Whether you’re a small business or a digital marketer, a crucial aspect of succeeding with online marketing is to have the performance data to be able to make the right marketing decisions. Google Analytics is a free tool that advertisers can use to see how people interact with their website and also to get an idea of how their advertising campaigns are performing.
In 2012, Google Analytics was installed on more than 10 million websites in 2012, and in 2020, we would expect the number to be much higher. While Google Analytics is very powerful, many digital marketers will mainly only use it to report on the traffic levels and goals.
In this blog, I will talk about five reports within Google Analytics that digital marketers can use to get more insights and improve the performance of their website as well as their digital marketing campaigns.
1 – Source/Medium report
2 – Referral report
3 – Landing pages report
4 – Assisted Conversions report
5 – Time Lag report
1. Source/medium report
Starting with one of the more straightforward reports within Google Analytics, the Source/Medium report is a compelling report that shows the performance of each of your digital marketing channels in one easy to understand table. You can compare data like the number of sessions, bounce rate, pages per session, conversion rate, number of transactions, and revenue for each digital marketing channel.
Default metrics: Source/Medium, Users, New Users Sessions, Bounce Rate, Pages/Session, Avg. Session Duration, E-commerce Conversion Rate, Transactions and Revenue
Where to find the report: Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium
Tip – when creating campaigns on sites that are not included within the Source/Medium report by default, make sure you add your own UTM tracking to your URLs. Google Analytics can read the UTM tracking code and will be able to add an extra field with the relevant data.
For example, if you want to track the performance of your paid Facebook campaign within Google Analytics, then you just need to fill in the ‘utm_source,’ ‘utm_medium,’ and ‘utm_campaign’ sections within your URL. There are more parameters that you can track, but this should do as a basic example. Here is an example of what your URL would look like based on your UTM tracking parameters:
|Landing page||Parameters||Landing page with UTM parameters|
|example.com||Source: Facebook Medium: CPC Campaign: summer sale||example.com?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=summer_sale|
You can use this to track the performance of both paid and organic social campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to name a few. You can also add in UTM tracking when giving out a referral link to one of your affiliate marketers. This will allow you to track the quality of the traffic that the affiliate marketer is bringing into your website separately from other campaigns.
Example uses of the report
Here are three ways that you can use the Source/Medium report, but there are many more:
1. Get a top-level view of the performance of each marketing channel
Sometimes you just need to get a top-level understanding of how a particular marketing channel is performing. You don’t have time to look at the marketing channel in any great detail and just need the top-level numbers. The Source/Medium report allows you to do that.
2. Decide on which channel to invest more of your budget in
Having a table with the top-level performance of each of your marketing channels in one area can be very useful when deciding on the contribution of each channel and where to invest your next year’s budget. Have a look at metrics like goal completions and your conversion rate. If you find that a channel performs much better than expected, then you may decide to invest more of our budget into that channel going forward.
3. Spot poor performing channels
Looking at each marketing channel alongside each other really helps to spot areas where one marketing channel may be underperforming. The Source/Medium report contains bounce rate, e-Commerce conversion rate, pages per session, and average session duration. You can use this information to look at whether a channel is performing as well as it should be. When you can see the performance of all your channels together, it is easier to see if any channels have metrics that are lagging behind. For example, if a channel has a much higher bounce rate and a lower conversion rate than the other channels, then you can investigate why that could be.
2. Referrals report
The referrals report shows you which sites ‘referred’ users to your site when the user clicked a link on the referring site to come to your site.
Default metrics: Users, New Users, Sessions, Bounce Rate, Pages/Session, Avg. Session Duration, Goal conversion rate, Goal completions, Goal value
Where to find the report: Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals
Example uses of the report
Here are three ways that you can use the referral report, but there are many more:
1. Look at what kind of content performs the best
With the Referral report, you can look at what type of links perform the best for your business. Seeing as though you get the domain name of the referring traffic, you can go through the data identifying which referrals are from social media, guest posts, PR content as well as affiliate links. You can then look at which content type produces the most goal completions for your business. Once you have this data, you can start to decide on what type of content you should focus more of your efforts on.
2. Spot bot traffic
You can use the Referral report to spot bot traffic. Bot traffic is traffic that does not come from an actual person. This traffic is useless to you, as it is not going to convert on your website. Worse than this, it is needlessly ramping up your traffic numbers and also skewing ruining your Google Analytics stats such as your bounce rate and average session duration data.
Tip: To spot a spam referral, look for referrals with a 100% bounce rate and zero seconds spent on your site. To see how long the referral traffic spends on your site, add in session duration as a secondary dimension. Another red flag to look out for is a referral that isn’t an actual website name.
Google Analytics allows users to add a filter for specific traffic that they don’t want to look at. To do this, click on Admin on the bottom left of Google Analytics. Then under the ‘View’ menu, click on ‘Filters.’ Here you can add a new filter that will stop certain traffic from appearing in your Google Analytics account. The traffic can still land on your website, but it won’t get tracked by Google Analytics.
3. See how well each social media platform performs compared to other referral traffic
The Google Analytics Network Referrals report is the best report to look at when comparing social media traffic performance. However, the Referrals report allows you to compare the performance of your social media advertising with that of other referral websites.
For example, you can compare the quality of your Twitter traffic with the quality of traffic from a recent blog post that you recently wrote. Maintaining both a Twitter account and contributing posts on other people’s sites to keep traffic flowing to your site require a good chunk of your time. You may find that Twitter brings in more traffic, but the quality of traffic from blogging brings in better quality traffic. Therefore, looking at the Referral report can help you to put your digital marketing time to best use by focusing on areas that increase your goals the most and not just increase your traffic.
3. Landing pages
The landing pages report shows the pages through which your website visitors landed on your site. It also shows you the aggregated performance of each page on your site.
Default metrics: Sessions, % New Sessions, New Users, Bounce Rate, Pages/Session, Avg. Session Duration, Transactions, Revenue, and E-commerce Conversion Rate
Where to find the report: Behaviour > Site Content > Landing Pages
Tip: To make the data easier to manage and look at, you can stop Google Analytics from showing pages that are irrelevant for this analysis. For example, you may want to add a filter that blocks out all pages that are part of your blog. Assuming ‘blog’ is mentioned in the URL for all of your blog content, you can create a filter that excludes all results where the landing page URL contains the word ‘blog’. This will reduce the amount fresuts that you see on the page and make your data easier to analyse.
Example uses of the report
Here are two ways that you can use the Landin Page report, but there are many more:
1. Identify the best performing landing pages
If you can determine which landing pages perform the best, you can take a look at them and try to find similarities that explain why they are performing the best. Perhaps they all have a similar format or a similar type of messaging which is making them perform so well. Once you have this information, you can look at implementing those things into your other, poorer performing pages To determine which landing pages are performing the best, a good place to start is to look at the conversion rate of each page. Group the pages with the highest conversion rate together try to find similarities between them.
2. Identify and fix the poorest performing landing pages
Similar to finding the best-performing pages, it can be useful to perform the same exercise with your poorest performing pages. Group the landing pages with the poorest conversion rate and then try to see if there are any similarities between that would explain why they are performing so poorly. Once you think that you have identified the reason for the poor performance, try testing removing the element that is causing the poor performance from all the poor performing pages.
4. Assisted Conversions report
By default, all of the reports within Google Analytics use a last non-direct click attribution model. This means that if multiple clicks occurred before a conversion or goal completion, then Google Analytics will give all of the credit to the last click that did not come from a direct click.
The assisted conversions report can be very useful to see how well each channel is performing. It shows the number of last click sales or goal completions that each channel obtained. It also shows the number of sales or goal completions that each channel assisted in but where it wasn’t the last click.
Default metrics: MCF Channel Grouping, Assisted Conversions, Assisted Conversion Value Last Click or Direct Conversions, Last Click or Direct Conversion Value and Assisted/Last Click or Direct Conversions
Where to find the report: Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions
Example uses of the report
Here are two ways that you can use the Assisted Conversions report, but there are many more:
1. Get a fuller understanding of the value of each channel
The Assisted Conversions report shows the number of assisted and last click conversions. This means you can get a fuller understanding of the value of each channel. For instance, you may find that a certain channel doesn’t appear to be profitable in your other reports. But then when you total up the number of assisted conversions, you find out that the channel is profitable. Similarly, when you check the assisted conversions report, you may find that the poor performing channel isn’t getting many assisted conversions. This means that this particular channel is actually performing quite poorly, and you can then look at either rectifying the issue or investing less money and time into it.
2. Identify upper funnel and lower funnel channels
It can be useful to get an understanding of which channel is an upper funnel channel and which one is a lower-funnel channel. You can determine this with the Assisted/Last Click or Direct Conversions column within the Assisted conversions report. The Assisted/Last Click or Direct Conversions column shows the ratio of last-click conversions to assisted conversions.
To put it simply, if the Assisted/Last Click or Direct Conversions column is showing a figure of less than one, then the channel gets more last click conversions than assisted conversions. This means that the channel is used more to close a sale or goal. If the Assisted/Last Click or Direct Conversions column is showing a figure of more than one, then the channel gets more assisted conversions than last-click conversions. This means that the channel is better at generating interest, which then leads to a conversion on a different channel.
5. Time Lag report
Working out the right amount of value to assign to a digital marketing campaign has become a lot more sophisticated. Many experts, as well as Google themselves, have spoken about not using the last-click attribution model anymore as it gives all the credit to the last click before a sale or conversion action occurred. Similarly, when looking at attributing the right amount of credit to a campaign, it is important to look at the number of days before a conversion is to be expected within your niche.
The Time Lag report shows the number of days it took before a conversion action happened. It shows the number of conversions and conversions value that was received each day after an interaction last happened on your website.
Default metrics: Time Lag in Days, Conversions, Conversion Value, Percentage of Total
Where to find the report: Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Time Lag
Example uses of the report
Here are three ways that you can use the Time Lag report, but there are many more:
1. Determine when to expect to see the full value of an advertising campaign
All digital marketers will need to report on the performance of any marketing campaign that they run. Whether you’re running a PPC campaign, a PR campaign, a competition, or you put out a message on Facebook; you will need to look at how well the campaign performed. To be able to do this accurately, you need to know how nay days it usually takes for the majority of your conversions to come in. This is because if most of your conversions come in after the third day, then you know that any conversions that you report before the third day will be less than you should expect. Once you know how many days it takes for the majority of your conversions to come through, you know when to update your reports with the performance of your campaign
2. Project the performance of your campaign
While it’s good to wait until the majority of your conversions have come through, if you need to report on conversions before the majority of your conversions have come through, then you can use this report to project the outcome. To do this, you can use the below formula
Total conversions = Conversions received so far / percentage of total conversions received
For example, if we know that by the first day, we typically receive 75% of our total conversions, then after the first day, we know to expect 25% more conversions to come through compared to what is being reported. The above formula will allow you to give a projected total conversions number before all your conversions have come through.
3. See how many days it takes for each conversion action to happen
The Time Lag report allows you to choose which conversions to include in your Time Lag report. Some conversions may take longer to come through than others. For example, an e-commerce transaction is likely to take a different number of days to occur than a newsletter signup. If you’re specifically optimising for a particular type of conversion, then you’re going to be skewing your data by including other conversion actions.
You can select the conversion actions that the Time Lag report looks at by selecting the right conversion in the ‘Conversion’ drop-down menu:
I have discussed five reports within Google Analytics and given some examples of how digital marketers can use them. There is so much data about your website stored within Google Analytics. Digital marketers can use these various reports to improve their website performance and general marketing capabilities.