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Most business owners don’t have the time to regularly analyze marketing efforts and the results they provide. Your time is better spent managing resources, streamlining operations and planning for your business’s future. This doesn’t mean, however, that owners shouldn’t understand critical marketing metrics, such as those provided in Google Analytics, to see whether your marketing campaigns are successful.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free website traffic monitoring tool enabled by installing a code in your website. With the real-time information provided in Google Analytics, you’ll know how many people are visiting your site, what pages are the most popular, how they are finding your website, if your marketing efforts are effective, and so much more. Most importantly, Google Analytics’ insights help you benchmark current website performance and set future goals. All good marketing, whether it’s for a fortune 500 company or a mom and pop shop, needs planning and strategy. Google Analytics allows you to measure and track the impact your marketing campaigns have on your website’s traffic and usage. Google Analytics can be accessed at or via a company’s linked Google AdWords account. As a business owner, viewing monthly reports can be beneficial as you continue to monitor and measure website trends and marketing goals.

Visitor Acquisition Channels

One of the most important things Google Analytics records is how a visitor arrived at your website. Acquisition data is a good indication of how well your marketing strategies drive visitors to your site. Here are four common website visitor channels:

  1. Direct – Direct visitors arrive at your website by typing your web address into the URL bar. Direct website visits could be a result of returning customers that have bookmarked your website or marketing efforts such as advertisements, direct mail, or exposure to your brand via an industry trade show.
  2. Referral – Referral traffic is generated from other websites. Marketing strategies that impact referral website traffic include editorial mentions in online news sources or directories, such as ThomasNet. Influencing free referral traffic is hard work because it requires another website to see value in linking to your website’s content.
  3. Organic – Organic website visitors found you via a search engine such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. If your website is being found through a search engine, that means your website contains content relevant to the words searched. Businesses with healthy organic traffic are usually engaged in Search Engine Optimization – a long-term strategy that helps your site increase its visibility through search engines.
  4. Social – Social visitors come from the social media platforms your company or business might be leveraging. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+ and even Reddit can all drive visitors back to your website if you are executing social media marketing strategies effectively. Engaging posts and content help drive leads from your social accounts to your website.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Now that visitor acquisition channels are better understood, let’s dive into key performance indicators, or KPIs, and why they are important. Key performance indicators are the metrics that will help assess the general performance of a website. Google analytics is filled with KPIs that can offer insight into a site’s success when working towards a particular goal, but these six KPIs are important behaviors to track:

  1. Sessions vs. Users – This KPI has two parts. Each visitor from a web browser is logged as a user in Google Analytics. While every time that user visits your website, their time is labeled a session. So You might assume that users are people, but that is not correct. Your website sessions should be the same as, or higher, than your number of users.

There are exceptions to almost every rule. An example of when a user may not be unique would be when a person visits a website from a PC, smartphone, and tablet, meaning they would be three different users from an analytical standpoint.

Trend to aim for: Most business owners want to see website sessions and users continuously increase. When tracking metrics, it’s important to monitor month-over-month and year-over-year data – especially for seasonal businesses.

  1. New User – The first time a device or a browser loads your website, a code is used for tracking the new user. If a user leaves your site but returns later, as long as the user’s browser cookies have not been deleted, Google Analytics will remember their unique ID and not count them as a new user.

Trend to aim for: If your business’s goal is to grow sales from existing customers, then you should be less concerned with attracting new users to your website.

  1. Bounce Rate – Bounce rate is a metric that measures the percentage of visitors who land on your website and leave without taking an action of any kind. A person that “bounces” doesn’t click on any links or navigate to other pages. The bounce rate is an important gauge of not only the quality of your website but the visitors that are being attracted.

Trend to aim for: Unless your website is a primarily a source of news, you want your website to have a bounce rate of 60% or less. Ideally, the content on your website should entice users to visit other pages on your site. If your website has a high bounce rate, it could mean your site’s information isn’t valuable enough, or the wrong audience is visiting your site.

  1. Pages/Session – This metric shares the average number of pages a user visits per session. Once a user lands on your site, Google Analytics begins tracking their activity, monitoring which and how many pages they visit during their session. Pages viewed per session can reflect how valuable or helpful a user finds your content.

Trend to aim for: Most businesses want users to visit more than one page on a website. Reversely, if people are visiting five or more pages/session, it could mean users are having a tough time finding the information they need. Tip: Make sure the high-traffic pages on your website contain a prominent call-to-action, directing users how they can take the next step with your business.

  1. Session duration – Session duration measures the time a user spends on your website. Like pages/session, this metric can reflect the usefulness of your website and its content. In theory, the longer a user’s session, the more effective a website could be. Content that could increase a user’s session duration includes visual resources like infographics and video. Trend to aim for: Your goal for session duration would be to avoid either extreme – too low or too high. Ultimately you want the user to digest just enough information on your site that convinces them to contact your business.
  2. Conversion Goals – Lastly, and most importantly is the conversion goals metric. For most people, conversion means making a sale or gaining revenue. When it comes to Google Analytics and measuring marketing campaigns, conversions represent the goals of your website, like subscribing to your email newsletter, requesting a quote, or inputting their lead information to be contacted.

Trend to aim for: The number of conversions you aim for is relative to your business and what you are selling. What’s critical is having opportunities on your business’s website to collect visitor’s information (like a Contact Us page) and enabling conversion tracking in Google Analytics so your team can monitor the number, and quality, of those leads.

Google Analytics is a tool that the most successful marketers and businesses use to gauge, measure and track their successes and even failures. Most business owners won’t have the time to engage with reports daily, but observing them regularly and noting trends, whether they are over months or years can have a positive impact on marketing efforts.

Not sure how to interpret your website’s metrics? Or are you considering an investment in a new website or web marketing program? An audit of your current digital performance is a good place to start. Learn how Proximity Marketing and our approach can be an asset to your business.

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Beth is our VP of Digital Marketing Strategy who, besides drinking a ridiculous amount of coffee, helps clients generate more business. Whether they’ve partnered with Proximity Marketing for a decade or just joined the family, Beth helps clients achieve success and achieve measurable results.

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