Craig Mcilvain


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Answering Your Questions

Answering Question 1:
Q: How should I prioritize my work throughout the day?  How much of my time should I devote to SEO, SEM, social media, blogging, etc.?

A: This is a simple question to answer with analytics, yet it will be pivotal to everything you do because it’s going to tell you what your goals are.  In Google Analytics, go to Acquisitions, and then Channels, you can quickly and easily compare and contrast your sources of traffic.  By comparing the size of your traffic, and levels of engagement, you then can say, “ok, social media gives me 10% of my traffic each day.”  This might bring you to the conclusion that you only should spend 10% of your day devoted to social media.  But maybe your conversion rate is very high with social media?  That’s entirely dependent on your circumstance.  If the conversion rate is higher than other areas, then perhaps you will devote more time to social media.   If it’s equivalent to other sources, devote the same percentage of effort in a day to the percentage of traffic.   

Consider this scenario: A majority of your traffic is coming in organically, but you have low conversions.  In this case, much of your time should be devoted to improving the website so that this large source of traffic converts more (See Q4).  In every case, you’re devoting equivalent effort to the number of potential customers in a revenue stream and the likelihood of being converted.  These priorities will fluctuate based on the context of each business.  Look closely at the size of traffic and the conversions between channels to prioritize your goals.

What if the most conversions comes from the smallest source of traffic?
Clearly you need to devote the majority of your time to increasing the number of customers coming from here!  Just don’t be too lopsided.  Ask yourself why this source of traffic is converting so well and apply it to your other channels.   

Answering Question 2:  
Q: How much is advertising worth to me?  Can I afford to expand my advertising?

A: This again is dependent on the conversion rate.  I’m a big advocate of using Adwords because just like channels, you can compare and contrast the costs and benefits between Adwords campaigns and even the keywords that are used within Google Analytics.  You can do this by linking your Adwords and analytics accounts so that you can quickly look at the conversions of your advertising.  Seen from Google Analytics, you can analyze the conversion traffic of keywords the most effectively.  Seen from Adwords, you can easily compare campaigns by adding conversions, average visit duration, and bounce rate into your columns.

 If you’re a B2C company with E-commerce, it will be easy for you to see the direct connection between the costs of advertising v.s. profits made from advertising because the information will all be located in Analytics.  If you’re a B2B company you will need a work around.  You’ll need to catalogue all of the form submissions and follow up with sales about which ones became closed leads.  You will also want to have some kind of call tracking.  A large number of your conversions occur by phone!  You can do this manually, but this is highly inefficient.  A digital tracking system such as mongoose metrics is highly recommended to start documenting which campaigns and keywords became closed leads.  

Answering Question 3:
Q: How do I keep people engaged on my website?       

A: You should take a close look at the average visit duration and bounce rate of each individual page.  By comparing the effectiveness of each page you can start to see some trends.  Also run some experiments.  Whether it be that you use Google analytics’ “in page experiments” tool or that you simply try two different strategies on different pages and compare these pages over time, this will help you to find strategies that benefit your business.  You should think creatively and try new ideas on various landing pages.  The more you experiment and control conditions between pages, the more you will learn about what works and what doesn’t.

Answering question 4:   
Q: How can I increase the conversion rate?

A: While conversions are closely connected to engagement it also has to do with another issue, and that is the quality of your traffic.  If you improve the engagement, but the conversions are not high, it will indicate to you that you need to spend extra time targeting the correct consumers.  Look at your sources i.e. organic, paid search, social etc. in terms of their conversion rates in more granular detail.  For organic and paid search, you should be analyzing how keywords are performing in terms of their traffic and conversions.  Keywords that have the highest conversion rate indicate that you should place those words more frequently on your site and landing pages.  You might find that you’re too broad in your keywords.  You might need to add negative keywords to your Adwords campaign.  It’s dependent on your situation.  In terms of social, analyze the traffic on a link by link basis that came in through your social media.  The most successful l content will be your models for future content.


The above are just a few applications of analytics.  Realize again that Google Analytics never solved these problems, but simply shed some light on what your goals are.  You will have your own unique questions that you need to ask for your business.  Until you ask them, you won’t be able to make improvements to your site.    

If you’re new to Google Analytics, you’ll likely spend the first day exploring in awe of all of its features and then after that, you do not look at it again.  You’re not alone.  This is a common mistake among fresh marketers and I once was one of them.  Google Analytics is a gargantuan source of raw data.  Unless you go at that data with a goal in mind, the data is useless.  You need to be asking questions and then seeking the answers to those questions.

When Using Google Analytics, You Need to be Asking the Right Questions

Ask Questions

Like a scientist, you need to ask questions. After asking your questions, you can start to devise a “study” or “experiment” to answer your question in Google Analytics.  Keep in mind that Google Analytics is not a tool that solves your problem.  It merely sheds light on what it is that needs to be solved, and how it can be solved.  Below are just a few examples of some questions that you can answer using Google Analytics.  We then will describe how Google Analytics can be used to solve that problem.
1: How should I prioritize my work throughout the day?  How much of my time should I devote to SEO, SEM, social media, blogging, etc.?
2: How much is advertising worth to me?  Can I afford to expand my advertising?
3: How do I keep people engaged on my website?
4: How can I increase the conversion rate?