In the last post I discussed the first part of your online marketing tool-kit, namely the tools of Twitter, Facebook and a website/blog as a minimum. There are of course countless other social media tools such as LinkedIn, Google+ etc. How many you use is a matter of personal choice, and time. But if we say the purpose of all this activity, is to eventually sell more books, we need to know what is, and what isn’t working.
Lord Lever Hulme once remarked – ‘I know half of my advertising works . . . but I don’t know which half it is.’ This is the biggest problem with marketing, most especially those marketing activities which cost money. It is very easy to spend money, and see absolutely no return for that investment. (I’ll cover the cost versus return in another article)
With so much sold online these days, and I’m thinking here specifically about e-books, a web presence is essential, and a website/blog is one of the essential tools. You can have a free blog such as Blogger, which won’t cost you anything for a domain name or server hosting – or you can go to the other extreme and have a bespoke site built and managed by a webmaster. Plus there are many options in between. Regardless which you choose you’ll still need to measure what is going on. Unless having a website is for vanity reasons, they need to work for you. The best tool for measuring online activity is Google Analytics. Blogger, for example, does have a certain amount of statistics, but Google Analytics is the real powerhouse in terms of measuring website activity. These days, just knowing the number of hits the website receives simply isn’t enough.
Google Analytics is a supremely effective tool for measuring a website’s activity. And even better news – it’s absolutely FREE!
So how does it work? Well, the first thing you need to do is attach some very specific “html” code to each page of your website (or just on the Master page, if you have one). Again, the good news is that Google will have automatically written the code for you when you sign up to use the service, and they’ll give you all the instructions required to insert it. To access Google Analytics just click here.
What does Google Analytics tell me?
Once you have set up your free account you can start analysing the data Analytics generates for you. The data is updated every day and you will be taken to your home page each time you log on. It is possible to manage several websites simultaneously within Google Analytics. All the websites you manage will be listed on the home page. By selecting “view reports” you will be taken to your “dashboard”. I don’t have the scope within this article to cover all the functionality of Google Analytics but I can provide a flavour of its power.
The dashboard is where you choose what you want to view immediately you select “view reports”. The default provides the following information:
Audience Overview – A graph shows you day by day the total number of hits the website has received. Below the graph, there is other data, including – total number of pages viewed, average number of pages viewed per visit, bounce rate (the percentage of people who left the site from the same page they entered the site without visiting any other pages), the average time each visitor spent on the site and the percentage of people who visited the site for the first time. All that information in itself is very powerful, but as you’ll discover there is a great deal more to come.
Real Time – This provides data on what is happening right now on your website
Audience – This is the default data, as described above. You can also drill down into areas such as demographics, behaviour and technology.
Traffic Sources – This element provides information on how your visitors arrived at your site. Was it direct traffic (those that type your web address into the address bar), search engines (and it tells you which ones) or from referring sites. This last one is especially important. The more sites that are linked to your site the more important Google considers your site. Think about all the sites that you have visited that offer you a download as a PDF (portable document format) file. Adobe are the creators of PDF files and as Adobe Acrobat Reader is used to read these files many sites provide a link to Adobe’s website where the free Acrobat Reader software can be downloaded. Adobe therefore have millions of referring sites across the Internet, making them a very important site as far as Google are concerned. Also within this section Analytics will tell you the keywords used, by those visitors that used a search engine, to find your site. This is invaluable data when trying to optimise your site for search engine visibility.
Content – This section provides deeper analysis on which specific pages have been visited. Look for the pages that have very high bounce rates and short periods of time spent on them. This may suggest that the visitor is not finding the page of interest – time for some action to help boost its ratings!
As we have already seen the default dashboard is a gold mine of useful information about what is happening on your website. However, other aspects of website activity may be more important to you. As Google recognise this fact they have structured Analytics to provide you with a dashboard that can be customised. I’ll be doing more Google Analytics articles in the future to look at some features in more detail.
So that is a quick guide to some of the functionality of Google Analytics. It’s intuitive, it’s powerful, it will add value to your web marketing initiatives and above all else – it’s FREE!
One final point – you should use Google Analytics to track how you your visitors get to the site and use the site. Don’t corrupt your data with activity from internal laptops and PCs. Make sure you use the Analytics filter to ensure that internal visits to your website are not included in your data collection. Each computer attached to the Internet has its own IP (Internet Protocol) address. If you wish to know the IP address of each computer then log on to www.whatismyip.com and it will provide you with the number, which is supplied in four blocks, such as: 188.8.131.52
You will need to type the number into the Google Analytics filter. This process should be done for each computer connected to the internet.