Once you set up Google Analytics on your website, you will have access to an abundance of valuable information about your audience demographics.The Audience reports by Google Analytics give you an at-a-glance view of your website visitors. They tell you not only how many people come to your website, but also who they are, what their interests are, where they’re located, and whether they are first-time or returning visitors. This collective information will give you a complete overview of your website visitors and allow you to compare your analysis to the personas you established earlier in the project. Remember, you don’t want just any visitors to your website; you want the right visitors who represent your high value customers.
When analyzing audience reports in Google Analytics, most people don’t go past what’s called vanity metrics (default reports containing numbers of visits, pageviews, unique visitors, etc.). These metrics are easy to understand, but don’t provide feedback on your website’s performance. Here are some of the other common vanity KPIs:
- Pageviews – unlike a visit, which represents a single session of a visitor browsing your website, a pageview is recorded for every page visited. In other words, if someone visited your website and browsed five pages, it will show one visit and five pageviews. This metric is most useful when you are selling advertising and want to maximize ad impressions.
- New & Returning Visitors – differentiates the number of people who visit your website for the first time as opposed to being a returning visitor. A better way to look at these numbers is the ratio of new visitors to returning visitors or as a percentage of the total number of users. If your website’s business model relies on bringing visitors back to the site, the percentage of returning users will clearly show the website’s effectiveness in generating residual traffic to your website. If your goal is to retain visitors (like a subscription model), you want to see this number steadily increase.
One of the benefits of Google Analytics is that Google knows substantially more about your website visitors than other tools. Most Internet users have Google accounts, and when visitors browse your website, Google Analytics demographics reports can compile information about your users, such as their age or gender. This information is crucial to ensure you are bringing the appropriate traffic to your website. For example, if your company sells large manufacturing equipment, but for some reason, teenage girls make up a large share of your website’s traffic, you are not bringing the right visitors to your website. No matter how effective your website is, it will not convert because it was designed for a different demographic.
Are your website’s visitors actually interested in purchasing your products or services? Similar to demographic information, Interests reports allow you to answer important questions about your audience and ensure that your website visitors represent your high value customers. These reports provide you with a psychographic breakdown that can help to determine personalities, values, attitudes, interests and lifestyles of your website’s visitors. Affinity categories will show you that visitors in these segments are more likely to be interested in learning about the specified category of products or services. Similarly, in-market segments will give you a breakdown of users who are more likely to purchase products or services in the specified category. These reports are crucial to understanding your audience needs, wants and desires.
Geo reports give you data about the language and location of your website visitors. You can drill down, not only by country, but also by state and city. If you market products or services to local customers, this information is vital to your success. For example, if you are a retail chain in Chicago, you want to see that most of your traffic originates from the Chicago area. This website is unlikely to benefit from traffic from Karachi, Pakistan. Language preference is also very important, for example if you discover that a big portion of your website visitors have Spanish as their first language, and you cater to Spanish-speaking customers, it might be time to do a Spanish version of your website.
Behavior reports give you a more in-depth breakdown of new versus returning users, frequency and the recency of visits (number of pages per visit), as well as the correlation between time spent on the site and the number of pages visited.
Technology reports are probably more useful to your web developer. They show which browsers, Operating Systems (OS) and networks are used to access your websites. You and your web developer should focus on the Browsers report. You should test and review your website periodically in the most popular browsers you see in this report. You will then have the confidence that your website is working optimally for your diverse audience. For example, if you find that there are many people accessing your website using old browsers, check that your website works correctly in these older browser versions.
Similar to technology reports, Mobile reports will show the number of people who have been accessing your website with a desktop or laptop versus a tablet or mobile device. The breakdown by devices allows you to see which mobile devices are used most often. You should test your website on these mobile devices to ensure that it offers the optimal user experience.
The Visitors Flow report is a graphical representation of the paths navigated by visitors to arrive on your website. This overview provides deep insight into visitors’ interactions–which pages are touched and the location within your site where most drop-offs occur. More importantly, you can segment and filter this report by any other metric. Hungry from more? Then check out our other articles on the best Google Analytics metrics and reports, how to set up Google Analytics conversion tracking and Google Analytics acquisition and channel reports.