make informed business decisions

Assess what content works best for your visitors

Identify how users find your website

As with any tool, there are specific tasks and terms that you need to know to make the most of its functionality.  Let’s take a look at some of the most common measurements and phrases that are used:

Users –how many people entered the website over a given time period

Pageviews – how many pages a user visited during their time on your website

Sessions –how many times there was a visit to the website over a given time period (there could be 10 visits by one individual)

Pages per session – the average number of pages visited on the website

Average time on page –how long did they spend on a given page of your website

Bounce Rate – the percentage of visitors who leave the website after viewing only one page

New vs. Returning visitors – this is the ratio of new visitors versus returning visitors to the website

Source – where does your website traffic come from?

This is just scratching the surface of Google Analytics. Vast amounts of information are available from the tool but knowing the basics is a great place to start. For other quick wins, you can also see where your visitors are located for example, in Ireland or other countries.  This is useful if you are trying to attract the overseas market or if you are running country-specific campaigns to drive traffic from those regions. You can also look at what devices (desktop, mobile or tablet) people are using to visit your site. You can even see what times of the day are the busiest for your website.

Setting goals on Google Analytics

A valuable function of Google Analytics is the ability to set up specific goals to evaluate the success of your website.  The first question to ask here is what is the aim of your website? If you are running an e-commerce website, then a clear goal is that visitors spend money on your site. If you are interested in lead generation, then the goal is to gather email addresses and contact details. If you are running a service, for example, an online laundry booking service, then the goal is that visitors fill out the relevant details and make a booking for your team to carry out the service. If you are running a content-based website then the goal would be that visitors look at a minimum number of pages and engage with the content.

Decide the goals that are relevant for your business and Google Analytics can track your progress.

You can use Google’s Benchmarking service to evaluate your website against competitors in your industry.  It won’t give you web metrics for individual companies, but it will give you comparisons with your industry sector.

Generating regular reports

You can customise and automate reports so that they arrive in your inbox once a week or month, whatever suits you best. You simply add in the email addresses of recipients and select the frequency and this will be generated automatically.

With this information to hand you will be able to offer the best user experience, signpost visitors into key areas of your website and ultimately increase your sales or enhance your online marketing efforts.

For more information take a look at a keynote talk from Ireland’s Internet Day 2016. Former Head of Digital Marketing at Microsoft, Allister Frost discusses how e-businesses are changing the way Irish consumers browse and buy and talks about the power of digital analytics.