5 key web analytics and what they mean for your digital marketing strategy

Your website is the hub of your online marketing activity. It’s critical that you measure the performance of your site using web analytics to determine the success of your marketing campaigns and make timely adjustments as needed. Use Google Analytics to monitor the following five key metrics to find out which of your digital marketing efforts are working for you and which ones need work.

  1. Visitors

    On the Audience Overview page are two visitor statistics: Visits is the number of times people have visited your site, and Unique Visitors is the number of individual IP addresses that have visited.

    What it means for your marketing strategy

    Your visitor statistics tell you whether or not your marketing efforts are driving traffic to your website.

    • Pay attention to trends in your web traffic over time. An increase in web traffic tells you your marketing is delivering viewers to your site, while a decrease in traffic indicates you need to try something new.
    • New versus returning visitors is also an important statistic. If only the same people are viewing your website, your marketing efforts aren’t driving new traffic. On the other hand, if no one is coming back to your site then your visitors probably aren’t finding what they’re looking for.
    • Ideally, you want more new visitors than returning ones, but a healthy proportion of both.
  2. Traffic Sources

    Your Traffic Sources Overview includes a pie chart detailing the percentage of visits which came from search traffic, referral traffic, direct traffic, and any online campaigns you are running.

    What it means for your marketing strategy

    Traffic sources let you know which of your marketing efforts are working to deliver website traffic.

    • Search traffic tells you how many of your visitors find you through organic or paid search.
    • A high rate of organic traffic means your site content has been well optimized and your site is appearing in search results.
    • A high rate of paid traffic indicates your PPC campaigns are working.
    • Click on each type of search traffic in the side menu to find out which keywords or ads are delivering traffic.
    • If most or all of your traffic comes from search, your other marketing efforts are underperforming.
    • A high rate of referral traffic means people are linking to your site from theirs, following you on social media, reading your blog posts, or otherwise discovering your content across the web.
    • This is good for your SEO, since Google weighs inbound links highly in its search algorithms.
    • Depending what referral sources are delivering traffic, you can find out which outside links are working for you.
    • Direct traffic indicates that people are aware of your site and brand, and your offline marketing efforts are delivering online visitors.
    • One trick is to use different website addresses for each offline campaign (ex: http://www.website.com/campaign) so you can easily determine where those visitors found out about your website.
    • If you are running digital marketing campaigns and have tagged your links using Google’s URL Builder, you’ll be able to track how much of your traffic comes from each campaign and what links sent traffic to your site.
  3. Bounce Rate

    The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who arrived on your site and left without visiting any other pages. Bounce rates for your entire site, individual pages, visitors, search terms, and more are found throughout your Analytics reports.

    What it means for your marketing strategy

    The bounce rate lets you know if your marketing tactics are delivering qualified traffic to your site.

    • As a general rule, the lower your bounce rate is, the better, but there are plenty of factors that can influence this metric.
    • For example, if your site is all or mostly on one page, such as in a blog, your bounce rate may be very high even if your visitors are engaging with your content (more on this next).
    • On the other hand, if your site has many pages of information and a high percentage of your visitors are bouncing, it’s a good indication they haven’t found what they came for.
    • Pay attention to trends in your bounce rate. If you make changes to your site, does your bounce rate increase or decrease? This tells you whether your changes were helpful to your visitors or not.
  4. Visit Duration

    The average visit duration is found on your Audience Overview page. You can find the average time on each page in your Pages section, and a breakdown of how many visitors spend how long on your site in the Engagement section.

    What it means for your marketing strategy

    Visit duration indicates whether your visitors are engaging with the content on your site.

    • The average duration for each page tells you which pages visitors spent time exploring and which ones had them clicking the “back” button.
    • As mentioned above, a page with a high bounce rate may still be performing well if it has a high average visit length.
    • Alternately, you may have a low bounce rate but if you have a short visit duration it’s unlikely people are taking the time to really view the pages on your site.
    • Measure trends over time and when you make changes to see whether your site content is working for you, and adjust underperforming pages to make the content more appealing to viewers.
  5. Landing & Exit Pages

    Landing and exit pages can be found under Site Content in the Content section of the side menu. Landing pages tells you which pages people are entering your site from, and exit pages are those from which visitors left your site.

    What it means for your marketing strategy

    Landing and exit pages let you know which pages on your website are doing their job.

    • Look at your landing pages to determine what content is driving visitors to your site. Are a lot of people arriving on an article you posted? Perhaps it’s doing well in search results or has been linked to on a popular blog.
    • Add Traffic Sources to this report as a secondary dimension to find out what pages deliver what kinds of traffic – search, referral, or direct.
    • As mentioned above, you can create unique landing pages for different offline campaigns to track their success.
    • Exit pages tell you what pages people finish their visit on.
    • If visitors exit after they’ve found the information they were looking for, such as a contact page, or after they’ve done what you want them to do, such as a checkout page, then that page has done its job.
    • If people are exiting from your homepage or partway through the purchase process that indicates a problem on that page.

These basic five analytics will give you an idea of the performance of your website and online marketing activities. By monitoring them consistently and making changes accordingly, you’ll be able to fine tune your digital marketing strategy to increase traffic, drive qualified leads, and increase the business results of your digital presence.

Have questions about web analytics or other metrics you want to discuss? Let us know in the comments.