There are four main benefits of using Google Analytics:
- Instant measurement of the different digital marketing activities staying within a unified framework, with the possibility to see in real-time how many people filled in the contact form, which pages they visited and for how long, from which country they come, etc.
- Visual representation of the so-called “Marketing Funnel” in a process that starts from the acquisition of the user on the site, passes through its behaviour within it and ends with the conversion, or with an action that we consider significant, such as filling out a contact form, a click to call or viewing strategic pages.
- Ability to make strategic decisions based on scientific and accurate data analysis
- Analysis of how users browse the website to prepare corrective actions
How does Google Analytics work?
- Language of the user
- The browser type like Chrome, Safari, or other
- Browsing devices such as smartphones, computers, or tablet
- Operating systems like Windows or Mac
- Source of traffic, such as Organic/Paid Search, Referral.
Google Analytics receives in real-time updated data on the user activity at every page load. It organizes them in Reports to fully synchronize Google Analytics with what the user is doing on the site. User activity is collected over a period called Session, the minimum unit of measurement for Google Analytics.
The Navigation Session
Browsing sessions begin when the user lands on a web page, activates the tracking code, and end when the user leaves the website or after 30 minutes of inactivity. Whenever a user returns to the website after the end of a browsing session, whether it’s 5 minutes or several months, Google Analytics will count a new session.
As a result, the same user will be able to make various browsing sessions during a reference period. The number of sessions highlighted in the Analytics reports is practically always higher than the number of unique users browsing the website.
After seeing what the browsing sessions are, now let’s understand how to use Google Analytics from a commercial perspective. For this purpose, we need to know how it is structured.
The structure of Google Analytics
Google Analytics has a layered structure divided into Accounts, Properties, and Views. Each level has its settings and has specific characteristics:
- Account: each customer has an account, and at this level, the general settings, user management, and monitoring filters are set
- Property: websites or apps that belong to an account. At this level are established settings on monitoring, the link to other Google products such as Google Ads, Google Search Console, and so on, and settings on the audience segments, useful, for example, to do Remarketing activities.
- View: the access point to the Reports of each Property. The default view is “All website data,” which collects every data of the website being monitored. The conversion objectives and other configs relevant to the View are set at this level, e.g., monitoring filters.
Report: How to use Google Analytics
There are six different types of basic Reports in Google Analytics:
- Home page: general overview of website data. In the path to a perfect Data Visualization, the home of Google Analytics presents a collection of data extracted from individual Reports to allow the Web Analyst to have a quick overview of the website’s performance.
- Real-time: these Reports allow to monitor in real-time the behavior of users on the website, including information such as their origin or the source of traffic
- Audience: these Reports show information about the users of the website, such as age and gender, geographical origin, interests based on their browsing history, degree of involvement, whether they are new users or recurring users, navigation devices, whether from smartphone or computer
- Acquisition: These Reports show the channels through which users have reached the website. They are fundamental in an Inbound Marketing
- Behavior: these Reports show how users engage/interact with the website, such as the pages viewed, the navigation flow, and which are the main landing/exit pages
- Conversations: these Reports allow you to monitor all the set objectives, the acquisition source, and the conversion rate, that is, the % of users in the total that has done an action considered particularly significant, such as filling in the contact form or viewing strategic pages
To better understand what Google Analytics is and how it works, we can analyze two Case Studies.
CASE STUDY 1 – How to use Google Analytics to research potential markets
The location report by Google Analytics allows you to understand which countries visitors to your website come from (found at Public -> Geographic data -> Locations).
This report lists the countries from which users have navigated the site within a fixed time frame. The analysis is divided into the usual Marketing Funnel:
- Acquisition: how many users arrived on the site?
- Behavior: how do users navigate, and how long do they stay on the site?
- Conversions: what “significant” actions did users do?
Considering client A, we first noticed that the highest % of users come from Italy, precisely 32%, followed by the United States, China, and Germany. A first and superficial analysis would make us consider that China (the third country for traffic to the site) is a potentially interesting country.
Comparing other metrics, such as the average session duration, we realize that very short sessions have been generated from China and are of little importance. So, China, which at first seemed like an important country for client A, actually turns out to be of low interest because it is a country where the traffic to the site is numerous but of low quality and has a high bounce rate. Thus, comparing only the number of users uncritically would lead to a mistake in the ratings.
Different is the case of Turkey, the sixth country for traffic (3% of the users) to the site of client A, which has users who remain on the site more than the general average. So Turkey, which has a lower share of traffic than China, is an extremely important country because, multiplying the total number of sessions generated with the duration of the average session, we find that the time spent on the site of Turkish users is far greater than that of Chinese users.
Comparing different metrics, we realize that the power ratios could change a lot, leading to a more informed and in-depth analysis of what can be done by analyzing only one metric at a time. Therefore, it is essential to consider also behavioral data and the possible presence of conversions on the site to find a “formula” able to make us understand which are the most interesting markets for their business.
CASE STUDY 2 – How to use Google Analytics to analyze the interest
Acquisition reports related to paid campaigns (found at Acquisition -> Campaigns -> All campaigns) allow monitoring of active campaigns and real interest. From this report, it is possible to analyze which Campaigns have generated the most numbers of Sessions in descending order.
Considering client B with three active Google Ads Campaigns, first, it is possible to notice that the average duration session of the three campaigns is about a minute, with a fairly uniform distribution between the three campaigns of the average duration session. However, going to analyze the paid search terms that have been activated (found at Acquisition -> Campaigns -> Paid keywords), you can do another type of analysis that is more profiled and qualitative. For example, we note that some search terms activated and selected by client B are insignificant globally: they do little traffic and generate average sessions of a few seconds (compared to the average session duration of the three Campaigns, which is about a minute) and do not convert. So, keywords tend to target the real world; in reality, online are little searched or used for purposes that maybe are not part of the core business of our client B.
By analyzing the search terms of a given Campaign, you can immediately understand the real vertical interest of the users of the Campaign and define a “ranking” of the most appealing products/services by analyzing behavior data and any conversions of their related search terms.
To make an even more in-depth analysis, the Google Analytics report on the “Behavior Flow” would allow us to analyze more deeply the behavior of a user who entered the site with a specific search term from the first interaction he made at the exit point.
In this way, you could analyze the whole funnel with the most frequent touchpoints to understand the search terms that produce the most qualitative and most interesting sessions (characterized by the display of strategic pages/contact pages).
In conclusion: How to use Google Analytics for business development?
Analyzing the data in Google Analytics allows for making marketing and commercial data-driven decisions, not based on empirical observations but on data with accurate accuracy.
Although this free tool from Google is especially useful to marketers, it actually offers fundamental insights for every commercial development strategy.
For example, understanding which countries visitors to our website come from allows us to evaluate which countries to focus our efforts more on effectively; as well as knowing which is the most profitable Google Ads Campaign allows us to plan more consciously the budgets for advertising investments and to have “leads” of ever greater quality to be turned then to the Sales area.
Over the years, Google Analytics has evolved to offer users a clearer Data Visualization. For this reason, the gradual transition to Google Analytics 4 is taking place, which is a revolution for Web Analysts. Still, it always goes in the direction of allowing a more profound analysis experience.
Analyzing data with awareness is the first step to succeeding online and embarking on a successful business development strategy.
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