Why do we even need Google Analytics?
First of all…
Why do we even use Google Analytics?
Maybe for part of the users, it’s phycological: website owners feel much better just by installing it. They might not use it at all, but having numerous pages of statistical data makes them feel content that they’ve already done something in order to improve that website.
Many of those website owners don’t know how to use GA in a proper way. And if that’s the case, they are wasting their time staring at the screen filled with GA’s data. Luckily, Google offers free courses, but not everybody has unlimited amount of time available.
Of course, there are some experts (who know the ins and outs of Google Analytics and SEO) and they try to do their best in order to optimize those websites and make them appear on the first page for different keyword searches. The truth is that nobody knows how Google Analytics works, so the recipe for success remains a secret (for now).
“And let’s call it what it is: professional guesswork based on experience in hitting an ever moving target that is altering the rules of the game itself.” — Tristan Denyer
But what can Google Analytics tell you?
Since it’s a traditional analytics tool, it basically focuses on measuring the key metrics of your site. These key metrics include your new visitors or users, their OS, the drop off rates, demographic data etc.
This tool puts the emphasize on the numbers and data, which are pretty essential, but it cannot solve all of your problems.
Google Analytics will answer all of your questions as long as they are WHAT questions.
Non-exhaustive list of data to acquire from Analytics report:
- Demographics (age and gender of your users)
- Interests (their affinity categories and in-market segments)
- Geographics (user language and location)
- Behavior of users (new/returning, their engagement and frequency)
- Technology (browser and OS used)
- Mobile (overview and devices)
- Benchmarking (different channels and locations)
- Acquisition (like traffic and campaigns)
- Behavior (flow, events, speed etc.)
- Conversions (goals, ecommerce and multi-channel funnels)
As I’ve said: as long as your question is about these aforementioned data, it will be answered by Google Analytics, but getting the answer out from the myriad of numbers is your job.
What if your question is not a ‘What’ question?
Let’s suppose you’ve analyzed the data and drawn the conclusion. Your visitors leave before purchasing, and they don’t visit an important subpage for some reason. You can tell that because the GA report shows it and you’ve successfully analyzed it.
But what to do with those numbers? What’s the next step?
In some cases, GA will discover the problem, or if you are lucky/experienced enough, you’ll figure it out by yourself. If that’s the case, you’re good to go.
The bigger issue is WHY do your users do what they do. If you can figure out the reason behind these actions/numbers, you’ll more likely find a solution too. Fortunately, there are tools for those issues too.
Visual analytics solutions will answer the questions about WHY do people do the things they do.
Visual analytics tools
What if I told you that you could even see your visitors real-time? These tools let you do that as if you were watching them over their shoulders. Take a look at this video to know what I’m talking about.
Deep-diving into user behavior is much easier than becoming a GA expert overnight. Using these tools can be much easier. Take a look at it and see it for yourself.
These visual tools are the following:
Different types of heatmaps:
Seeing the most active and inactive parts of a website can shed light on the most questionable sections of your page/menu bar/gallery etc.
- Click heatmaps for pinpointing the tricky parts of your website (for example there might be a picture without an embedded link, with people clicking on it without use, since there’s no real action happening there.)
- Scroll heatmaps for identifying the most engaging parts of your page(s). Do you have everything arranged in a way that they can see them before leaving?
- Segment heatmaps for seeing the behavior of different types of visitors filtered as you wish.
Seeing the users’ mouse movement first-hand can show crucial problems which you probably wouldn’t realize without seeing those playbacks.
For example, let’s say you filter and watch 10 playbacks of your users browsing your webshop (let’s suppose you are interested in the searching part right now). 8 of them had problems with the search field because it was too short. With the current features of Google Analytics, you could probably never clarify this problem.
It’s not an enormous problem to solve, but it can increase your sales funnel by improving your conversion rate, which will eventually result in more income. (If they leave before even reaching the second section of the funnel, you are losing them way before you should.)
Dashboard for the fans of numbers:
Don’t be sad, besides the aforesaid features, these tools often offer statistical data too. The most important numbers are shown in a digestible way so that everybody can observe them. Seeing these data on one page makes it easier to visualize them without having to click between several pages.
Taking a look at the peak hours of your website can tell you which hours have more traffic, which period is more popular and which period loads down your servers. The most crucial parts are represented on this dashboard, making it easier for companies to decide which would be the most rewarding area of a website to be developed.
Google Analytics might assist you, but in most cases, it’s not enough. Actively utilizing a visual analytics tool will surely improve your website.
“Being on Page 1 and having more customers click through is great, but if they are coming to a shitty website or get shitty service, they will leave and never come back. Your Page 1 rank may be a paper tiger, unable to withstand the rain.“ — Tristan Denyer
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