3 critical business questions CEOs can answer using Google Analytics

We marketing geeks have a certain way of trolling an analytics account — but there’s an executive-level look, too — business owners who prefer to leave this in-the-weeds analytics stuff to their underlings are missing several things critical to the way they understand their business.

In this post, I’m going to talk about a few critical business questions which CEOs can and should answer for themselves, on an ongoing basis, through a shallow-dive look at Google Analytics.

Where is my most valuable traffic coming from?

When a website is your baby, traffic gets you excited. You know what I’m talking about. Somewhere nerdy within, you silently squeal with joy when your traffic numbers are riding high. Perhaps you’ve had a record day!

Well that’s great. But what if it means nothing for your business?

The thing is, web traffic is little more than bits and bytes clicking away in an electronic ant farm you’re hoping will pay your bills. They’re numbers. Why do we think they’re so important? Because they might convert into customers, and customers pay us, right? Precisely. And that’s why, if there’s just one analytics report business owners keep a pulse on, it must be the Traffic by Source report.

Engagement metrics

First, understand which sources are sending you visitors who actually give a sh*t about your site and what you’re up to. Pages/Visit and Avg. Time on Site measure whether a visitor even wound up on your site on purpose, and if they did, how long they’re willing to stick with you in the attention-sparse web landscape.

Personally, I tend to get particularly enthusiastic about new organic traffic. If you’re suddenly bringing in 150 new visitors every day as a result of your awesome blog post unveiling a new curried eggplant recipe, that’s super — unless their engagement metrics are a fraction of what you see from folks who found you through other channels. Right?

Conversion metrics

Pay attention to your conversion rates by traffic source. You might notice that 10% of your traffic accounts for 50% of conversions. All referrers, ad channels and social media outlets are not created equal.

New blood

Some sources of traffic will bring you fresh eyeballs and other sources will yield more returning visitors. Which does your business value more? If you’re an e-commerce site, does your average first-time shopping cart differ significantly from that of a returning customer’s?

Look carefully at the propensity of each traffic source to bring you new visitors. Once you have a returning customer, it’s likely you’re touching them through other marketing channels, but a brand new prospect — that’s gold.

How are people experiencing my site?

What proportion of your visitors see your site on their iPad? Their mobile device? Chrome or Internet Explorer (do people still use that browser)? Knowing the breakdown is part of understanding your customer base.

Maybe 30% of your users come to your site on a Mac, and your development team uses nothing but PCs. Sure, they might QA the site on a Mac, but this 30% slice of your prospect pool might not be getting the love they deserve. Maybe your homepage looks awful on the iPad, or your paid search landing pages don’t load the proper information above the fold for all users. If you don’t pay attention to how potential customers are experiencing your business on the web, you can’t control the message.

What content do people care about?

By understanding what pages on your site people spend time on, how they behave there, and what they do next, you can gain unparalleled insight into your business.

Just as a brick and mortar store owner would find it useful to develop an understanding of which store aisles draw the most customers and how the organization of her store impacts revenue — “did you find everything okay today?” — similarly, you as a business owner with a website should understand how your prospects spend their time there.

At a minimum, you should be able to recite:

1) Which pages are most visited? (your homepage, your blog, your shopping cart, your “about us” page, etc.)

2) Which pages attract the most repeat visitors? What about first timers?

3) Is new content appearing in this report, or has your website succumbed to content idleness?

Keep your site fresh by blogging and creating new content. You’ll get more organic search traffic and give your browsing population a treat to come back for. You want to see new pages indexing in this report, every few weeks at the very least.

4) Which pages have the highest bounce rate?

Is it because they suck, or because they’re a natural “exit point” for your site, like the order confirmation page? If they’re an exit point, are you providing a natural next step for your visitor? What should they do after purchasing — tell their friends to get a gift card? Share via social media? In general, analytics are a necessary and low-effort way to gather this data, but you’d also be wise to find a deeper understanding of how your users explore your site via usability testing.

All in all, here’s the bottom line. You’re busy. You’ve got a business to run, and minutes you spend in the weeds digging through statistics are minutes you could be spending elsewhere. But if you just have one hot minute to review your site analytics, I’m positing there are three places to keep your focus: traffic sources, browsers/devices, and site content.

About the author

Igor Belogolovsky is cofounder of Clever Zebo, a group of online marketing strategy experts dedicated to helping businesses grow revenue quickly and measurably by making smart moves on the web. For more good stuff, hang out with the Zebo on Twitter and peruse the Conversion Optimization blog.

Microsoft Chooses Loop11 for Usability Software

We are proud to finally announce that Loop11 has beaten a swathe of worldwide rivals to secure a licence deal with Microsoft‘s Office Experience Group.

Under the terms of the licence agreement, Microsoft’s Office Experience Group will utilize Loop11’s to conduct its online usability testing.  The win came after the team’s extensive benchmarking exercise of usability tools in the world marketplace.

We were chosen due to our ability to conduct rapid online usability testing across the range of Microsoft Office applications.  In addition it was the speed of software set up and implementation, ease of use, combined with the ability to meet strict security requirements, as well as the strong analysis capabilities that placed Loop11 in the winning position.

Our CEO, Toby Biddle, commented, “We’re delighted that a giant such as Microsoft has awarded Loop11 the business.  Traditionally, usability testing is conducted in the lab and relies on the more expensive and invasive method of recruiting participants and behavior observation.  Loop11 enables you to conduct fast online usability testing in over 40 languages, making it unbeatable for running worldwide projects from the comfort of your own office.”

Launched in 2009, the software was designed by Loop11’s team of developers to meet the needs of its sister company, usability consulting firm UsabilityOne.  “We were always seeking a cost effective usability tool that generated reliable statistics,” continued Biddle. “Before we developed Loop11, we found lab-based studies to be too small in sample size and although there were other software products in the marketplace, we found them inflexible and prohibitively expensive to be able to run iterative usability studies throughout the development of a website.  The answer was to build our own software based upon our 15 years of usability consulting experience.

“The beauty of Loop11 is its ability to be used by companies not just of Microsoft’s size, but also by small businesses, educational institutions, not-for-profits and government who want to run their own usability studies, continued Biddle. “With the increase in the number of digital applications, it has become more important for businesses to be smart about testing usability.”

If you too want to test like Microsoft grab yourself an annual licence starting at just $1,900 enquire about one NOW!

Loop11 Answers Samaritans Call For Usability Help

Samaritans is a charity in the UK and Ireland specialising in confidential emotional support.  It offers its invaluable service 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of emotional distress, despair or suicidal thoughts, using trained volunteers to respond and lend help to phone calls, emails and letters.

Relying entirely on donations and volunteer help, Samaritans’ website is the crucial portal through which the charity operates.  To improve the charity’s on-line portal, Samaritans sought the services of user-centred digital communications’ specialists, SiftGroups, with a view to redesigning its website.

THE PROBLEM

It was unknown whether the established Samaritans’ website was meeting the needs of current donors, volunteers and those needing emotional assistance.

THE BRIEF

SiftGroups ran a project to explore the usability of Samaritans’ established website with a view to informing how to shape its approach to the forthcoming website redesign.

THE ACTION

SiftGroups conducted an online usability appraisal of the current Samaritans website with 149 participants, providing an overall snapshot of how well core strategic tasks were performed by the site’s main audience types. The key areas SiftGroups assessed included vitally important and fundamental site tasks for the charity:

  • Getting Help
  • Making Donations and
  • Becoming a Volunteer.

The study was distributed to both “warm” and “cold” users that came from Samaritans’ wider internal email database.  Help tasks and questions were devised linking participants to the actual site to better determine user satisfaction, validate task completion and enable SiftGroup’s to form a strategic recommendation for the navigation of the new site design.

THE ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

Upon completion of the evaluation, the real-time reporting capability allowed SiftGroups to track and evaluate the task completion rates and monitor the navigation path of participants. The results showed that only half of the participants successfully completed the tasks, identifying in more detail those areas requiring addressing for the site remodeling.

In particular, the results showed a significant issue with the current site navigation when it came to those in need of finding ways of talking to friends they’re worried about with 66% of participants either failing or abandoning the task of “talking to someone” altogether.

The results also revealed the need to improve the retrieval of the all important real life case studies, which encourage those thinking of seeking help as well as volunteers and donors:

As a result of the study, SiftGroups was able to provide a strategic recommendation for an improved usability experience using hard statistics to back up new navigation models.

LOOKING TO DO SOME SIMILAR, EFFECTIVE USABILITY TESTING?

With its proven track record, Loop11 will help you get the most out of your website. Providing the ultimate online usability testing experience, Loop11 will reveal some startling home truths about your website usability generating quantifiable results and delivering real time performance without the cost of lab-based testing sessions.  It’s fast, affordable, simple to use and easy to get started straight away from the comfort of your own office.  Sign-up now or discover another Loop11 success story here.

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