Analytics for Comms Professionals

A vital part of looking after your website involves an ongoing analysis of how well it is performing.

John Newton's picture
John Newton
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A vital part of looking after your website involves an ongoing analysis of how well it is performing. I think most communications professionals these days spend some time every month looking at the stats. These are often used in reporting to senior management teams. They answer questions such as - how well is our site doing? This involves looking at the general trend (up, down, stable) and perhaps reviewing how well a recent campaign is going.

This is fine so far as it goes but it’s often the case that site statistics are not used pro-actively enough. Key concepts which are sometimes ignored include the bounce rate (how many people arrive at the site and immediately leave), which pages on the site are seldom visited, which search terms are people using to reach the site, what are the most common journeys people take on the site and so on. These sorts of statistics takes a bit of digging into just to find in Google Analytics and pose a number of questions such as: how well does our content reflect the keywords people use to find us, are some pages buried too far into our site or are they even relevant, are our social media or email marketing campaigns successful and where are our points of weakness?

This kind of review takes time. Communications professionals are busy people and very often the pressure to create management reports leads to an attitude that if something straightforward to understand such as visitor numbers looks fine (eg stable or showing a slight increase), then everyone is happy. However, satisfying management reporting needs is very different from striving towards continuous improvement on your website. I would suggest that each month a review of your analytics should provide an opportunity for implementing at least one or two improvements to your website - either through some rewording of content or restructuring poorly performing pages. We provide more significant quarterly site reviews as part of our maintenance plan and this can be used as a vital part of re-energising your website. It provides a planned opportunity to step back from the everyday requirements for content and campaigning to look at the big picture. It can be an ideal way of making thoughtful improvements based on spending a bit more time with your Google Analytics data. I won’t pretend that understanding and using Analytics data to improve your website’s performance is an easy task and day-to-day time pressures often make this difficult to carry out. However, putting aside a half day each quarter will give you with the space to dig into your reports in more detail and plan improvements for the coming months. This approach will provide significant and measurable benefits over the course of the year.

Top 5 most useful reports in Google if you are in a hurry

  1. Audience Overview - first option under the Audience dropdown. The vital first stop overview of general user traffic.
  2. Acquisition Overview - first option under the Acquisition dropdown. How are people find and coming to your site.
  3. Landing Pages - third option in the Site Content option under Behaviour tab. The first place people are encountering your website. Dig into the sources to find out more about your site’s performance on Google, social media and so on.
  4. Behaviour Flow - the second option under the Behaviour tab. Review the journeys your users are making through your site and pinpoint pages where they leave you.
  5. All Pages - the first option under Site Content within the Behaviour tab. Focus on individual pages and how they are performing.

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