“I don’t have an online store, why should I use a program like Google Analytics,” is a question we hear a lot.. It comes all the way from the business novice to the seasoned CEO, and even from people with varying levels of online competency. With Google Analytics being such a powerful tool, here are 5 good reasons non ecommerce websites need to be using Google Analytics. (This post assumes you already have a website up and running, if not check out our Choosing Your CMS blog post for some great information about some of your options.)
1. Your Website Makes Money Somehow
Whether or not you have an online store, your website is making (or in some cases losing) you money. With over 80% of consumers using online search to research a product or company it’s a safe bet to assume many of your customers are looking at your website prior to purchasing your products or contacting your company.
Most blogs are monetized in some way because unfortunately, it’s not free to run a informative and well visited blog. Some of the most common ways for a blog to make money is with ads, affiliate links or sponsored post/reviews. Most ad platforms and affiliate link systems will tell you how many people click on your ads/links, but what about how many people visit your website in general? This is important to know when forecasting (or guesstimating) how much money your blog will bring in and to have available for potential advertisers. Will your blog make $1 or $1000 per month? Or can you promise your advertisers 100 or 10,000 impressions? Without analytics you have no way of knowing..
Let’s say you run a consulting company where you help small businesses grow into large businesses. A normal path for your customers may include searching online to find consultants, visiting your website, then contacting you to get pricing, and then they decide whether or not they want to work with you or one of your competitors. Without the first step of the path, how would people find you? There is no way to see how beneficial step one is to your company or how effective your website is without analytics.
2. You Have an Action You Want People to Take
Most websites have a purpose for being online and thus have some sort of action for their users to complete. If your website’s purpose isn’t selling your product it more than likely collects email addresses, educates your customers about your company or products, or encourages them to solicit your services. All of these actions can be tracked in Google Analytics.
Analytics can tell you how many people visited your website and then gave you their email address vs. how many people just visited your website and then left.
Using Analytics you can tell how engaging your education content is by comparing the time customers spent on a specific page vs. how long on average it takes to read the page. If the number is near your average, then people are actually reading your content, if not there is a problem somewhere, whether it is low-quality content, poor grammar, or maybe it’s not information your audience cares about. All of these problems can be identified and addressed with Google Analytics.
For this type of website set-up, analytics can offer you insight into how many people visited your website and then either filled out your online form or gave you a call vs. the ones who simply visited and left.
3. Analytics Can Tell You Where and When to Update Your Website
If your goal is to collect email addresses, then you can set-up event triggers in Google Analytics to record that as a conversion (this requires some programming). You would then take your number of conversions and compare it to your total traffic (you can also just look at your conversions rate for that goal) to see how effective your email collection solutions are.
For an educational website, you might look at how long people spend on your educational pages. You would then compare this number to how long it should take them to read the page and that will tell you how engaging your content is. A number significantly lower than your expected value tells you either your content is of poor quality or your visitors don’t care about it. A number near the expected value means the content was of great or sufficient quality and your audience found it appealing. If you want to automate this process you can set-up goals in Google Analytics to automatically record a conversion once people spend the expected amount of time on your educational pages.
When soliciting services from your website, you would want to compare how many people visited your website for a specific period vs. how many people visited and then contacted you. If you are using an online form you can set-up goals to see when someone lands on your form success page, meaning they got to the thank you page of your form. Or if your form doesn’t have a thank you page, you can set-up events in Google Analytics to record when they click the submit button.
4. You Can Use Google Analytics to Calculate the ROI of Your Marketing Campaigns
Calculating your Return on Investment (ROI) is extremely important in determining if your marketing efforts are working and which ones are working best. But how do you calculate your ROI when your website isn’t actually making money? It actually pretty easy, you just need to assign each conversion in Google Analytics a monetary value.
5. Impressions Matter More than You Think!
Just like with in-person meetings, when people meet your online brand they get a first impression. With in-person meetings you don’t always know if that impression is good or not, but with online impressions you do! Using a combination of segmentation and comparison in Google Analytics you can see how many new visitors your website receives and of those new visitors how many bounce (or the percentage of visitors to your website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page), how long they spend on your website and how many pages they view. Comparing these metrics, you can then determine how engaging your website and it’s content is. Generally speaking, longer times spent on your website equal more engaged visitors and a high number of page views again equals more engaged visitors. The more engaged your visitors are the more they care about your brand and thus the better first impression you made.
This was no doubt a lot of information, so you might want to save this page in your bookmarks to reference later. If you know a friend or colleague that could benefit from this post feel free to share it with them.
If you would like to know more, check out Google’s training program for Google Analytics
As always, we welcome questions, comments, or concerns below or you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org