Analytics Basics for Business
Analytics gathers an enormous amount of data about your site – and plenty of it is stuff you don’t need to know at all. I mean, does it really matter if 15% of your users are on iOS but only 5% are on a different mobile app? Do you need to know how many people use Chrome, or who prefers Safari for their browsing experience? Not really. (Well, okay, we do, but that’s because it’s our business to know how websites are viewed! But most organisations can leave that well alone.)
People who work on the web will need to know which browsers are most popular – it affects the way we build sites, design images, and all that technical stuff. But the fine detail isn’t going to make much difference to your business once your site is live.
We know that Analytics can be bewildering at first glance, so we’ve put together an easy guide to getting information that’s useful to you, quickly.
Navigate your way to these three places in your Analytics account and you’ll get the goods on what you need to know about your website.
Giving you an overview of audience behaviour on your site for the last month, the sessions, behaviour, and pageviews are probably going to be the most useful for you.
You should keep an eye on your percentage of new and returning visitors, too. A strong proportion of new visitors is good, because it means that your marketing channels are working. Don’t neglect your returning visitors, though – building up loyalty is crucial in an age where website users are constantly looking out for the best deal.
Country and city demographics might be interesting for you to check if you have marketing campaigns targeting particular areas (or even just for your own curiosity), but unless you’re actively targeting non-UK markets you don’t need to worry about that too much.
One thing that you can do to your Audience Overview screen is add a new segment to show you what you need to see. Under the “Audience Overview” heading there’ll be a box with a blue circle that says “All Sessions”. Click to the right of that box, and you’ll be able to add other information to your Audience Overview screen.
There are a number of different traffic segments on offer – new users, converting users, paid traffic – and if they’re important to your business, you should certainly consider adding them in. In 2014, use of mobile devices to browse the internet overtook desktops for the first time. In the wake of #Mobilegeddon and Google’s promotion of mobile sites to mobile searchers, one segment you should definitely keep an eye on is your mobile traffic.
Having your mobile traffic visible as part of your broader audience view will show you how much Mobilegeddon affected you. If you have plenty of new users coming through, you’re probably doing fine – in fact, it’s worth taking a look at exactly where they come from, to see which of your channels are working for you.
Most people use mobile browsing to gather information quickly. It’s often a fact-checking mission to look something up – a contribution to a conversation that’s ongoing in real life – so don’t worry if your mobile visits seem to be shorter than your desktop sessions.
You can have mobile traffic and tablet traffic showing up separately, but honestly, it’s a lot neater to view the combined metric against your overall traffic. Too many options is what makes Analytics confusing.
Oh, and if you wondered why so many people seem to be viewing your website in “en-us” as well as “en-gb”, that’s because the default language for most mobile browsers is US English. It’s probably not a sign of a strong presence across the pond – sorry about that!
While the Behaviour panel is useful for showing you your site’s most popular pages, Acquisition Overview is probably the single most useful section of Analytics in terms of how well your marketing is working for you.
In short, it shows you where people have come from, and presents you with a neat little pie chart that shows the last month’s traffic in terms of how they found you. Organic search, social media, referral traffic from other sites – you can see exactly which channels are working best for you.
If you set “Mobile and Tablet Traffic” as a metric above, it’ll show up here, too. It’s useful to keep this segment active, as sometimes it reveals dramatically different top trends in how people find your site. For example, by seeing the pie charts side-by-side, we’ve learned that people searching for our services are likely to be doing it on desktops – but that mobile users are more likely to be new to our site than desktop users, who have a higher proportion of returning visitors.
The Acquisition section allows you to see what each channel means in terms of how many new users came to your site, which users bounced off again quickly, and how long they tended to stay. Seeing the real numbers gathered from your site offers you the ability to make data-driven decisions on how to improve your marketing.
Now that you can assess your audience behaviour, and you know how they found you, you’ve covered the basics of how your website is working. That information should offer good feedback on whether your marketing is working – and where you can target your improvements for the future.