There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. – Mark Twain
While Mark may have a point, Google Analytics has a few hidden gems that I’m going to share with you today – three, actually.
1. New opportunities
This one seems a bit obvious, but unless you know what to look for you may miss it.
First of all, you’ll need to filter your traffic by non-paid Search Traffic, and view your organic search keywords.
Sort your keyword list in ascending order by Average Time on Site. So you’ll have 00:00:00 at the top, and be looking at keywords for products/services that generate traffic, but that your website doesn’t actually offer*.
For example, you may own a car rental company, and your website is receiving some traffic for bus, van or truck rental search queries. That’s traffic your website can’t sell to or engage with; in other words, it’s worthless. However, if you start catering for these products/services, you’ll be able to put that traffic to lucrative use.
Obviously, buying a fleet of buses just to capitalise on this search traffic is probably not a good business decision (unless the traffic is significantly high). What you could do is try to capture these visitors’ details through an enquiry form, and then resell them as leads to a bus rental company! Why waste good traffic, right?
*Lies: It may not always be possible to turn these into new opportunities, but may highlight areas of your site that need tweaking improve your visitors’ experience.
2. What your visitors want
If you don’t know what they’re looking for, you can apply the technique above and find out. For instance, if people are finding your site searching for a Returns Policy, and that page has a very low Time On Site, there’s a good chance that you aren’t meeting their needs*.
By knowing what people are looking for, you can tailor your next blog post, PR release, newsletter, or TV advertisement to satisfy your visitors.
Enabling Site Search is also an excellent way to discover what people are actively trying to find on your site. While we all want to put our high ticket items in the front window (or homepage), often people are looking for bargains instead of for expensive stuff. This is equivalent to putting your most requested product “somewhere out the back”, rather than on the showroom floor with giant arrows pointing to it.
*Damned Lies: Except if your returns policy is only one or two sentences long, then a low Time On Site is what you would expect.
3. Identifying your most profitable online channel
So, is SEO or PPC making you more money?
An accurate analysis goes far beyond simple monthly conversions. Imagine the following scenario:
I click a banner ad somewhere, visit a website, and then leave. Three weeks later, I get a pay raise, so I search for and return to that website and buy a $250 watch.
Traditionally, this would be attributed as a search conversion, even though it was a banner ad that first brought me to the site.
The secret is the Assisted Conversions area of Analytics: go to Multi-channel funnels -> Assisted Conversions -> First Interaction Analysis. You’ll see information that looks like this:
First Click Conversion Value attributes a transaction/goal conversion to the very first source used to find your site.
Last Click Conversion Value shows you the final source that lead to the sale/goal conversion.
Here’s a simpler explanation:
First Click Conversion: Drove them to the site.
Last Click Conversion: Made the sale.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the Paid Search data (second row in the table above).
First Click Conversion Value: $1,248.00. This revenue generated from PPC driving people to the site.
Last Interaction Conversion Value: $0.00. This is where it gets interesting! PPC in this case doesn’t close any final sales. It does, however, drive a good deal of traffic that later converts through other means.
The older version of Google Analytics would have reported the Paid Search Revenue as $0. Now, with the new Assisted Conversion report, we can see that its true value is in generating the lead, not closing the deal.
Conversely, the Direct Traffic row shows that this channel doesn’t sell well on its own, but is an excellent closer for traffic that’s come through other channels.
So what does this mean for you? Well, if you previously thought a specific campaign wasn’t performing – change what you’re measuring and surprise yourself*!
Or not, if the campaign actually isn’t performing …
*Statistics: They’re your friend! Just be sure to look at them regularly, and analyse them correctly.