Started your planning for 2017? Ideally, this would involve extracting yourself from the office – having some way to collect those gems of ideas, plenty of strong coffee to get the neurons working and a general feeling of hope and expectation. But is that enough?

Today I want you to add one more item to your planning toolbox – your Google Analytics Account. With this in mind here are my four steps to crafting a cunning website marketing plan for 2017.

#Step 1 – All Good Things Must Come To an End

Let’s start with the end in mind. What do you want to achieve in 2017 and what role will your website play in all this? If it’s a year of new customer growth, how many more accounts do you want your website to find for you? Or perhaps it’s more about generating more revenue from existing accounts – again, how will your web presence help you achieve this?

For instance, your growth goal could be to win 50 new customers. And for this you will need 150 website quote requests completed over the next 12 months. Or say 300 phone calls for people wanting service requests.

With this in mind, crack open your Google Analytics account and head into the Conversions area to see which, if any, of these are being tracked by your team. By default, Google Analytics ships without any Goals configured, so if nobody in your team added them expect to see zero data.

Last year I huffed and puffed my way around a number of trail run events – nearly always at the back of the pack. The slight comfort I had through all that pain was that my watch told me how far I had gone and, what’s more important, how much was left. Knowing you have just 4km to go when you are out of water and swearing under your breath at every incline makes a lot of difference.

So as Chaucer said in 1374, “All Good Things Must Come to an End”. In the modern world I think that End is a Conversion Goal set up in Google Analytics. Once it’s done you will be able to track how many calls your website generated next month compared to the one prior and if any quote requests were generated from your expensive advertising on Google.

#Step 2 – Love the Traffic That Works

Once you have the end points defined, you can then follow the spaghetti to see which stream of traffic delivers the most love (that is, the most calls or quote requests). You can see this in the report – Acquisition – All Traffic – Source / Medium. It’s one of my all time favourites.

Pick a reasonable date range and let all be revealed. Insights we have seen people gather from this report include:

  • Recognising how well their email marketing is returning prospects back to the website and convincing them to sign up as customers.
  • Questioning the value of a costly stream of advertising that delivers low quality traffic with little-to-no conversions.
  • High fiving themselves when they see how much money they make from the little they spend with another advertising source.

# Step 3 – Apply the Pareto principle to Web pages

Thankfully, we don’t need to pay attention to all the pages on our website – just those that really matter. To find the select few, head over to the report at Audience / Users Flow. This gives you a visual representation of the digital pathways people tread while on your website.

The first page they see is defined as the “Landing Page”. People who arrive here are important souls. However, if they don’t go any further into your website, things become a bit challenging. Fortunately, in my 32,000 hours of digital marketing experience (yes a few grey hairs) I have yet to see a landing page in which no traffic goes further – so next up, the report shows the top five pages that are fed from this page.

Jot down your top landing pages and top secondary pages – the list should be less than 10 – and you have now created the 20% of your website content that needs work in the months ahead.

# Step 4 – Automate the Party Celebrations

Finally, I want you to configure your Google Analytics account to tell you when it’s time to party. We all experience those weeks when it’s best to look back and, well ….. forget. Now let’s hop into the Custom Alerts part of your account to configure things so you know when it’s time to CELEBRATE.

What times are we talking about? When the conversion rate of your quote form doubles in a week, say. Or your website revenue grows by 25% from the previous month. Why wait until those boring reports hit your desk? Let Google Analytics immediately alert when it knows the good news. Just set up the criteria for a party and work hard on the prior three steps to make it all happen.

So there you go. Just a few short and simple steps to get you into the planning mindset. And if you would like a few grey hairs of digital marketing experience to join you in your planning space then why not make contact? Or if all this reference to Google Analytics makes your head hurt then think about our Google Analytics Group Training Program.