Google Analytics – The Devil’s in the Details

Google Analytics is an immensely powerful tool that can provide detailed insights into the success of your website: how many visitors, where they’re coming from, what they’re doing on your site, whether they’re engaging (and if so, how deeply) whether they convert and when they leave your site.

Web Analytics Illustration
Published: 8.13.2015

Data is information, but knowledge is power—and knowledge comes only from applying context: you have to understand what you’re looking at and what it means. You may be thrilled to see your site’s getting thousands of visitors, but if those visitors aren’t engaging or converting (and we’re defining converting in this case as responding to your call to action), then those visitor numbers don’t matter.

So what stats do you use to measure your site’s effectiveness? The answer will vary depending on the type of site and its purpose. Start by reviewing your objectives—what are you trying to achieve?

  • Are you generating awareness on a topic important to your business?
  • Selling a product?
  • Promoting a new service?
  • Getting registrants for your next webinar?
  • Recruiting candidates?

Your objectives will drive what metrics matter for an accurate picture of your site’s effectiveness.

Let’s look at the example of a corporate recruiting website. Its objectives are to communicate the company’s employer brand, engage great candidates who are a good cultural fit, and drive quality applications. In addition to multiple job board partnerships, the company also has an active social recruiting campaign and is running Facebook ads.

In this case, the metrics to consider include the number of visitors, page views per session, bounce rate, and conversion (number of visitors who apply). That’s simple enough, but how do you measure how effectively you’re communicating your employer brand?

One way is to track the page views for content pages, especially the culture pages, as well as user pathways through the site (you’ll need to use flow visualization reports for this). How many users who review content pages go on to apply? How many users leave the site from the culture pages? Finally, what’s the quality of applications you’re receiving? Is it increasing or declining? (This last bit you’ll have to do outside of Google Analytics of course—but it’s a critical data point!)

Next we want to measure the effectiveness of our job board partnerships, so we’ll look at traffic sources. How many visitors are coming from each job board? How many are coming from search engines? How many are coming in through social media channels?

A final metric to review is beyond Google Analytics, but is a key indicator of site effectiveness: are the candidates applying the ones you want? Are they a good cultural fit? Do they join your organization, and do they stay? If not, it might be time to consider your employer brand and how you’re communicating it – but that’s a topic for another post.

Are you using Google Analytics to measure the right things? Do you know if your site is hitting your objectives? Is it generating a return on investment? Contact us, and let’s talk about how we can improve your site’s effectiveness and measure your ROI accurately.

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