If you want to grow your blog or business, you need to know some things about your audience, right?
What are they interested in, where are they going, how many of them are there… you know, all the good stuff!
But how in the world do you find this out without interrogating them?
Easy – you use Google Analytics!
“But Jenn,” I hear you saying, “I don’t do the technology and coding stuff. How am I supposed to use Google Analytics? And what do I do with that information when I do get it?”
Hi friends, as you may have guessed, I have a guest blogger here today. Please welcome Jenn from The Spare Room Project and Unit 25, as we continue the conversation on getting to know our audiences.
I’m super excited about what she’s going to teach you here because I think that using Google Analytics to grow our blogs is so, so valuable to being successful online!
Before I turn it back over to her, you should know that some links in this post are affiliate links which just means that I earn a small commission if you make a purchase through that link (at no additional cost to you of course). Read my full disclosure here.
Back to Jenn…
Well, my friend, it’s not as hard as you think. First, you can sign up for the FREE Google Analytics 101 course,* which will help you get Google Analytics set up give you a start on making some sense of it. In the meantime, let’s talk about what kind of information you can get and what to do with it.
Audience Size and Pageviews in Google Analytics
The big question on many entrepreneurs’ minds is “how many people are coming to my site?” After all, this is often the first indicator of the ‘health’ of a website. If no one is coming, does anyone really care about your site? The numbers tell the story, right?
Maybe, maybe not. My friend Emily found that she was targeting the wrong audience for months when she evaluated her Google Analytics data. She tweaked some things based on what she found and her statistics improved dramatically!
As much as you may hear that ‘numbers don’t matter,’ they do – to some extent, at least. Emily’s number of pageviews and viewers weren’t bad, but she found that by targeting the correct audience, she improved those numbers even more, and thus the success of her business.
Other times, the numbers may be the first indicators of the need to re-evaluate aspects of your business model. If you’re not getting the numbers that you think you should be, you might need to look at your marketing practices or, like Emily, your target audience.
Either way, keeping an eye on your pageviews and viewers statistics* is a good practice. You don’t need to check on them every hour (trust me: I did that for a while, and it’s SO stressful!), but you might want to check on them every Monday or every weekend, or if you’re a little obsessive like me, every evening.
If you see a huge spike or dip, it could be an indicator of something critical, like a crashed website server, or it might be just a slow week. Better to be safe than sorry, though, so keep an eye on those stats!
The Who and the Where of Your Audience
Okay, so you know how many people are coming to your site. Whoo-hoo! This is where the ‘numbers don’t matter’ philosophy comes into play, though. If you don’t know who those visitors are and what they’re looking for, then you won’t know where to find other people like them or what to share with them.
Once you understand your audience demographics, you can better connect with them. What if you’ve been targeting a young adult (say 18-24 year old) demographic, but find that most of your viewers are in the 25-44 year old bracket? These age ranges hang out in different places online, so you might be completely missing your true target audience! Knowing something as simple as how old your viewers are can completely change the game.
Knowing what kinds of things your viewers are interested in can help too. Maybe you talk about craft projects on your blog and find that a significant portion of your viewers are also interested in gardening. (Yep, you can find this out in Google Analytics!)* You could use this information to create a Gardening board on Pinterest, which would complement your crafts boards and draw in more of your target audience.
The other important aspect of your audience demographics is learning where they’re coming from.* Now, I don’t mean what country (although that can be important too), but how they’re finding your site online. Maybe they’re coming through Pinterest or Google; maybe they found your site through an article you posted on Twitter or Reddit. Knowing where to focus your marketing efforts can save you hours upon hours of wasted time!
Finding Your Best and Worst Pages with Google Analytics
If you want to optimize your site, you’ll need to know which pages and/or posts are getting the most and least views.* This can be a gauge of what you should focus on. Let me show you how!
First things first: your best performing pages. These are your superstars, those posts or pages that are drawing in viewers like no other. Why does this matter?
Well, for starters, you can increase your promotion of those pages, because if they’re already popular, you’ll be helping them spread even further and faster, to build your email list and gain followers.
Oh, you say you don’t have an opt-in incentive or anything like that for your popular post(s) that you just found? That’s another reason to find your best pages: you then know where to place opt-in incentives, invite readers to your community (e.g. a Facebook group, like Marianne’s), and all sorts of awesome things like that!
You’ll also want to find which of your posts or pages are NOT performing well. Did you write a post a few months ago that you just knew would be an instant hit? You might be surprised to find that the post isn’t performing as well as you’d expected. This happens to the best of us.
There are many reasons that could be behind this. A similar post could have come out around the same time and caught on first, making yours seem like a copycat. Or maybe your audience just isn’t interested. If you’ve been putting a lot of effort into promoting this post, this data could tell you to either ditch the promotions or to rewrite it to appeal more to your audience.
There are lots of contributing factors to the performance of particular posts and pages on your website. Delve into them a little more and find the causes as best you can. Then do the work and take action on what you find! It could make all the difference in your business’s growth.
What are Your Traffic Paths?
The Users Flow report looks like a bowl of spaghetti at first, but once you know what you’re looking at, it is a veritable GOLD MINE of information. For example, Ruth thought that her sales funnel was a flop… until she looked at her Analytics. It turned out that it was her sales page that was dropping the ball, and she was able to turn things around based on what she found in Google Analytics.
When you know where readers are going on your site, you can optimize it to make it easier for them to go to your end goal. If you have a particular sales or services page that you want them to view, look at how people are getting there. Try rearranging your navigation menu to subtly lead them down this path.
If readers are not making it to your end goal consistently, then you may need to re-evaluate how your site is set up and how you’re moving them towards the intended path. Do you need to link back to your own posts and pages more often? Are you giving your readers a clear call-to-action? Is your website design just not cutting it, and people are leaving because of it? (Marianne can help with that)!
Sometimes it may require a bit of thought to get to the bottom of what’s going on, but you can always feel free to ask in the Google Analytics 101 Facebook group.
Want to learn more?
This is just scratching the surface of what Google Analytics can do! If you’d like to learn more, check out the Google Analytics 101 and Conquer Google Analytics!* courses.
Conquer Google Analytics! also has a VIP version, which gives you access to a private, course-specific Facebook group and personalized support while you learn the ropes of Google Analytics. The VIP option is only available a few times a year, but you can upgrade your course enrollment when that rolls around, so that you don’t have to wait to get started in Google Analytics. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line!
I’d love to hear in the comments if you’ve ever used Google Analytics before, and if not, what’s held you back? If you have used it before, what’s your favorite thing about it?
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