(As published in the Sunday Star Times, May 24,2015)

Last week we covered how you can use Google Analytics to track positive stuff happening on your website, including sales leads, online purchases and newsletter subscriptions. We did this by configuring the “Goals” section of your Google Analytics account.

Now that you have goals in place and are tracking the right things, you can use the numbers to measure and monitor how well your website performs, based on the traffic it receives.

For instance, you may now see that just five percent of your visitors take up your option of requesting a quote. Or that a measly two percent actually whip out their credit card to buy from your online store. Not great.

How can you improve these numbers and the success of your website? Uncover all you can about those who DIDN’T make a purchase or become a lead (ie those who didn’t get in touch for more information). Use your Google Analytics account to learn who they were and what pages they clicked – doing this will hopefully help you figure out what it was that stopped them from becoming a customer.

In the “real world”, this bit of the process is a bit like having someone standing outside your bricks and mortar shop and asking those that leave empty-handed a few questions.

Google Analytics can tell you some good stuff about your website visitors, including:

 

 

Learning these things about visitors who fail to become customers will give you helpful insights you can use to tweak your website. Depending on your results, your actions to improve may include: fast-tracking your mobile website project knowing that people arriving from a mobile phone are twice as likely to convert compared to those using a desktop computer; reevaluating your spend of a specific marketing channel because so few visitors from this group end up as buying customers; or making your newsletter subscription option on your website even more prominent because you can see what a good job it does “warming” subscribers up who then go onto request a quote.

The more you know about the “who” behind those who don’t convert, the easier it can be to understand why your results may be struggling. Use your Google Analytics reports to do some detective work on your non-converters and see what valuable – and profit changing – information you can uncover.

Next week I’ll cover how Google Analytics can show you the paths these non-converters took around your website before they left without buying – very helpful indeed.

 

Chris Price owns Ark Advance, a web optimisation business that specialises in online marketing. www.arkadvance.com

 

 

 

 

(As published in the Sunday Star Times, June 07,2015)

I believe that websites can be optimised to act like vibrant salespeople rather than boring one-dimensional brochures. But, like the best salespeople, they need to be measured, monitored and have their performance and progress tuned in order to work at their full potential. Google Analytics is the ideal tool for this job – even better, it’s free. You just need to learn how to drive it.

Last week I explained how to use Google Analytics to uncover as much information as you can about those who visit your site but fail to convert into anything exciting, like revenue or leads. Information like where they were physically located, their gender and age, and what part of the Internet they were at before they clicked on your site. I likened this to someone standing outside your shop with a clipboard, questioning shoppers for similar information.

This week I’m on the quest for more answers to help you uncover the real reasons why so few of your website visitors do what you want them to. This time we want to find out why they left your website, empty-handed or without leaving their details for more information.

In a bricks and mortar store, you could get some insight into customer behaviour by surreptitiously following someone around your store, recording where they walk, what they look at and for how long. Doing this may alert you to why some customers leave without buying anything.

You can do this for your website, too, by checking out what order visitors browse your web pages.

There’s a great report inside your Google Analytics account called “Behaviour Flow”, which you’ll find in the “Behaviour” section. This is a cool graphical view of what pages people see and the order in which they see them.

The 80/20 principle applies neatly here: 20 percent of your pages will capture 80 percent of your visitors’ attention.  The Behaviour Flow report will tell you which pages are in the small but powerful 20 percent group – you’ll find the home page generally falls into this category. Since these pages are so popular and make so much impact, you want to make sure they are working as hard as they should be. You only get a few pages to make a first impression, as such – this report will show you which of your pages are failing on the good impression front.

Now, you would expect (or hope) to see people moving seamlessly through your website, from page to page, before they eventually convert into a customer or lead. But if that’s not happening, you need to figure out which is the problem page. Looking at your report, which of those powerful 20 percent pages do visitors most commonly exit from? What’s the last page they view before they disappear off your site? If you can see a pattern here, you need to tweak or rework that page in order to stop losing potential customers.

It’s a bit like discovering the sales assistant in your popular jewellery area of your store is putting customers off – once you’ve found they’re a problem, you need to performance manage them.

For example, do visitors check out your home page then your “Services” page but disappear after looking at your “About us” page? You need to do some work here. Look at reworking your copy, design or images on the page – is it something you’ve said, or not said? Does it read badly or not have enough information and credentials to convince people that you’re the best? Get the help of a copy-writer if you need it.

You also need to ensure you make the next logical step for the visitor more obvious – where are they meant to go from here? If you want them to head to your “Book an appointment” or “Sign up to our newsletter” page, make it clear. Website visitors respond very well to clear direction.

Chris owns Ark Advance, which specializes in online marketing and website optimisation, helping businesses sell more online. See www.arkadvance.com

 

 

 

(As published in the Sunday Star Times, June 14,2015)

Google Analytics can tell you some really helpful stuff, including where your web visitors were before they clicked onto your site. Liken this in the physical world to someone standing in front of your store and asking people why they chose to visit your shop. Some may tell you they were already customers who read your recent newsletter, others may have noticed your ad in the newspaper and a few may have decided to visit after noticing your post on Facebook.

Why is this good to know? It can help you discern which of your marketing and advertising brings you website traffic and which of those avenues is the best at providing a reliable stream of high-converting leads. (Not all marketing is equal – you might do something that drives hoards of people to your website, but not one person buys something or becomes a sales lead. This may show your marketing choice is attracting the wrong audience for your product or service.)

There are five main streams of traffic that Google Analytics focuses on:

1. Direct traffic

These people know your website address and have typed it into their web browser. Regular customers will do this, but so will those who see your web address in a printed ad, hear your ad on radio or see your domain name on TV.

2. Referral/Social traffic

These visitors were browsing another website and followed a link to yours – it may be from a news story about you, a comment in someone’s blog or directory websites. Your social traffic comes under this category too, such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Facebook traffic is further broken down into desktop and mobile sites, so you can tell if they’re viewing your site from a phone, tablet or computer.

3. Search Engine Traffic

These are the visitors that came from a Google search – those who click on organic results, not your paid Google ads. GA will show you how much traffic came from this area and how it performed but it won’t tell you the actual keywords they used to find you ie what they typed into the search engine. (If you buy advertising with Google you can access this keyword data.)

4. Email newsletter traffic

This is where a few people trip up. Let’s say you spend the afternoon crafting and sending a cool customer email newsletter filled with links back to content on your website. If those links are set up to be exactly like they are on your website, this traffic comes under your Direct Traffic category. Not so good. Not only does it warp your idea of how many people know your URL or website address, it also thwarts you from being able to tell how effective your newsletter was on delivering highly engaged visitors to your site. To avoid this, you need to configure your email tool to add in some extra bits to each link to allow GA to place these visitors in their own newsletter “campaign”. This will give you an accurate picture.

5. Paid advertising traffic

Your GA account will treat your Google AdWords advertising in a very special way (of course, considering they’re both Google entities). GA places all the data that relates to it in its own AdWords category. Here you can drill down into the exact keywords that were clicked (so you can see which are working) and the outcomes they delivered (ie did they deliver profitable leads).

Look at your different traffic types and you can make business decisions like:

 – Noticing with glee that your direct traffic gets a sizable bump when your ad plays on radio – and that this traffic also delivers a bump in conversions.

– Reaching out to a website owner who is sending you great traffic via referral traffic, to see how you can advertise on their site to entice more visitors.

 – Realising that only 20% of your Google Adwords keywords are converting so deciding to pause the other 80% and switching your budget to those that are working.

This week, dig into your different traffic types and see how they perform on your website. You’ll find all this in the “Acquisition” part of your account.
Chris Price owns Ark Advance, a web optimisation business that specialises in online marketing. www.arkadvance.com

(As published in the Sunday Star Times, June 21,2015)

From the response I have been receiving to these articles, it seems that a growing number of business owners would love a website that did its job well and delivered a steady stream of high quality leads. Unfortunately, what’s more common is that business owners spend time building a new website and then tear out their hair wondering why it’s not made a jot of difference to their business. Alas, with websites, it’s not a simple case of build it and they will come but Google Analytics (GA) does a good job in helping you understand what areas you can improve or tweak your site in order to improve its performance.

Time is a good metric to keep an eye on. It needs to be optimised in two ways: firstly, by increasing the amount of time your visitors spend on your website and, secondly, by reducing the days between their – hopefully – multiple visits. It’s a bit like making sure those in your bricks-and-mortar shop keep walking around and browsing instead of dashing for the door. In the real world, you’d perhaps achieve this by adding nice couches for their partners to sit while they wait or installing an in-store cafe to keep them there and highly caffeinated.

To tune the time spent on your website, there are a number of strategies you can employ:

Content renovation.

Number one on your list should be improving your content. Last week we talked about how to use GA to find the 20 percent of your website pages that are shown to 80 percent of your visitors. Start with that 20 percent when upgrading your content – you want to make sure the pages that most of your visitors see are at their most captivating. Be aware that your content may need more of a renovation than a cosmetic makeover: think beyond tweaking words and look at your images, design and overall content.

If one of your pages is word-heavy and hard to digest (read: daunting and boring), consider using a well-designed infographic or an embedded video to share that content instead.

Email marketing.

Enticed your visitors to sign up for your newsletter? High five! Your ability to get their attention has just sky-rocketed. Now they no longer have to return to your site to see what’s changed and you have a direct line of contact. Deliver a value-packed newsletter and each edition will move them closer forward to becoming a customer.

Use remarketing to bring them back.

This is a nifty type of advertising that helps reduce the time gap between visits. Remarketing is a Google product that allows you to show banner-style advertising on sites other than your own. The brilliant thing is that your advertising is only shown to those who visited your website. You can set these ads to reach visitors who didn’t convert (ie buy), encouraging them to come back and have another look at your site, as well as those who have purchased from you before, reminding them to come back and purchase again.

So there you have it – three good ways to improve your GA time metric.

Speaking of time, there’s another time issue we should mention: pages that take an age to load.

Don’t expect your visitors to wait too long for that next page to appear. The faster your pages load, the more likely your visitors are to stick around. Look at the “Behavior” part of your Google Analytics account to see the current selection of “Site Speed” reports available. Not only does GA tell you which pages have the most room for improvement, it also tells you what to suggest to your web developer to get the problem solved. How thoughtful is that?!

 
Chris Price owns Ark Advance, a web optimisation business that specialises in online marketing. Ark Advance also offer a free monthly email newsletter focused on helping business owners grow their services online – sign up for free at www.arkadvance.com.