With today's analytics tools, collecting data about a company's online performance is not generally a problem for marketers. Rather, the problem is figuring out how to sort through all that data and use it to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
To help, here are five relatively simple, high-level reports that can provide clear insights. All of the reports can be generated for free in Google Analytics and are available in most other website analytics programs as well.
Most any metric you are evaluating can be looked at in comparison to the previous year (or any other time period you choose). In Google Analytics, this is achieved by selecting a current date range on the calendar and then checking the "Compare to" box directly beneath the date range field.
Comparing metrics such as search traffic or engagement to what they were a year ago allows you to see exactly what progress (if any) has been made in each area.
Comparison of Traffic Sources
People can reach your site through four broad traffic sources:
- Directly, by typing in the address
- Referrals from other sites
- Search engines
- Advertising campaigns
By looking at the percentage of traffic that comes from each source and how that mix changes over time, you can gain insight into how your SEO, social media, email and other marketing efforts are performing.
You can easily pull reports on the number of page views for each day, week or month, both for the site as a whole and for individual pages. These figures can help you produce more effective content.
For example, a blog post that is more viral on social media will receive a higher-than-normal number of page views when it is first posted (or first gets noticed socially). A post that is successful at drawing search traffic will get consistently strong page views over a long period of time and is more likely to have its traffic trend upward as it ages.
By identifying which pages are successful and the ways in which they succeed, you can produce similar content that builds upon those successes.
By looking at the organic search terms that people use to find your site and how each of those terms trends over time, you can improve your keyword strategy.
For example, you may discover new or unexpected keywords that your site ranks highly for, and you might adjust your strategy to focus more on those terms. For specific keywords that you have been building around, the trends will indicate whether your efforts are meeting with success.
Landing Pages for "Not Provided" Search Traffic
These days, a large percentage of search terms are reported as "not provided," due mostly to logged-in Google users performing secure (SSL) searches. Though you cannot see what words they searched for, you can see what landing pages they arrived on. In Google Analytics, this is accomplished by selecting "Landing Page" as a secondary dimension traffic source.
Based on which search strings normally direct to those landing pages, you can infer the keywords being used and get a more complete picture of your site's SEO profile.
There are many related reports you can use to drill down and get more detail on any of these items. But with these basic reports, you can get a good handle on your overall marketing effectiveness.
* Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net