This is the first of a five part series designed to help you understand Google Analytics, improve your site, and enhance your digital strategy.

Here at Manning, we believe in creating results-driven digital experiences, and often times this means implementing a number of tools, software, and practices into our process so that we can uncover hidden behaviors about users and the applications or sites they’re interacting with. That’s why one of our favorite software tools is Google Analytics. Analytics is a service offered by Google that generates detailed data about your website’s traffic and provides you with an almost infinite amount of customized settings and tools for you to examine your traffic data.

With advanced tools and software like Google Analytics, measuring your website traffic and analyzing data can seem overwhelming and complex, especially as new versions of Analytics become available. However, as long as you know what you’re looking to reveal with analytics and stick to a scheduled process, creating reports will get easier with time and provide you with valuable return on your invested time. We believe that it’s also best to assemble a good team around you so that you not only collect the data, but also have help evaluating it and gaining insight.

Since the sky is the limit when it comes to using Google Analytics, we decided to create this series. In the last articles of the series, we’ll give you information about how to maximize your insights using Google Analytics, and provide you with downloadable materials for future reference. Don’t forget to check out the topics below, and stay tuned for more:

Audience

You can find Audience data useful to gain insight about guest demographics, how your website is accessed, and loyalty or engagement of your visitors. Within Google Analytics, there are a number of subdivisions under the Audience tab, which are explained below:

Demographics

Demographics is a new method of tracking recently implemented by Google Analytics. If you are targeting a certain demographic this would be the tool for you! It enables you to see information like the age and gender of your visitors.

Interests

Same as Demographics, Interests is a fairly new addition to Google Analytics and delivers information on preferences like “Sports,” “Computers & Electronics,” and “Travel,” or specific interests of people browsing your site. With this feature, you are able to determine if the service or a product that you are offering is targeting the interests of your audience.

Geo

Geo is one of the fundamental tools has always been associated with Google Analytics. As the name implies, it is responsible for reporting the geographical location and language of your visitors. The data reveals detailed information about a specific country, state or even city. This way, you can see whether your website is getting traffic from the areas that you are targeting, or optimized for the languages your audience speaks and reads.

Behavior

Behavior tells us how engaged visitors are with your website. You can get the data on “New vs. Returning” visitors, “Frequency & Recency” and “Engagement.” Let’s go a little deeper into the meaning of each of these metrics:

  • New vs Returning shows us a data comparison between amount of new and returning users.
  • Frequency & Recency shows us a data table comparing the number of new or returning visits, page views of visitors, bounce rates, visit duration, and more.
  • Engagement shows us a data table of the duration of the visit—0-10 seconds, 11-30 seconds, and so on—number of visits, and page views.

Technology

Technology is responsible for delivering data on the browser & operating system (OS) that your visitor is using, as well as information about their internet service provider (ISP)—such as Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, etc. This tool is crucial in determining if your visitors are getting the best, desired experience on various operating systems and browsers.

Mobile

Similar to the Technology part, Mobile shows us data about devices that your website was viewed on. We can determine if the visitor was using their personal computer (desktop), their phone (mobile), or tablet. You can drill down to see certain brands of devices—such as LG, Google, HTC—or you can even drill down and find out exactly which model the site was viewed on—like the Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S4, Amazon Kindle Fire, and others.

Since internet traffic on mobile devices has been steadily growing as more and more users migrate from desktop computers onto tablets and smartphones, we think that closely examining and analyzing your site’s mobile traffic is vital. If you see that your site is getting significant traffic—usually about 15% or more of visits—on mobile devices, you’ll need to make sure your site is optimized for this kind of traffic. If you need help on creating a mobile digital strategy, we’re always here to help!

Custom

Lastly, the Custom Variables report shows activity by custom segments you create yourself by modifying the Analytics tracking code. For example, you can track certain behaviors on forms or selections within pages on your site. This type of custom analysis is typically reserved for serious Google Analytics users and programmers.

BONUS: Checking out Visitors Flow

GoogleAnalytics_Visitors_Flow

This great tool acts as a roadmap for your site, outlining the path users take from the moment they step in the door. Visitors Flow is a graphical flow chart which demonstrates how the visitors are acting on your website, where they are dropping and how deep is their path throughout the pages. We usually find this useful when looking to see which areas of a site are experiencing high amounts of bounces (visitors exiting the site). You can even customize this tool in a variety of ways.

Conclusion of Audience

Now that you have learned the basics of the Google Analytics Audience section, we’re sure you are eager to see how your site has been performing, although keep in mind that this is only a brief description of what you can uncover under the Audience section without going deeper into advanced settings and reporting.

For our next post we’ll take a look at the Acquisition section, which provides you with data on the user Acquisition-Behavior-Conversion (ABC) cycle—or how you acquire users, their behavior after acquisition, and patterns behind conversions.

And finally, make sure to stay tuned for all this series has to offer on Google Analytics, including valuable insights and downloadable materials. Of course, if you need help analyzing any of your reports, please don’t hesitate to contact an Analytics professional at Manning.

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