If you own or manage a website, you likely know the power behind Google Analytics. While the powerhouse platform is still largely misunderstood, its vast capabilities allow business owners to monitor the success of their digital presence and online marketing efforts.
In truth, Google Analytics is a lot more robust than most people think. The platform provides comprehensive data tracking and analytical reporting to solve or improve almost any question or issue circulating within your business’ digital marketing efforts.
So, how does one use Google Analytics to solve issues or confusion that are hindering progress and goals? By asking the right questions, of course!
Question 1: How can I use Google Analytics data to track the progress of company goals?
Answer: Set up goals in Google Analytics.
The goals feature in Google Analytics allows users to track specific patterns and behaviors taken by users visiting the website. Goals can help account owners track contact form submissions, conversion rates on purchases, and more. By configuring goals, it becomes easier to monitor progress and discover what is hurting and helping the current strategy. Additionally, Google Analytics allows primary and secondary goal tracking, which are also labeled macro and micro conversions. Generally, there are five types of goals in Google Analytics:
Smart goals: Goals generated by Google Analytics when an account does not have enough data to complete optimization.
Destination goals: Loading a specific web page.
Pages per session: The number of pages viewed by a single user in a single session.
Event goals: Sharing, button clicks, adding items or services to a cart, etc.
Duration goals: Session times that last over a certain amount of seconds or minutes. For example, users on the page longer than two minutes.
Question 2: How can I use Google Analytics to better track the effectiveness of my email marketing campaigns?
Answer: Utilize the campaign tags feature.
Email campaign tracking is a bit different in Google Analytics than one might expect. With properly implemented campaign tags, account owners can track accurate referral data. However, without campaign tags, it becomes hard to accurately track a website’s referral data. For example, visits from desktop apps such as Outlook tend to appear as direct traffic in Google Analytics. Instead, this visit should be calculated as a referral. Similarly, visits from webmail providers that default to a secure server like Gmail also do not appear as referral traffic in Google Analytics. This small misunderstanding can lead to inaccurate data when tracking the success of email marketing campaigns.
Question 3: Is there a way to track how much of a blog post visitors are actually reading?
Answer: Yes, by installing Google Tag Manager.
Question 4: How can I more closely monitor transactions completed on my website?
Answer:Set up Ecommerce Tracking.
If you own an Ecommerce website, implementing Ecommerce tracking is essential if you would like to more closely monitor your website’s value. With Ecommerce tracking, website owners can see:
The total revenue generated by each product
Total number of products sold
Quantity of specific products sold
Number of unique purchases made
Average price per product
Average value of orders
Date wise performance data
Number of days and sessions leading to a transaction
By tracking these metrics, account owners can better assess the overall effectiveness of their marketing campaigns and the progress on their goals, thus leading to healthier conversion rates.
Question #5: Is there a way to find out what users are typing into Google before they visit my website?
Answer:Yes, by linking your Google Search Console and Google Analytics accounts.
Google Search Console is a free service that provides loads of vital insight for website owners, SEO specialists, and digital marketers. Once the Google Search Console is successfully linked to Google Analytics, account owners can better understand how their website is performing in organic search results on Google.
They may also better track which pages of the website are shown in search results, which pages are most visited, and who is visiting on desktop vs mobile. These metrics can help account owners better optimize their content to increase traffic from Google.
Having just completed the SEO (search engine optimization) traction channel, content marketing is fresh on the mind. As the founder of Pintler Group, I’ve always been a believer in content. It’s why early when we started with GeoFli marketing, we didn’t have ad-dollars to spend, so we had to get creative with articles. The product personalizes website content based on visitor location. I had read plenty of articles in 2015 and well before about what constitutes quality content. Of course, Google’s ranking factors seemed to change daily, but what never changed was the emphasis the search engine placed on quality content.
The Evolution of Content as a Ranking Factor:
As we mentioned in the SEO video last week, Google’s algorithm has certainly evolved to rank quality content content in a sophisticated way. No longer does keyword stuffing work. Sure, the way Google and Bing describe their ranking factors use words like search intent and did you meet the customer intent. What is customer intent? Simply put, customer intent asks if your article, video or podcast helps answer their query. The “Why” of the keywords.
What is Search Intent:
According to Blue Corona (marketing solution company, not a blue alcoholic beverage). There are four main types of search queries:
Known Query: Where the user wants information about something.
Example: What is the most durable iphone case?
Do Query: Where the user wants to take action on something.
Example: Fix a broken iphone screen.
Website Query: Where the user wants to go to a website.
Example: Apple Support Page
Visit-in-person Query: user wants to visit a physical address.
Example: Closest iphone repair shop.
All this is to quickly educate you on what it means to match user intent to an end piece of content.
How We Grew From Zero Visits to 100/Day
This headline wouldn’t sell books. 100 per day, that’s it? But for so many businesses, an additional 100 website visitors per day could mean serious revenue gains. When thinking about what 100 clicks from Facebook, Google and LinkedIn would cost in marketing each day, the monetary value of those clicks really ads up (to the tune of about $500/day if you average $5 per click).
Content + Inbound
Below is an example article we guest posted on Trello.com’s blog. We received some great traffic and referrals from the post, but perhaps more importantly, we gained valuable page authority with a link back to our site. A link equity tide that ultimately lifted all of our content-marketing-ships.
We started with content. As mentioned before, our budget for ads was zero because revenue from software sales was zero. We had to get scrappy. We originally knew that we wanted to target higher education with our software: personalize content for enrollment teams during the busy recruitment seasons.
Without too much thinking about SEO implications or meta-tags or descriptions, we started writing about the ways that we had grown digital marketing leads and traffic at the University of Montana. The information seemed on the razor edge of higher-ed marketing. Building custom audiences, retargeting based on inquiry email addresses and how to set up an Instagram ad the second week Instagram Ads were available to the masses. We just wrote about topics we found interesting and knew would help marketers paying attention to what was going on stand out.
Keyword Research and Content Marketing
Tip: sometimes keyword research can lead you down a competitive path. The allure of winning high traffic high competition keywords. Then there are times when writing articles about topics you’re adopting early means you might rank early for keywords that in the future will be competitive. Think: streaming service circa 2005. Google Search console is a valuable tool for identifying your current opportunities in content marketing.
As a result, we launched a lot of articles early. And the traction was slow. What we found, however, was that our traction during that time was slow because we were a little ahead of the keywords. Geofencing wasn’t popular. Website personalization wasn’t popular and geotargeting wasn’t a top search term. Today, that’s changed, and we positioned ourselves nicely.
Our Missoula based marketing firm, Pintler Group grew from a software-as-a-service we built , we had zero organic searches. Over the next two years, we were diligent about producing quality content. Articles about international admissions, articles about personalizing content and articles about Google Analytics tracking and much more. Slowly, we began to see traffic to the website increase organically. I credit a two pronged approach:
Number One: Quality Content:
We have a saying in-house that done is better than perfect. We’ve modified it to emphasize that perfect does not become the enemy of good. That being said, we took time to lay out exactly what we did that worked and how to replicate our systems. We introduced new ideas about geotargeting and we did write in a way that coincided with SEO best practices: internal and external linking.
Number Two: Inbound Link Strategy:
We wanted to make sure people found us. We wrote content but also understood that inbound links from other sites was going to be critical. To obtain links from other sites, we took an approach that included writing testimonials for software we used, contributing as guest authors to websites with page authority. Here’s an article we put together for Trello.
And here was an article written about us in the paper without a link, so we emailed and asked if they could kindly add one 🙂
And during this time we continued to write content and continued to think of ways to earn links to our site.
Below: here’s a look at GeoFli analytics landing page report. It shows most all of our top landing pages are articles we’ve written on /blog. Thousands of visitors finding our personalization software and marketing services through organic search.
What Does Content Marketing Cost:
As we grew and actually had, what do you call ’em? Oh yeah, customers. Time spent keeping customers happy trumped writing articles. Predictably, organic traffic plateaued. To try and keep momentum we began running Facebook Ad campaigns. Specifically, we ran Facebook Lead ads targeting higher ed professionals (but we still found time to write an article about targeting geographically on Facebook).
Facebook Ads vs. Content:
We measured lead quality based on traffic. What we found was 75% of leads from organic traffic were considered qualified: intent and ability to purchase software. Facebook generated leads were qualified about 25% of the time. The quality of leads from organic was 3X better than leads from Facebook. Given the choice to spend money on Facebook ads or writing content to drive qualified traffic through organic, I would choose content.
Content Writing and Content Marketing In-House Versus Contracting:
With GeoFli, we have tried both methods with varying levels of success and consistency. While in-housing is amazing for domain expertise and idea generation, it can easily become the thing that drops off the to-do-list because of other client or customer related tasks. What’s the saying, the cobbler’s kids have no shoes? We like to practice what we preach by writing content and improving our organic ranking, but it’s easy to get distracted.
With contractors, you pay for consistency. Each week, they’re tasked with delivering one or two articles, published on the site with a clear checklist. Oh, and here’s our checklist for internal content writing just in-case you were wondering! We have hired about five contractors to help with content writing: we deliver the article ideas in Trello and the content writer completes them in a Google Doc for review to be published.
How Much Does a Contracted Content Writer Make?
We would pay anywhere from $25/hr to $100/article. It usually ends up ultimately costing about $100/article for a contractor produce start to finish. At least that’s the going rate in Missoula, MT. What we started to find, was that the articles produced in-house simply performed better than those completed by contractors. The more time involved in an article, the better it performed. Content truly is king and there are no shortcuts to delivering a quality article. Recently we’ve used UpWork with some success in other contracted areas, but not content writing.
A Content Marketing Strategy That Works:
We’ve shifted away from writing specific geotargeting articles and instead focused on building up a content library for our agency site (this site!) Pintlergroup.com. We are getting very little organic traffic outside of branded search terms, but the consistency of our Content Thursday has really instilled some discipline into our content plan. We have a Trello card with each Traction channel for each week and we have a Google Sheet with the layout of all our Traction Channel goals. The vision for Content Thursday is at the end of 19 weeks, we have a robust collection of traction channels for our users to download via video, whitepaper and podcast.
Spend Money On Advertising or Spend Money on Content Marketing?
We like to say at Pintler Group, don’t celebrate publishing. We say this because too often we see a well thought out and beautifully executed piece of content go unseen. Remember than $15,000 video your company produced four years ago? How many views does it have on YouTube? Our content strategy is one we think is simple, but maybe because we’ve executed it so many times.
One: Write an article with one of your customer personas in mind.
Two: Publish article using our content writing checklist (see above)
Three: For many, step three is attend the closest happy hour.
This is what separates good marketing from great marketing: getting your content in front of the right audience. We use Facebook Ads, LinkedIn, Pintlerest, Google and other platforms to get a content article out into the world.
As you can see, the first three steps require money to be spent on both. Invest in the time to write the article and the ad dollars to promote. Oh, and don’t forget about email marketing!
Other Forms of Content Marketing
Content marketing is not just reserved for the 2,000 word blog post. Our team has invested heavily in content in Q2 and Q3 2019. We purchased video and podcasting equipment to produce simple tutorial videos in-house for clients and ourselves.
We’re scratching the surface of content marketing and a lot of smart marketers believe we’re in the golden age of content. We titled our podcast “Cutting Through the Noise.” There’s a lot of noise in marketing today. It’s time to double down on your content efforts and make the investment in people, quality and promotion. Good luck and let us know how we can help!
I continue to be impressed with the changes Google has made to Search Console in the last year. From an easier to manage user-interface to more robust data points for digital marketers to work with, any growing business looking to win on organic search should be taking advantage of this free software. Check out the video below for a quick screenshare of our favorite Search Console tactics.
If you’re not a career technical search engine optimization (SEO) professional, you might have logged into Search Console a couple years ago and thought: what the hell am I looking at? You’re not alone. While the platform held some truly powerful data like search position, ranking and trends, it was tough to find, difficult to decipher and riddled with industry acronyms. Though Having spent the last six years bouncing in and out of the different Google marketing products, Search Console remained an enigma. Until this year. It was too easy to glance at “organic traffic” referral in Analytics and see it improving month over month. I didn’t need to ask a ton of questions because there was always something more important to do.
Here’s a quick snapshot at the high level helicopter view metrics Google Search console can provide. Different than analytics (at least before connecting with Google Search Console), these metrics can give you info on interest before users ever reach your site. Imagine 50 fish swimming around your hook, Google Analytics tells you which fish you caught. Search Console lets you know which fish got away.
Google Search Console Investment:
The good news is, the application is free. The bad news, you’re going to need to put in some effort to like what you see on the dashboard. When the software side of our business, website personalization software GeoFli, started to get more and more leads from our website, it quickly became clear this was a result of our haphazard SEO efforts. Whoa. What if we spent time actually honing that effort and better understanding what keywords were driving the most qualified traffic. More importantly, what keywords are we ranking for in position 5, 6, 7 that we might be able to at.
If your customer acquisition looks like the flowchart below, SEO might be a good investment of time and resources. You can’t get users to your site, and they’re not converting once they’re there. But when you do acquire a customer, they stay for life. The key here is to use the early acquisition and activation strategies of content writing, SEO and other early marketing traction channels to acquire qualified traffic to your site.
Search Engine Optimization:
Where should SEO rank as a traction channel for your business? If you have $5,000 to spend on marketing, should you spend it on Facebook Ads, pitching at trade-shows or producing content to help your website rank? Our team loves investing in content that has a long lifespan. We call it evergreen. This includes simple video, articles and photos that add value to your customers’ lives. Remember, people go on the internet for one of two reasons: information or entertainment. If your content can do one of those two things, you’re leagues ahead.
Adjacent Traction Channels:
If you’re not getting a lot of site traffic, find someone that is. Now, it’s not going to work to reach out and beg: that’s kind of sad. Instead, find ways to add value (notice the trend here). We did this with our personalization software, GeoFli. We reached out to platforms we used like Mailchimp, Trello, MaxMind and Zapier and gave them a quick pitch about how their service really helped our company grow. We used some data, some flattering testimonials and some screenshots. Oh, and we included a back-link to our site in our paragraph. We were picked up by Trello and MaxMind and featured on their sites! To this day, those two back-links still refer traffic our way.
The reason this traction channel is adjacent to SEO is because inbound links are an important piece of any SEO strategy. Even if you don’t have a “strategy” but just want to climb the mountain to organic search one step at a time, targeting blogs with valuable insights and education on your area of expertise is a great way to do it.
Using Search Console to Select a Content Topic
As described in the video below, Google Search Console is a gold mine for figuring out what articles to spend time writing, and which ones to avoid. Unless you’re starting from a completely blank slate, you’ll be able to look at the queries your website is ranking for most often and tackle head on.
We like to look specifically at impressions compared to page position. In the screenshot below, our in-house personalization software, GeoFli, allows anyone to change website content based on location. There are a few things a user must understand before taking steps to purchasing a starter subscription. One is understanding their website traffic. “how to measure website traffic” is a great example of a keywords with a lot of impressions (500/month) that we’d like to own. And we’re currently ranking in position 13. I think we can improve that by writing some valuable content that meets user intent. See video for more info on how to navigate these screens.
Pro Tip # 2:
Improve organic click-through-rates by testing language. Phew, that’s a lot of marketing jargon. Take a look at the screenshot below. Both are in position 1.8 in search results (nice!) but one has a 32% click through rate (percentage of people that see the search result vs. click) and one has a 3.6% click-through-rate (CTR). The far right is position, green is CTR.
Use this opportunity to test the meta descriptions of the blog posts driving traffic. If you get 1,000 impressions and go from a 10% to a 20% click-through-rate simply by improving the title and meta description of your article, that’s an increase of 100 free website visitors a month!
Test out Google Search Console:
I’d highly recommend checking out Google Search Console for your business. The insights are extremely valuable and there are dashboards through Data Studio you can build, integrations with Analytics of course and you’ll be able to quickly see what users are searching for to land on your site.
If you’re looking to glean some of these insights, head to Google Search Console. Warning, verifying your site can sometimes be a headache. If you use Tag Manager, great. You’ll see the verification tag live on your site and it still will tell you it’s not added yet. You can verify with Analytics and that works about 25% of the time. Frustrating? As always we’re here to help. And as always, we hope you learned something.