6 Basic Analytics Reports Every Business Owner Should Know

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Stephen Kinsella

STEPHEN KINSELLA Operations Director

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1. Audience

In order to sell to your audience, you need to know your audience. The Audience report in Google Analytics has plenty of information about who your audience is; their demographics, location, interests, devices and behaviour.

From the Audience Overview report you can get a quick look at your daily users and their behaviour, including pages/session, average session duration and bounce rate. This data is covered in more detail in the Behaviour Report, but is great for eyeballing how your audience is interacting with your website.

You also get a brief overview of demographics, most importantly the country and even city of users who have landed on your site. It’s good to know the geographic location of your online visitors, because it can be used later in geo-targeting for paid ads, and if you’re looking to expand you’ll know where you already have a big market.

You can also explore some of the sub-reports in audience to get even more demographic data about your audience. The more you know, the better you can target them with paid advertisements, and the more you can build your business and service to suit your core audience, raising profit and loyalty in the process.

It’s worth noting that data in this report isn’t always complete or 100% accurate: due to privacy laws, cookies settings and of course data collection in general, demographics can be difficult to gather with absolute certainty. However, the overall statistics still provide plenty of useful information, allowing you to see general trends and demographics to focus on, and their relative importance to your business.

2. Acquisition

The Acquisition Report tells you where your audience is coming from, and the distinct behaviour of users who come from different sources. The main traffic sources are:

  • Organic: Users who enter the site through organic search results and SERPs
  • Social: Users who come to your site from a social media site
  • Referral: Users who follow a link to the site from elsewhere
  • Direct: Users who directly enter a URL into their browser

Knowing where your users are coming from is strong. Are people entering your site mostly as Organic traffic? Then you know that most of your visitors are finding you through search, and that’s where you should be focusing your attention. That’s where people are looking for you, after all. It’s also a useful measure of how well different strategies are working: if you’re focusing heavily on SEO and organic traffic is low, then perhaps that strategy isn’t paying off.

It’s not just about where visitors are coming from, though, it’s about how valuable those visitors are. Even if Organic traffic is your highest visitor count, you might find that social media visitors have a lower bounce rate and higher conversion rate. In that case, you know that you should be focusing more attention on increasing social media performance – you may be getting a lot of traffic from search engines, but social media users are more valuable on a one-for-one basis.

Use the Acquisition Report to see where visitors are coming from, and the relative value of different channels so you know where to focus your efforts and how well your strategies are working.

3. Behaviour

The Behaviour Report contains more detailed information about how users are using your site and, importantly, how well different pages on your site are performing. Behaviour contains information about:

  • Page Views: The number of pages viewed by all visitors during this period
  • Unique Page Views: The number of unique sessions during which a page was viewed during this period
  • Avg. Time on Page: The average amount of time users spend on a page
  • Bounce Rate: The percentage of users who leave the site without interacting with it
  • Exit Rate: The percentage of people who exit on a particular page

Notably on the overview report, these numbers represent the average across all pages. In particular, this means that the Exit Rate becomes an average of (number of exits)/(number of page views), or in other words the closer to 100% it is, the fewer pages a user viewed before leaving the site.

The overview also shows you the percentage of people who visit each page on your site, for the top performing pages, so you can see at a glance which pages receive the most traffic.

All of this information can be drilled down on so that you see how well each page is performing individually. You can see this information at a glance in the Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages report, which allows you to evaluate your highest performing pages and where performance could be increased. This is well worth reviewing to see if new content needs creating, or old content adapting, to increase the value of your site.

4. Behaviour Flow

Also found within the Behaviour reports section is the Behaviour Flow function, which provides a visual overview of how users interact with your site. Arrows lead between page visualisations to show how users are moving through your site, and visualisations are bigger or smaller based on how many users visit that page. Drop-off points are noted in red so you can quickly see how users travel through your site, how many follow certain paths, and which pages are causing people to drop off.

Use this report to quickly visualise how people are using your site, and adapt your content and strategies to match. Don’t resist people’s attempts to navigate your site the way they feel is best, adapt it into how you build your site to make it easier and more intuitive for your users.

5. Goals & E-Commerce Conversions

Conversions are the bottom line of your business: how many people visiting your site turn into revenue or enquiries? Technically the Goals Report and E-Commerce Report are two separate reports, but generally you’ll be using one or the other to track the revenue of your site.

The E-Commerce Report allows you to easily track the conversion rates, numbers and average value of your E-Commerce store, while Goals allows you to determine specific actions you want the user to take, the values of those actions and, again, the conversion rates of those actions.

In both cases, this is the report you want to be looking at to track the end performance of your website. Is it making more money than you put into it? Where is it performing well, and how could it be performing better? Keep a close eye on this report at all times if you want to know what your site is actually doing for you, and how the end results of each action you take impact your bottom line.

6. Conversion Funnel

Conversion Funnels are like a very targeted version of the Behaviour Flow report, based on your goals and pre-defined paths you expect the user to follow. You can set up a conversion funnel when you create a goal, letting Google Analytics know where you expect users to enter the site, which pages you expect them to visit while they’re there and then, of course, the end goal you expect them to meet.

Once a conversion funnel is specified you can track it in Conversions > Goals > Funnel Visualisation, which tracks the number of people who enter the conversion funnel (at the top page you specified), the percentage who make it through all the way to the goal (conversion rate) and the drop-off stages of people who don’t convert.

In essence, this allows you to set up your expected or ideal customer journey, then find where the problems in that funnel are. Use this to improve your customer journey and conversion rate by improving the pages and the content along the way.

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Stephen Kinsella

STEPHEN KINSELLA Operations Director

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Stephen has over a decade’s digital marketing experience and 475+ client projects under his belt specialising in SEO, content marketing and local search marketing.