Google Analytics 101: Core reports to help you boost conversions
If you’re an ecommerce marketing manager who wants to improve conversions without having to trawl Google Analytics all day, then this post is for you.
I know it can be disheartening to be confronted with millions of metrics and not know where to start.
However, the good news is, you only need to focus on a handful of Google Analytics to answer questions such as:
- Do we need to improve our mobile site?
- Do we need to spend more on SEO?
- Where are we losing people?
- How well is our funnel performing?
- What small tweaks can we make to improve sales?
Here’s exactly what to click on and what to do with the data, once you’ve got it, to start getting answers and seeing results.
1. Audience reports: Who’s visiting and who’s buying?
These reports tell you everything you want to know about your visitors.
Demographics: You can use these detailed reports on age, gender, interests and location to make sure you’re optimising your site for the products they’re interested in.
Technology: Understanding what technology your visitors use to browse, may reveal opportunities to improve your mobile or desktop experience and lead to an increase in conversions.
Behaviour: You’ll be able to see how many of your audience are return visitors and how engaged they are. While studies show returning visitors are likely to spend more, it’s important to have a good balance between new and returning visitors.
Bounce rate: This is the proportion of your audience clicking away from a page without taking action. A bounce rate of 20-45% means something is wrong and should be one of the first things you work on fixing.
2. Acquisition: How did they get there?
Acquisition reports will tell you everything you want to know about exactly where your visitors are coming from.
Channels: When you know which channels are driving the most traffic; you can see what’s working well in your marketing strategy, and what isn't.
Source: This is a key area for understanding how well organic search is working for you; as an ecommerce business you’d expect to see 40-50% of traffic coming from organic search.
Social: You can learn everything about traffic from social networks, which can help you monitor your return on investment in terms of the time and money you spend nurturing your audience on each platform.
3. Behaviour: What did they do on your site?
These reports will tell you everything you want to know about your content and how people are engaging with your site.
Landing pages: Google defines landing pages as the top entry pages on your website; these will be some of the most important pages your visitors see. You want to make sure traffic is flowing well from these pages, with minimal exits.
Exit pages: As above, if there are pages where your audience tend to exit - you’ll know that these are sticking points and key areas to focus on to improve sales.
As I covered in a previous article on four things that can harm your conversion rate, it’s important to simplify the user journey where you can.
Events: Events track something a visitor does that isn’t counted as a conversion; for example, pushing a particular button or following an internal link. As these events often lead to someone buying from you, they’re useful to monitor so you can test and improve on them.
Site speed: This can make a big difference to conversions. You’ll want to aim for less than a 3 second load time to improve conversions.
4. Conversions: What’s working and what’s not?
According to ecommerce analytics specialists Littledata, the global average ecommerce conversion rate is between 1 and 3%.
If you want to benchmark your site against this, you’ll first need to set up goals within your Google Analytics.
A goal is exactly as it sounds - a business goal you’re trying to hit or improve. You could set up goals for sales and purchases (which we typically think of when we talk about conversions) but you could also set up a goal to measure newsletter sign-ups or product customisations.
So, what’s the difference between events and goals?
This article explains events and goals in detail but as we covered above, events are behaviours that you want to track.
For example, a visitor may push a call to action button on a landing page that helps them customise an order, which is a goal you’ve set, which then leads to them buying – earning you a conversion.
In other words, events and goals make up your marketing funnel.
By tracking them in GA, you can see how well that funnel is performing and where people get stuck, and you can find ideas you can test as part of your conversion rate optimisation strategy.
Another goldmine of testing ideas is your ecommerce revenue overview.
This is useful for identifying which products are the best sellers, how variants perform and where there’s room for improvement.
There’s no getting away from it – if you want to know what to fix, what to change or what to test on your site, you need to dive into your analytics.
While it’s worth growing your expertise, if you’re under pressure (particularly at key pinch points like Christmas) then, to start with, you can just focus on the reports above.
As Neil Patel puts it; “You just need to know how to find the right data points that will give you the best bang for your buck...the ‘low hanging fruit’ that are literally just sitting there, waiting for you to spot, fix and capitalize on them to rapidly bring in more new customers.”
Good luck! And if you get stuck, then I’d be happy to dive into your analytics with you as part of our free CRO audit service.