Getting to know the customer is fundamental to running a business, and for small businesses with websites, digital analytics can be a powerful tool for understanding your audience.
“I think every business can take advantage of digital analytics,” says Justin Cutroni, an Analytics Evangelist at Google.
Thanks to search engines and platforms like Yelp, Angie’s List and Google+, even small brick-and-mortar stores have digital storefronts these days.
“Small businesses in local communities are digital businesses these days, because we’re using digital mechanisms as consumers to find these businesses and interact with them,” says Cutroni.
That said, tools like Google Analytics can be intimidating to small-business owners, especially those who don’t have a background in compiling and analyzing data. Cutroni offered the following navigation tips, as well as some important data SMBs should be tracking.
Easy Steps to Getting Started
The first step to using Google Analytics is to create an account. For businesses whose websites get 10 million or fewer hits per month, the service is free. Once you’ve created your account, Cutroni says Google Analytics provides you with a small amount of code to put in every page of the websites.
“A lot of websites are built using templates, and you can usually stick this right in the template,” he says. Some companies that provide free or low-cost easy-to-use templates include Wix, Squarespace and Wordpress.
“For all of these platforms, because they are massive platforms with huge communities, they have lots of plug-ins that simplify the process even further … I use Wordpress myself, and there’s a plug-in [for Google Analytics],” says Cutroni.
Once you install the plug-in or drop the code into your website’s pages, Google Analytics begins tracking data on your small-business site.
5 Key Metrics to Watch
No. 1: Traffic Sources and Conversions
How are visitors coming to your site? Cutroni says understanding where your visitors are coming from – and who’s converting from a visitor to a customer –can help SMBs focus their marketing efforts.
Cutroni says businesses can track whether visitors are coming to the site from display ads, SEO efforts or marketing emails, and take a close look at which channels are driving conversions. Then, you can take that data and tweak your strategies accordingly, choosing to spend more on some channels and less on others.
“If you sent out 1,000 emails and got six conversions, and with your last email send you got 50, then you know this email didn’t work as well,” he explains.
No. 2: Bounce Rate
Bounce rate tracks the number of visitors who land on your site and quickly leave. If visitors are accessing your small-business page and not delving into the content, Cutroni says you might want to rethink the way your site is laid out and make it more attractive or compelling.
No. 3: On-Site Behavior
Google Analytics can help business owners track how visitors are interacting with their websites.
Cutroni says tracking the time spent on the site and the number of pages visited can help business owners understand what content is most attractive to their audience.
No. 4: Business-Specific Goals
Google Analytics’ Goals function allows users to track key performance indicators, says Cutroni. This could be ecommerce revenue and transactions, or the number of leads generated and the cost per lead.
“The first step is to make sure that your business objectives are reflected in the data. A lot [of businesses] are transactional, so you want metrics to reflect that,” he says.
These goals could include the number of sales or revenue for businesses that sell items online, or lead generation for companies that provide services.
By tracking these goals, Google Analytics can help business owners understand how their efforts are paying off over time, and whether changes are bringing about expected results.
No. 5: Read the Dashboard
Lastly, Cutroni recommends business owners get their Google Analytics Dashboards emailed to them each day. The dashboard will contain all of the information you’ve decided to track in a simple, easy-to-read format, delivered straight to your inbox.
Fundamentally, Cutroni says using digital analytics can help small-business owners better understand whether their marketing and sales efforts are working.
“It’s a feedback loop – as you get data, you can take some action,” says Cutroni.