The term Big Data has been around for a while, and is constantly gaining in prominence. On an off chance that you don’t know what it refers to, it basically describes the amorphous mass of data collected from various sources, accessible to those who know where to look and how to leverage insights from it.
The degree of your involvement in Big Data mining depends on your budget, infrastructure, staff and particular needs, so, while the information obtained in this manner can be absolutely detrimental to the success of your business, majority of small businesses lack the resources to seriously commit to this task. However, as long as they have a website, they can slice off a little piece of the Big Data cake for themselves, by doing nothing more than observing Google Analytics reports.
Most businesses already have someone in charge of monitoring basic Google Analytics data, however, this is usually either aimed at improving SEO efforts, or simply at making sure that the site is working as expected. Only considering basic traffic data means that you are ignoring a ton of potentially useful information on your business.
Observing this data comes with the same kind of problem inherent to Big Data analysis, only on a much smaller scale i.e. differentiating actionable and useful data from the white noise that surrounds it. That’s why we’ll try and divert your attention to some of the information that you should track, and elaborate on how it can benefit your business.
Where Are the Visitors Coming From?
Some of the most pertinent data that you can gather this way concerns the ways in which people are reaching your website. This includes links to your business from other websites, as well as from organic search. By finding the sources with the best yield, you can identify strategies for attracting new visitors.
Each time you see your traffic from one source spiking, you should stop and consider why this is so. Have you just published an interesting piece of content there? Did you get a mention on a prominent, niche relevant website? Did you catch the eye of an influencer, who then recommended you to his or her audience? By observing these instances, you can try and recreate their effects in the future.
Finding out how many users access your website via mobile devices is another useful metric that you should track. By observing their behavior you can find out if there are pages that are especially relevant for such users, and ensure that they are optimized for mobile devices.
Apart from allowing you to survey the digital landscape, this kind of analytics gives you a chance to determine the geographical location of your visitors. If you are offering your services exclusively to inhabitants of Sydney, and you learn that most of your visits come from Brisbane, this can give you an important clue about how to proceed with your marketing efforts.
Where Do Visitors Land, and How Long Do They Stick around?
Once someone visits your website, you can observe how they behave and leverage this knowledge to improve their experience and increase conversions. You’ll be able to see which of your pages attract the most attention, which seem to drive users away, and which are the ones that inspire conversion. Once you have identified a popular page, you can optimize it so that it furthers your goals. For instance, you could add a call to action to that page, or try to guide people to another, already optimized one.
Likewise, this shows which pages need improvement. Naturally, just like with every other step of the analysis, interpreting the data the right way requires some critical thought. We’ll elaborate – if you notice that visitors are often leaving your website after visiting a particular page, this might be for one of a number of reasons – they might have been somehow repelled by what they found there, but they also might have found everything they were looking for and have no further reason to stick around.
So, if you notice this behaviour on the contact page, this is not a cause for concern, however if some of the content pages inspire this kind of action, you might want to think about improving them.
How to Setup
When it comes to a vast majority of business, the only person showing any kind of interest in analytics is the webmaster, who, more often than not, doesn’t get too involved in making business decisions, and is only concerned with the technical aspects of website’s maintenance. Whoever it is that does this for you, they need to be informed on what kind of data you could find useful, and able to export that data in a format that their less tech savvy colleagues can understand and build on.
It’s important to remember that the data gathered through Google Analytics doesn’t only reveal things about your website, but also about your business in general. In this article we tried to emphasize data sets that are most important from this perspective, but if you need more info on how to actually inspect that data, you can refer to one of our older articles on the subject – Getting Started with Google Analytics, which should give you some handy pointers, despite the fact that the software went through some changes in the meantime.