Looking at data is an essential component of an effective digital marketing strategy. Data reduces confirmation bias and lets the numbers do the talking, rather than you. It also establishes a benchmark for measuring online performance, allowing you to see trends over time. Tracking this data is neither hard nor expensive and can be done in less than an hour, thanks in part to Google Analytics—a solution we recommend to all C-Suite Social Media clients.
Google Analytics is a completely free tool that is simple to install on any website. You can find it here https://analytics.google.com. Basically, it begins with a small snippet of code that gets installed on your website – a web developer or web designer can handle this task with a Gmail account. Once installed, Google Analytics will run in the background and capture data from your website using a Google Tracking ID, unique to you.
An exciting feature of Google Analytics is what they call Analytics Intelligence which gives you the ability to ask very specific questions (think Alexa) based on the metrics derived from Google Analytics:
- How many users did we have last week?
- Where is my traffic coming from?
- How many new users did we get last week on mobile?
In addition to Analytics Intelligence, Google also provides an entire analytics platform that lets you track your website performance and audience engagement. The metrics found within Google Analytics are useful to a firm—they can help uncover what’s working and what’s not. For example, are visitors bouncing off certain pages of your website? When do users visits your site? What days and times are most popular?
Metrics usually fall into two different categories: vanity metrics and engagement metrics, let’s review each type.
Vanity vs Engagement
Vanity metrics – likes, followers, shares, and retweets – focus more on size of the audience. These stats can be easily manipulated by bots or fake accounts. Vanity metrics can be seductive; it’s easy to become enamored with this type of data partially because it’s so readily available. While relevant at some basic level, vanity metrics all by themselves will trap you into believing your better than you really are. A firm can have an impressive number of followers with engagement metrics that #@*&.
Engagement metrics measure things like audience engagement and lead generation. Engagement metrics are at their best when the content on your website resonates with your visitors and keeps them engaged on your site. With a tool like Google Analytics, you’ll be able to view engagement easily and quickly with a standard set of reports nested in the platform:
- Audience Overview Report. Measures the Number of Users, Sessions, Bounce Rate, and Session Duration.
- Active Users Report. Indicates how your active users trending over time?
- Acquisition Report. How do you acquire users? Identifies the metrics associated with each traffic channel: Direct, Referral, Social, Organic, and Other.
- Social Value Report. Identifies the social networks and communities where people engage with your content.
Finally, choose your metrics wisely and make sure you’re looking at the total picture when it comes to your firm’s digital marketing efforts. Remember, you don’t need expensive, fancy, enterprise-level software to do it. With Google Analytics, the data is right at your fingertips.