When attempting to reach and engage with prospective clients, a website is a company’s most valuable tool for providing information and influencing purchasing decisions. While you may have great social media
feeds and lots of email subscribers, all roads ultimately lead to your website.
Business owners who fail to evaluate their website’s performance for converting traffic into leads and customers miss vital opportunities to optimize their websites for inquiries and sales.
Fortunately, tools for evaluating your website are already at your fingertips—if you know where to look. Google Analytics is the most powerful platform for gaining insights regarding how well your website converts traffic into inquiries. It allows you to maximize your presence on all of your channels. There are many myths about Google Analytics, particularly with people who don’t regularly use it to make data-based decisions in their businesses.
Here are the top five misconceptions about Google Analytics and the truth behind how this platform can take your marketing approach up a few notches.
Myth 1. You need a lot of traffic to be successful.
It’s natural to think that quantity is more important than quality. After all, seeing thousands of pageviews per month is exciting. However, if none of those views lead to an inquiry, they’re virtually worthless. A quick look at a geography report may show that a bulk of this traffic is coming from places like Russia or Ukraine, indicating that many of the visitors are actually spambots. Even if your traffic is qualified, you have a problem if people find your site only to click away from it moments later.
That’s why your conversion rate is a far more accurate representation of the health of your business. Not every successful company is getting loads of traffic and not every business that sees high traffic is successful. Instead of setting your sights on how many people visit your page, focus on how many of your website visitors are taking the next step to get in contact with you.
Myth 2. A low bounce rate is important.
Many people see a low bounce rate and assume that it means their website is effectively keeping their users’ interest. While it can mean this, a low bounce rate isn’t necessarily an indicator of success. For example, a low bounce rate could mean that the Google Analytics code was installed twice. A low bounce rate could also mean that visitors cannot find what they’re looking for on your website, so they click through a bunch of pages before going elsewhere.
Similarly, if you are driving traffic to a landing page or inquiry page (as opposed to your homepage) and eliciting them to call you, Google won’t understand that they took an action offline. They’ll consider it a bounce when, in reality, it was simply someone who was warmed up and already prepared to take the next step. If you want to confirm your low bounce rate is a sign of efficacy, you’ll need to match it with other engagement metrics, like time spent on pages or a custom event, like scroll depth.
Myth 3. Direct traffic means they know about my business and typed in my web address.
While a common misconception is that “direct traffic” means someone has typed in your URL directly and is familiar with your brand and website, direct traffic really means “I don’t know where this came from” in Google Analytics. For example, if someone bookmarked your page, you’ll see it as direct traffic. These visitors may have bookmarked a number of your competitors. Bookmarking is not the same as remembering and typing in a URL. That’s not to say they don’t have strong recognition of your brand; it simply means you can’t make
Direct traffic can also come from private emails, whether you’re sending links directly or someone forwards your email blast to someone else. In some cases, Google is unable to tell it’s from an email and won’t associate it as an email referral. For these reasons, I typically ignore the direct traffic report because you can never be certain what is in there. Instead, focus on more defined reports with cleaner data, as those will provide more actionable insights.
Myth 4. You don’t need to install Google Analytics if you are using built-in analytics from Squarespace.
Squarespace websites are versatile and easy to set up, but their analytics fall flat compared to Google. Squarespace ships with high-level, basic reports, like geography, referrals, and most popular pages. While such reports prove useful for data at a glance, you miss out on a lot of the customization offered by Google Analytics. For example, Squarespace may tell you what social media platform drives the most traffic, but Google will take it further by revealing which platforms actually convert those website visitors into inquiries and customers.
Additionally, you can create segments in Google Analytics and run custom reports based on your audience. Say you want to review website activity of females between the ages of 25 and 34, you can run a report on Google that will tell you precisely what your target audience is looking at and how much time they’re spending on each page of your website. There’s certainly merit to tracking your Squarespace metrics, but you’d be missing out if you didn’t also take the opportunity to crunch more data and access comprehensive reporting with Google Analytics.
Myth 5. Google Analytics is complicated to set up and customize.
A glimpse at a Google Analytics dashboard and all of the possible reports at one’s disposal can seem overwhelming, particularly for creatives who much prefer aesthetics to analytics. However, the truth is that Google Analytics has a pretty low barrier to entry and a gentle learning curve. It’s easy to get caught up in the possibilities, but you don’t need to touch every corner of Google Analytics to make use of it. While there are nearly 200 reports available out of the box and countless options for creating custom reports, the simple fact is that you really only need a handful of data points to help your business grow.
Additionally, online resources abound to help you navigate and optimize your Google Analytics dashboard. When in doubt, turn to YouTube for on-screen tutorials to help you accomplish everything from setting conversion goals to generating custom demographic reports.
For all intents and purposes, Google Analytics is simply another tool in your belt. It’s up to you, as a marketer, to ask the right questions of your data so you can gather the insights that will inform your outreach strategies going forward. The numbers will always be there, but it’s what you do with the data that truly matters.