If you are currently employing content marketing, then I assume you have Google Analytics hooked up between the tags. Web Analytics 101 taught you to track traffic, views, bounce rates, and treat data with reverence.
That’s a good tip – or even an awesome tip – but the problem is that we do not always know what to do with the data gathered and how to analyze it.
Sometimes we are not even sure that we set up everything right. We need time to verify all of that.
This is a costly and lengthy process, and we are not always aware of the possibilities.
This is why for your convenience we decided to create a list of 13 cool analytics tips (including COOLER ones!) to increase your content marketing leads. You’ll learn how to set up Google Analytics right, and how to get value out of data gathered.
Finally, we’ll tell you how to combine data with other tools to optimize your website, and increase your engagement and conversions coming from your marketing efforts.
Identify your demographics
I’ll cover one area before we start.
I saw this question once: „How should I know who will become interested in my website? I can’t predict that.”
It’s not about predicting your audience – it’s about defining it. You optimize your content and service towards the defined audience’s needs.
It’s best to establish that early – the user experience method of crafting a User Persona is an efficient benchmark. According to research by Mike Gingerich, a buyer persona improves conversion even by 10% or increases e-mail campaigns efficiency by up to 14%.
What is a persona?
It is a representation of your ideal customer or visitor, based on analysis, research, interviews, surveys, social media studies, and feedback from employees.
You study the existing and potential audience, and create a role model to serve as a reference point.
MailChimp put a lot of effort in identifying their sample user base – they flew to different cities and met with their clients at their workplaces. They wanted to learn who, what, why, and how often they sent emails, how they behaved, where they worked, and what kinds of problems they faced.
The effort their put into identifying their users translates into their current success.
A Control Freak? Cool!
COOL TIP #1: You found out most of your user base, and thus your persona browses before midday? Include that period in your posting schedule.
Is your persona more likely to own Apple devices because of their social status? Make sure you optimize your product or service towards them. The examples go as far as life does.
Here’s a handy template to create personas for a content marketing strategy.
A sample user persona.
Identify your metrics
You need to know well what each stat in Google Analytics means. But, if you are trying to grow your business/website/store etc., it is best to grow one main metric at a time.
Traffic and time
If a page receives a lot of traffic, it probably means it is interesting to your visitors – high five!
COOL TIP #2: No. This metric alone does not actually tell you that your content is good. Your homepage might receive many visits because of good SEO or your blog posts might receive a lot of traffic because of good promotion tactics on social networks.
To determine the actual validity of your content, you must pair traffic with time spent on the website. If it is a blog post, people will spend more time on it if they are actually reading it. Neil Patel claims that content above 1500 words, with average reading time of 7 minutes works the best.
COOL TIP #3: A page with a low traffic, high exit rates and a lot of time spent on it means that the content is tough to navigate.
On the other hand, if the traffic is low, but your conversions are high, then your traffic is of high quality – make sure that your content is easy to share with twitter buttons, author bio’s and such.
COOL TIP #4: Make sure you use annotations when tracking traffic and other stats. It helps you keep track of all large events on your website that influenced your website flow.
For example, if a sudden spike in traffic happened because a big influencer shared your article, make sure to annotate that.
Reminders like this allow you to keep track of all your marketing actions and serve as an inspiration for new campaigns. Here’s a handy video from Google telling you how to set them up.
COOL TIP #5: Combine the annotations with intelligence events – alerts that detect variations in statistics, for example unusual drops in registers. You can use the automatic alerts from Google or set up your custom ones. Your own alerts depend on your needs and creativity, but you can consult this amazing article with 55 possible alerts by Lunametrics.
If you created a new landing page, but there is a bug and it does not display correctly, you can set up an alert if a bounce rate is unusually high and you’ll detect that in no time. Google Support tells you here how to create your custom alerts.
COOLER TIP #1: To get the most data, I pair these two statistics with Visual Analytics – in this case a horizontal attention map. It tracks mouse movements on a webpage, and shows how far people scroll down and which parts receive a lot of attention.
We optimize our front page by moving elements that are important (or interesting) higher. We also improve our writing – I learned that narrower columns for reading, left-aligned text and a font above 14 improve the reading experience and increase the time spent on the website with a slightly lower bounce rate – it means the quality of reading is higher.
A sample heatmap.
Conversion, in other words a completion of a desired action – a purchase, a register, a newsletter subscription, or a social media share – the list goes on.
In order to measure the conversion ratio (people total to people completing an action), you should set up goals in Google Analytics, and there are different types: destination, duration, pages/screens per visit, and event.
If you want people to see a specified webpage, you track destination. For blog posts and reading time, you track duration. To track engagement on a number of pages, you track screens per visit. Finally, to check downloads or filling out forms – events.
COOL TIP #6: However, tracking conversions without properly set-up goals is a wasted effort, and most ignore that fact, sadly. You need goals to see the conversion reports, which include the overall number of conversions, conversion rate per goal, and the value of a goal.
The goals itself are in two categories: micro and macro goals.
Micro goals are the entry levels in your marketing funnel – reading an article, downloading a PDF, using a contact form.
Macro goals are the final levels of the funnel – requesting a demo, consulting the pricing, buying the product.
You need both micros and macros to have a properly functioning content marketing funnel that will result in high quality leads. To create them, consult the guide coming from Google itself – it’s pretty easy and quick.
COOLER TIP #2: We combine conversions tracking with other tools available in the Visual Analytics territory – visitor recording, click tracking, and form testing.
Destination conversions and screens per visit are paired with Visitor Recording, which tracks every event that happened on a website during a given user’s journey that we can later watch.
With it, we can determine how a user reached his or her destination and we can reach conclusions about possible factors that led them to the desired outcome.
Maybe it is navigation architecture that made it possible or the efficient placement of CTA’s – we will know that. We use this feedback in any future projects.
If the conversions are lacking, we can figure out in context whether there are any errors as well.
Filling out forms, which is a type of event conversions, is important for most ecommerce websites. If the registration process is hard to go through, more people will drop out.
Sometimes certain fields in the form are problematic because they haven’t been specified well enough or feature a code bug – you can verify that quickly with statistics showing you what is the dropout rate from given fields.
One of the most popular forms of content marketing is offering free stuff (exactly like one of the eBooks at the bottom). The downloader needs to put some data like e-mail or name in exchange, so they can be nurtured with more freebies like articles, whitepapers etc.
If the content is valuable, it creates interest and trust – just check your inbox and see how many newsletters you are receiving.
COOL TIP #7: To check the effectiveness of your free content, you must set up event tracking to see whether the download happens.
Consider adding tracked links to your PDFs and such to see if your freebies are actually being read – downloads alone are a vain statistic, as there are plenty of hoarders who collect stacks of eBooks and consult only a fraction of them.
COOLER TIP #3: Freebies are usually available through landing pages. You can set them up yourself or you can use a service such as Unbounce.com or Optimizely.com, which lets you create a landing page with a very easy editor.
However, the best thing is that you can create variants of the landing pages for A/B testing. We track leads with Unbounce, which provides you with a coherent list of downloads and info about them, but it also allows you to add scripts to your landing pages.
We added scripts to track behavior on the landing pages and saw with click tracking and visitor recording that the copy with stats and benefits, not features, works best. The fields’ engagement also tends to drop at the phone field – it confirms the theory of other sources that claim asking for the telephone number lowers conversion.
This data led us to a variant of a landing page – we are still tracking, but the results so far look very promising, and once we’re done, we’ll release a case study, so stay tuned.
Creating segments in a Google Analytics is a must – don’t believe averages. I told you earlier to create a persona (one or more) and this is the audience you should aim for.
Anything else only skews the overall view of your data. With segments you are able to isolate the audience that matters to you, so you can analyze the data that is valuable for your business.
For example, if you see that your personas are no longer reading your content, it might mean that you have competition with a similar offer that targets your audience. If you are interested in setting up segments, here’s a guide by Google.
COOL TIP #8: You can use segments to track and win back your audience in the aforementioned example – offer them free, exclusive content such as PDFs or whitepapers, and do not require them to provide any data.
Moreover, segments are great for Remarketing – create a segment of users visiting your pricing page. Once they return, offer a special discount only for them to nudge them towards filling out the form.
COOLER TIP #4:We use Woopra.com to track individual reports coming from users. We are able to see the basic data about a given user and we analyze their journey on our website. As it has been mentioned, we have Visitor Recording that shows actions in context.
However, we do not know exactly who that user is and what happened, unless we watch the recording. With Woopra we track people who quit abruptly (we know that because of alerts) and align their times with the recordings to see whether they encountered any errors. As a result, we quickly eliminate any errors that might hurt the process of browsing and using the website.
One of our clients studied the paths of their visitors, and saw that people exit on the register webpage due to one button. Removing it gave them a 40% increase in conversion – sometimes a small mistake can have a big impact.
With properly set up campaigns you will know where people came from to your website. However, more often than not campaigns are botched up and provide useless data because untagged traffic goes to direct campaigns. With a fresh dashboard, GA gives you three channels:
- (None) – people who came through bookmarks or by typing in the address manually (rarely happens for fresh sites),
- Referral – links to you on other domains (for example social media),
- Organic – people who came from search engines (best for gauging whether your SEO works)
COOL TIP #9: You can expand your campaigns ever further – you can track links coming from your email nurturing, in Twitter ads, in your pop-up, or even in a HelloBar.
To do that, you need to track your links with an URL builder, which adds a tag to your link that is later appropriately added to a given campaign. Here is the link to the tool: Google URL Builder. Inside you need to specify two of the 5 parameters in order for it to work:
- Campaign Source (utm_source) – Required. This specifies where the traffic is coming from (e.g. Quora, newsletter).
- Campaign Medium (utm_medium) – Required. This specifies the medium of the traffic (e.g. a banner, a referral).
- Campaign Term (utm_term) – Used in paid searches. If it is an ad, you can specify the keywords for it.
- Campaign Content (utm_content) – Best for A/B tests and content-targeted ads. You can use that to track different adds or links that take to the same destination after a click.
- Campaign Name (utm_campaign) – You simply identify the name of the campaign.
After setting it up, you are free to use the link and track it.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool, but it needs a lot of knowledge in order to be used efficiently – that is why we provided you with cool tips, so you set it up properly.
However, even though GA provides you with info about the what, you do not really know why certain actions on your website happen, and you did not know how to use that for creating leads.
That is why we created the coolest tips, so you can use other tools to optimize your website to the fullest. Using them will surely help you in getting value out of your marketing efforts.