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Understanding Data 101: Google Analytics

Having a beautiful website, killer marketing strategy and fantastic referral program is not enough for a business to succeed. Like all great campaigns and business endeavors, you need to establish KPI’s (key performance indicators) and measurable metrics so you can gain insight into your business, optimize what isn’t working and double down what is working. Data can come in all types of formats.  Google Analytics is just one of them, but a very powerful (and free) one for that matter!

What is Google Analytics?

Analytics, in its simplest sense, is the information collected and analyzed on your website. Google Analytics is a tool designed to be used with websites, apps and other online tools to track traffic, conversion, audience demographics and so much more. It helps you understand your visitors behaviors, where they are coming from, what they are looking at and at what point do they leave your site.

When looking at your Google Analytics data, it’s normal to feel extremely overwhelmed. That’s because there is a lot of information, and Google keeps adding functionality, so if you are not well versed in Analytics now, make sure you spend the time to understand it and utilize the free tool. The list below is just some of the top metrics you should be keeping an eye out. Use this guide to determine which metrics are most important to track.

Step 1. Install Google Analytics

Even if you feel you are not ready to begin analyzing your website data, you’ll want to begin collecting the data so when you are ready, you’ll have an abundant source of information to analyze. Depending on what kind of software your website is on, you have different ways to install Google Analytics to your site. If you have a WordPress site, there are a handful of easy-to-use plugins available. Once you select one, register for a new account here: https://www.google.com/analytics/. Once you complete all the prompts, you’ll be presented with a Tracking ID and Tracking Code.

If you don’t have a WordPress site, you can still register on Google and implement the tracking code on all your pages in the <head></head> section of your pages. The tracking javascript code will look something like this:

You can also implement Google Tag Manager (GTM) on your site. This is best if you have many analytics and tracking tags such as Facebook Pixel, Twitter Pixel, etc. It’s especially useful if you use multiple analytics and ad performance tracking tools.  

Step 2. Get Familiar With The Dashboard

Before diving into the various reports, it’s useful to understand how to use the Dashboard. Spend some time to play around with the navigation, different views and various options.

The analytics “Home Page” gives you an overview of Users, Revenue (if applicable), Sessions, Bounce Rate along with more detailed metrics such as:

  • Current active users
  • Users by time of day
  • How users are coming to your site
  • Location of your users
  • What pages your users are visiting
  • Your retention rate
  • And any customizable items you have added

The left hand column is your main navigation to all your reports, customized views and “Discover” section which is your tool belt for advanced help on Google Analytics.

Step 3. Understand Which Analytics Reports You Need

New Vs. Returning Visitor

The Audience > Overview report gives you insight into how many visitors are on your site for a certain time frame (which is entirely customizable). 

The main report gives you the following information:

  • Sessions – the period of time when a user is actively engaged with your site
  • Users – users who have initiated at least one session during the specific time range
  • Pageviews – this is the total number of pages viewed with repeated views counted
  • Pages/Session – this is the average number of pages viewed during a session.
  • Avg Session Duration – the average length of a new session
  • Bounce Rate – the percentage of a single-page session in which a user had no interaction (i.e. a visitor landed on the page and left immediately).
  • % of New Sessions

Another noticeable data point is the percentage of new versus returning visitors. This is important for a variety of reasons. The first, you want repeat visitors. If people are coming back to your site, you are doing something right. Second, it is helpful to know how returning visitors are interacting with your website. Naturally, it will be much different than first-time visitors. In order to improve the experience for both first-time visitors and returning customers, you must isolate the conversion rates. This helps you determine the usability and overall experience of both types of visitors.

Source for Incoming Traffic

Go to Acquisition > Overview to see all the channels your visitors are coming through whether it’s organic search results, direct website hits, referrals, paid search or other mediums. You can drill further for more specifics and ideally your website would have incoming traffic from a variety of sources. Understanding the sources is very important because they have different levels of conversion. Because of this, you should be calculating how much traffic each individual source is converting and take action based on that.

Bounce Rate

Among the many goals of your website, one important one is to reduce the bounce rate. A bounce is when someone comes into your site and leaves without going anywhere else, or is inactive on that page for more than 30 minutes. Having a high bounce rate can mean several different things such as:

You can find your bounce rate all throughout the Analytics Dashboard but the most important one is differentiating the bounce rate between New Users vs Returning Visitors which you can find at Audience > Behavior > New Versus Returning

If you have a high bounce rate for new visitors, consider optimizing your pages for optimal conversion. Blogs tend to have a higher bounce rate because visitors often visit in order to read one certain blog and don’t take any further actions. When you create a post, create a ‘title tag’ so Google can figure out what the content is about. If you see your site is getting traffic that’s not relevant to what your site is about, you should start updating your content with ‘title tags’ so they are true representations of the actual content.

The main goal when trying to increase the value per visit, interactions per visit, return visitor conversion and traffic sources is to minimize the bounce rate of visitors. Keep a close eye on this data point and adjust accordingly until the number is lowered.

Lead Generation Costs (Cost Per Conversion)

This is one of the more important metrics but often miscalculated. Marketers and law firms who use cost per lead and ROI data must be calculating lead generation value. If you have a high cost per conversion, it won’t matter if your website is bringing in high conversion rates with a high value per visit. It means your net income will be zero or worse, negative. When calculating accurate per lead value, you first need to understand that Google Analytics has two main types of conversions: transactions and goals. More often than not, law firms will use goals to track conversions. Goals are meant to record a type of behavior that your law firm deems important.

Each goal can be assigned a value, which Google Analytics uses to calculate metrics like page value, per visit value and ROI. It’s important to assign the value of a goal as accurately as possible. Return on Investment is calculated with the following equation:

((Conversion Value – Advertising Cost) / Advertising Cost) x 100 = ROI

Proper calculation requires two metrics: average close lead value (Integer) and close rate (percent). The main goal with this calculation is to equally distribute an amount of revenue generated from a type of closed lead to all leads captured for the lead type. When you are trying to increase conversion rates on your website, you need to keep this metric in mind, as well as overall margins. If this number becomes problematic, make sure your calculations are correct and re-evaluate where necessary.

Exit Pages

Often, a law firm’s website’s final call to action (or conversion) will be on the second or third page of the visitor journey. Exit pages indicate at which stage of the process your visitors are leaving the website. When you figure this out, you can adjust your site or user flow accordingly. You can even conduct A/B testing to see which user flow or landing pages are best at converting.

Keep in mind that the steps to complete your call to action (or business goal) should only be 2-3 pages long in the journey. When the process exceeds that it becomes too complicated. Make it easy for your visitors to contact you and take the action you desire.

In Conclusion

Google Analytics is a very powerful tool all law firms should be leveraging. But understanding all this data can certainly be overwhelming! To start, just pick out one to three statistics that are especially important to your business and master these. Then you can begin exploring more of the functionality. There is no shortage of data to track but once you know which ones are most important, you can begin have better clarity and insight into your business. If you feel overwhelmed with understanding Google Analytics, consult an experienced digital marketer who understands data.