By Dennis Shiao published February 19, 2020 Est Read Time: 8 min

Stop Wasting Time: Review Your Website Analytics

Is reviewing site analytics something that’s always on your to-do list but never gets crossed off?

Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media says that doesn’t make sense. “The reason to use analytics is to stop wasting time and to abandon those tactics and processes that don’t make a difference. I use analytics because I’m busy,” he says.

Use analytics to stop wasting time and abandon tactics that don’t make a difference, says @crestodina via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

In a Content Marketing World presentation, How to Analyze Content Performance Using Google Analytics: From Basics to Advanced, Andy details tips and tricks that not only save marketers time but also create more effective websites.

Little-known facts, just a few clicks away

Let’s take a quiz. Can you answer these questions about your website?

  • Number of content updates per week?
  • Monthly unique visitors (approximate)?
  • Homepage bounce rate?
  • Most popular page on the site?
  • Year of the last website redesign?

You probably can answer most off the top of your head, right? OK, good. Now we move to the next level:

  • Which items in your main navigation get the most clicks?
  • Which social icon in your footer gets the most clicks?
  • How many video views do the embedded YouTube videos receive?
  • What blog posts see the highest conversion rate to email subscribers?

How many of these could you answer? If it was two or more, give yourself a pat on the back.

It’s important to know the answers to all the questions. When I managed my company’s website, I could answer none of them. It’s a shame because the data is but a few clicks away in Google Analytics. In other words, it’s easy to set up – we just need to do it.

Let’s consider each of these.

1. What gets the most clicks on the main navigation?

Google Analytics proficiency: Beginner

Impact: Medium

What does “main navigation” mean? Let’s consider the CMI site:

The elements of the main navigation are in the top row: Articles, Resources, Research, Topics, etc. Some of these elements are nested, which means that a mouse hovering on them triggers a drop-down menu of categories. For example, under Research are two child pages – Custom Research and Research Insights.

How do your visitors use the homepage navigation? Look at the Google Analytics (Behavior > Site Content > All Pages) and drill down to homepage. From here, pick the option that Andy says people often miss – Navigation Summary:

The Navigation Summary shows where people came from and where they went next – represented in Google Analytics as Previous Page Path and Next Page Path:

To see what pages get clicks from the site’s main navigation, look at the Next Page Path section. According to Andy, “Next Page Path is the performance of your navigation.” He notes that this information often leads to discoveries that “there are little things that get clicked a lot and big things that almost never get clicked.”

The little things getting lots of clicks? Move them to a more prominent position. The things that never get clicked? Remove them in the main navigation.

“Don’t add anything new to your website until you’ve taken something else away,” Andy says. “What should you take away? The worst-performing thing. What’s that? The navigation summary will show you.”

Your site’s navigation summary can tell you what you need to remove from your site, says @crestodina via @cmicontent. #analytics Click To Tweet

2. Which content converts the best?

Google Analytics proficiency: Intermediate

Impact: Large

Throughout the Orbit Media blog, you notice a sign-up area to opt in to Orbit’s email newsletter. That’s one of Andy’s primary goals with his company’s blog – to drive email subscribers. “The ultimate version of content performance is to see who was so inspired that they gave me their email address. I think that’s a lot of trust,” he says.

To understand which pages generate the most conversions, use the Reverse Goal Path report (i.e., Conversions > Goals > Reverse Goal Path). In this example, the top item is a post on blogging statistics, which generated 95 completions:

While the number of conversions is a good indicator, the data could be skewed based on traffic patterns. Maybe the top post generated the most conversions because it had 10 times the number of page views. So, Andy says you should take the review one step further by analyzing the conversion rate for each blog post – take the conversion counts and divide that by number of page views.

To do this Andy created an Excel sheet. He input the conversion counts and the number of page views (from the All Pages report). Andy says, it’s “kind of a hassle. So much work that I only did this every six months.”

Andy being Andy, he discovered a way to automate the process using Google Sheets, which he connects to his Google Analytics account. For a step-by-step guide, read the Orbit Media post Find Your Top Converting Content in 10 Steps Using Google Analytics and Google Sheets.

Andy schedules the report to run automatically every week:

Knowing which posts convert the highest can inform which content you promote even more. These tactics include:

  • Place the posts in a social-sharing rotation.
  • Link to them from your homepage.
  • Buy advertising to drive more traffic to the posts.
  • Place them in employees’ email signatures.

As for the lowest-converting posts? Consider taking them out of your social-sharing rotation and other promotion opportunities.

3. Which social media icon gets the most clicks?

Google Analytics proficiency: Advanced

Impact: Medium

In his presentation, when Andy asked how many people have social media icons in their website’s footer just about everyone raised their hand. When he asked if they knew which icon receives the most clicks, everyone put their hand down.

Do you know which #socialmedia icon in your footer gets the most clicks, asks @crestodina via @cmicontent. #analytics Click To Tweet

When website visitors click on a social media icon, they’re taken to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. – off the website. Here’s how Orbit Media does it:

To measure clicks to these social networks, Andy uses Google Tag Manager to track all off-site clicks. Get the step-by-step process in the Orbit Media post Where’d They Go? Track Every Exit Click Using Google Tag Manager in 10 Steps.

Here’s the result for Andy’s site:

Andy highlighted the social networks, which reveal the order:

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Facebook
  3. Twitter
  4. YouTube

Andy wasn’t expecting to see Facebook rank as high – it’s comfortably ahead of Twitter and YouTube. This result tells Andy his team may want to spend more time and attention on their Facebook presence.

Andy’s rule of thumb with this data is: “Remove the icons that don’t get clicked and get active on those social networks where your audience is active themselves.”

Remove the icons that don't get clicked and get active on social networks where your audience is active, says @crestodina via @cmicontent. #analytics Click To Tweet

4. Are visitors watching the videos embedded on your site?

Google Analytics proficiency: Advanced

Impact: Medium

Again, Andy polled the audience at his CMWorld presentation. Just about everyone published a video on YouTube and embedded it on their website. But only eight people knew which and how often videos get played.

Tracking of video views again involves Google Tag Manager. Orbit Media has a step-by-step post on the topic, How to Track Video Views in Google Analytics Using Google Tag Manager in 4 Steps.

Andy also shares an important fifth step in the post – create a segment in Google Analytics for viewers and non-viewers. With the segments established, the fun part begins. Go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages and select pages with an embedded video.

Answer questions like these:

  • What percentage of people are watching the video?
  • Are the video viewers less likely to bounce? How much less?
  • Do video viewers spend more time on the page? How much more?
  • Are video viewers more likely to convert (subscribe, become a lead, etc.)? How much more?

Here are the video findings from Orbit Media’s site:

The metrics show the impact of video, which can help defend resource allocation, budgets, etc. For Andy, the impact (as illustrated above) proves that the investment in video creation was worth it.

Action-driven analytics

Rarely do we speak to our website visitors, but they speak to us – in web analytics data. If we use data-driven empathy, as Andy calls it, then we can uncover challenges that we unintentionally created and get visitors on their merry way to driving business value.

With the four examples in this post, go discover what the data is trying to tell you and let it save you time in the future.

Here’s an excerpt from Andy’s talk:

You can get more practical advice to help your content marketing (that will save you time) at 2020 Content Marketing World this October. Learn more and register today.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Dennis Shiao

Dennis is an independent marketing consultant who works with brands on content marketing, product messaging, and social media marketing. Formerly, Dennis led the content marketing function at DNN Software. Dennis curates an email newsletter called Content Corner and publishes marketing-related content on Medium. Feel free to reach out to Dennis on Twitter @dshiao

Other posts by Dennis Shiao

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