How to Use Google Analytics To Grow Your Small Business
So you’ve invested time and/or money in your small business website, and I’ll bet that you’re investing more every month in social media, blogs, email marketing, and maybe even some ads! You know you need to market your business to scale, but how can you know if you’re spending your resources effectively?
One of the first things I do with new clients is to evaluate where they’re spending time and money, and how much revenue or benefit those activities are bringing to their business.
All too often I come across someone who spends 10+ hours per week on one channel (for example, Instagram) and when you look at the data, that’s bringing in 10% of their business. Whereas 2 blog posts they wrote a year ago and haven’t looked at are bringing in 30-50%.
What does that have to do with Google Analytics? Well, you can use this amazing (and free!) website analytics tool to measure what is and isn’t working in your online marketing strategy.
Your website is the centre of all of your online marketing. People may find you on Instagram, through ads, or perhaps affiliates— but they will then come to your site to learn about you, your business, and what you offer. In many cases, this is also where they buy which means it’s even more important. For others, it captures their lead information and sends them down a sales funnel.
Using a tool like Google Analytics to measure how people got to your site and what they did when they were there, will give you invaluable information for your marketing strategy so you know that you are investing your limited time and resources where they are best serving your business.
Table of Contents
- How small business owners can get the most out of Google Analytics
- Where is your traffic coming from?
- Other things you can do in Google Analytics
- You’re ready to make moves for your marketing!
How small business owners can get the most out of Google Analytics
If you’re here, that means that you have already set up Google Analytics, and you waited at least a month for data to accumulate. If that’s not you— save this post for later, and check out the How to Set Up Google Analytics post!
So you excitedly log into Google Analytics and start clicking around, and instantly are thinking “how in the world am I supposed to make sense of the information in here?”
I hear you. There is SO much data in there and it’s not exactly beginner-friendly. Sure, you can take some online courses to learn, but your time is much better spent serving your customers.
I recommend narrowing in on these key reports (and I’ll show you exactly where to find them). With a little business sense, you can get some valuable insights about your marketing.
These reports will help you answer the following questions:
- Where is your website traffic coming from?
- Which pages on your site get the most traffic?
- Which pages bring the most traffic to your site?
- What is driving conversions on your site?
Where is your traffic coming from?
You know that in order to grow your business, you need to reach new people! Maybe that means you’re spending time on Instagram every day engaging and posting great content, maybe you’re writing (or paying someone to write) SEO blog posts, or maybe you’re investing in some ads.
There are lots of ways to reach new customers, but how do you know what’s actually working?
First, consider what your end goal is. Is it to submit a lead form? Purchase from your site? Hopefully, you’ve set up conversions to track this in Google Analytics, but if not, you can still use this report. You’ll have to base your decision on the traffic levels instead of conversions.
You’ll want to navigate to the Channels Report (Under Acquisition > All Traffic). It’ll break down all of your site traffic into some big buckets, tell you how many people (users) came via that platform, and it’ll tell you some other key metrics for each.
What do the different channels mean?
- Organic Search: Anyone who came to your site from a search engine (like Google, Bing, etc.) through an organic link (not an ad). If you’ve been focusing on search engine optimization (SEO) you would hope to see that this channel is performing well.
- Referral: Any traffic that came to you from another website that doesn’t fall into any of the other categories. If you write guest blog posts, were featured on a podcast or other website, or if you’re listed in any directories you may see regular referral traffic. You can also click the word “referral” on this report to see the other sites that send traffic to your site.
- Social: Any traffic from social media platforms. If you are running ads on social platforms and don’t set up UTM campaign tagging, it’ll include both your organic and paid social.
- Direct: Traffic that goes straight to your website. This can mean that the person bookmarked it, they typed the URL directly into their browser. Sometimes, your email marketing traffic can get lumped in here if you haven’t done an intentional job of UTM campaign tagging.
- Paid Search: Traffic that came through a search engine (like Google, Bing, etc) through an ad.
How to tell which channel is performing well (or not well)?
If you have conversions set up
Use the drop-down beside “Conversions” in the table header to toggle between which conversion you care most about (purchases, add to carts, lead form submissions, or just “all goals”).
It then breaks down which channel brought in the most conversions, or which one has the highest conversion rate.
Ask Yourself: Is one channel bringing in significantly more conversions than any others?
If yes, then it’s important to note that your business is very reliant on that channel. Is it something like organic traffic or email that you own and is relatively stable? Is it something like ads or social media that are a bit more volatile and require constant feeding? That’s important to know when you’re budgeting and planning future marketing plans.
Ask Yourself: Which channels have the highest and lowest conversion rate?
A channel that has a high conversion rate is performing well and bringing quality traffic to your website. That’s a channel that you may want to invest more into to grow your business. A channel that has a low conversion rate means that you may want to look into improving and optimizing that channel, or re-allocating your resources to other channels that are performing better (as long as it’s not a channel that you’re reliant on for conversions).
If you do not have conversions set up
Unfortunately, you won’t have a full picture of the performance, but you can look at a few other metrics to get a general idea!
Ask Yourself: Which channels bring in the most traffic?
Does most of your traffic come from one or two channels? That means your strategy is heavily reliant on those channels continuing to work for your business which can be dangerous. If this is the case for you, you’ll want to think about how you can grow other channels so you have a more sustainable marketing strategy.
Ask Yourself: Do any channels have a significantly lower bounce rate?
Your bounce rate is the % of people who visited one page on your site and then left immediately after. Most websites want visitors to click through a few pages to learn more about them (or to convert). So if some of your channels have a really high bounce rate, those people don’t seem to be as engaged with your website. If some channels have a high bounce that tends to mean that you’re not getting quality traffic from that channel.
Which pages on your site get the most traffic?
For most businesses, this is the homepage. But sometimes, the other top-viewed pages will surprise you! Sometimes it’s an old blog post you forgot you even wrote or a page on your site that you don’t keep up to date.
You’ll want to navigate to the All Pages Report (Under Behaviour > Site Content).
The first thing I want you to do is to use the little “expanding box” icon beside each page URL. This will open these pages in a preview tab. Scroll through each page and make sure that all the content & information on those pages is correct.
The last thing you want is for your site visitors to see out of date or incorrect information!
Then, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the Average Time on Page align with what I expect people to be spending on my important pages? If you have a long-form blog post, are people spending 5+ minutes, or are they spending 30 seconds? Take special note of any pages that have shorter than 30 seconds, does it make sense for that page? Is this an important page? If they’re not spending as long as you want, what can you add to the beginning of that page or post to encourage them to engage more? A video? A more compelling intro?
- Do any pages have a really high % Exit rate? Which pages tend to send people away most often? What improvements can you make to those pages to encourage them to use the call-to-action on that page instead of leaving? Note, that if you send customers to a different website to convert (maybe a calendar booking site or payment processing site) this metric will not be accurate as it’ll count those as exits.
Which pages bring the most traffic to your site?
This report is especially important for businesses who use blogging or SEO to drive new traffic to their website.
One mistake many people make is assuming that all traffic enters their site from their homepage. And lots of people will. But if you have an SEO strategy in place and/or a blogging strategy— you should see traffic entering from your blogs and your SEO-optimized landing pages.
To find out which pages (or posts) are bringing in the most traffic, check out the Landing Pages Report (Under Behaviour > Site Content).
Check out the pages there with lots of sessions, are there any surprises? Again, do all those pages have accurate and up-to-date information? On this report, ask yourself the following questions:
- Which pages are bringing in the most sessions & new sessions? Do all those pages have clear call-to-actions so your visitors know where they should go next?
- Do any of these pages have a really high bounce rate? Remember, your bounce rate is how many people visit only one page and then leave. If any pages have a really high bounce rate, consider what optimizations can you make to those pages to better engage them so they click your call-to-action. Note: if the call-to-action takes them to another domain (like a booking page or payment processing page), those will show as an exit so the bounce rate will look higher than it is.
Other things you can do in Google Analytics
This is just a small taste of all the magic that you can learn from Google Analytics. For many small businesses, this is more than enough for the early stages while you’re DIYing your marketing and sorting out your systems.
But at some point, you’re going to want to start taking your business to the next level. And when you start thinking about scaling, you may start considering…
- Hiring a contractor to support one or two marketing channels, BUT you want to make sure that the $ you’re investing is actually paying off in revenue.
- Investing in a professionally designed & developed website, BUT that’s a big investment and you want to be sure it is worth it.
- Experimenting with new content or channels. Maybe that’s making some YouTube videos, maybe it’s launching a course, BUT you’re not sure how that fits into your existing strategy and how to connect it to your website.
You probably guessed it… but Google Analytics (with the help of a trained professional) can get you those answers!
The setup will look a bit different for each website, so you’ll want to reach out to a specialist to set things up for you, but the end result is worth it. You’ll have complete clarity and confidence that what you’re spending time, energy, and money on is actually driving revenue. If this is something you want, it’s something we offer! Book a complimentary consultation and we’ll walk you through how it works.
You’re ready to make moves for your marketing!
First, give yourself a pat on the back for taking the time to make your business better, and more strategic. Every time you digging into your data and learn more about your customers, you are putting yourself in a better position to grow.
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