Building a business and digital presence from scratch can be difficult. Today—your startup and website’s success requires a growing number of technologies and tactics be executed with finesse. One of those is Google Analytics for startups.
In the early stages of your startup website—organizations need low-cost solutions and the ability to gather experience data to glean insights and make improvements. Google Analytics is an excellent fit for both criteria.
While Google Analytics (GA) is well known as the “go-to” analytics solution, many young organizations struggle to leverage GA data in any meaningful way. The most common reasons are typically related to not having enough data to make decisions, missing crucial steps in the setup process, an inability to correlate data to causes/events, or even—plainly—lacking direction and a simple process.
As a member of a startup—your time is in short supply and having efficient, repeatable processes (where possible) is critical to scaling your efforts.
In this blog, we’ll break down Google Analytics for Startups—including the high-value data and insights you can glean from GA as well as how to effectively leverage those to make meaningful improvements to your lead generation website to drive attention, traffic, and leads.
Before We Get Started On Google Analytics For Startups...
Google Analytics is an essential measurement tool for gathering information about your website visitors’ experiences and empowering data-driven decisions to make improvements. Regardless of how little traffic your website may be getting, we recommend that you set up GA early (and verify it) so that you can be collecting data for use later.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure” - Peter Drucker “
If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.” - Lord Kelvin
Don’t wait to implement analytics on your website. By the time you realize you need data to make improvements—you’ll have already missed out on critical data to formulate early insights and make decisions.
Additionally, website data provides key insights over time as your “on” and “off” site awareness tactics change. (i.e., your social and content engagement plays)
You shouldn’t need to spend days every month pouring over GA data—unless you have the traffic, bandwidth (time), and expertise in-house to do so. Likely, in your organization’s early stages, your time is better spent working on your product/service or generating valuable content to boost awareness and engage potential customers.
The aspects of measurement that we’ll cover in this blog’ are intended for small teams and young websites. We will outline the aspects of data that you can use to understand your visitors’ experiences better and make improvements.
Then we’ll provide our best recommendations for when and how to review GA data—taken from our experiences working with dozens of startups.
Without further ado...
Acquisition Type: Where Are Visitors Coming From?
Acquisition Type tells you where website visitors originally came from—whether that’s from search engines, social networks, or referring websites.
There are a number of acquisition types you’ll see:
- Direct (straight to your website/URL)
- Organic Search (found in search)
- Referral (came from another website/link)
- Social (traffic from facebook, twitter, linkedin, etc.)
- Email (link from email)
- Paid (traffic from advertising)
- Other (miscellaneous)
Gathering acquisition type visitor data over time provides a wealth of knowledge and can help you understand which of your early efforts are providing website benefits. Used in coordination with campaign tracking URLs—you and your team will be able to identify where traffic is coming from and measure performance related to each type.
Like the other metrics covered in this blog, acquisition type gives you a starting point for digging deeper into traffic insights. The key is to identify your highest performing segments—as well as any opportunities. Optimize what’s already performing well while using new opportunities and insights into other traffic to test new theories and approaches.
You may be receiving very little traffic from social media—UNTIL you start posting customer testimonials about how your service changed your customers’ businesses.
OR you may not be getting any traffic from organic searches—UNTIL you begin creating search engine optimized blogs, news articles, and information for potential customers on your website.
Site Content: What Are Visitors Looking At and Engaging With?
The next aspect of measurement is site content, specifically, what pages your visitors are spending time on and how they are engaging with those pages.
Keep an eye on your top trafficked pages (5–10 is a good place to start), and HOW they are performing (page views, average time on page, bounce rate, etc) will cue you into main opportunities and gaps your website may have.
Top 3 Site Content Metrics to look at…
Pageviews tells you how many times pages were looked at by visitors. Unique Pageviews will only count each page once per visitor—even if the visitor returned to it multiple times during their visit. For startups and young organizations—typically, the most trafficked pages include the homepage, primary product/services pages, about page, and perhaps a blog or resource.
Having a significant difference in the number of “Pageviews” vs. “Unique Pageviews” will cue you into whether or not visitors view a page multiple times and if it has “repeat value.”
Knowing which pages on your site get the most traffic will provide insights into how (and where) you create conversion opportunities that are important for driving leads and business. (e.g. if your Company About page gets lots of traffic—consider adding a call to action at the bottom of the page to learn more about a specific solution or service)
Pageview metrics can provide website views in aggregate or be looked at on a page-by-page basis. Look at the aggregate to help you see longer-term trends in website traffic. Look at individual pages to identify which of your pages have the most visibility.
Average Time on Page
Average Time on Page measures how long visitors spend reading or searching for information that’s relevant to them on each specific page. This metric can provide a range of insights...
Do you have a page with a significantly higher Avg Time on Page than others?
Does the amount of words, images/graphics, and videos on a page warrant the time spent?
If you have pages with lots of words but very low average time spent—you may want to consider augmenting your words on the page with videos or images that convey the information and your message.
If you have a page with higher average time spent but also a high bounce rate—this could mean that you’re missing a page conversion entirely or that you haven’t done a good job at prompting the visitor to take the next step (and making that action clear).
Which brings us to...
Bounce Rate is a metric that identifies how many visitors left your website experience after only viewing one page.
If you have a page with a high bounce rate (e.g., over 30–50%, varies by industry/business type), this could tell you that you’re missing a conversion or that the page’s content doesn’t match the expectations a visitor came in with.
On the other hand, if you have a page with a low bounce rate—it’s likely doing a good job at generating visitor engagement. The next question is… How is your bounce rate (or alternatively, your conversion rate) on the next page visitors look at?
Keeping track of the bounce rate on your highest trafficked pages will help you identify problems, opportunities, or successes with the traffic you’re already getting.
Session Information: Macro Web Metrics In Google Analytics For Startups
In addition to specific page metrics discussed in the previous section, it can be helpful to compare session information to prior timeframes (monthly, quarterly, etc.).
These aggregate metrics will inform you whether your overall digital experience changes are leading to longer visits and how many pages are being viewed.
Average Session Duration
Average Session Duration provides a snapshot of how long visitors are willing to spend engaging and consuming information on your website.
Pages Per Session
Pages Per Session provides a baseline measurement of how engaged users are and how willing they are to click through to find the information they want.
These metrics are useful to review over time—and specifically, you should look for major deltas over time periods. Spikes could mean that you’re making valuable improvements through content and linking it together to serve your website visitors. Dips could mean that users can’t easily find what they are looking for or something you changed caused a problem or doesn’t work well.
Ultimately what matters is... Are they converting? We’ll talk about your goals and conversions shortly.
New Users vs Returning Users: Are Visitors Coming Back?
As measured by GA, New Users are recognized as having never before visited your website. On the other hand, Users measures the total number of visitors who have initiated at least one session with your website or app within a specific period of time. The difference between these two measurements—those are your Returning Users.
You don’t need to spend a lot of time looking into this metric—but it can often provide insights into how many (and what %) of your web visits from each channel or acquisition type are from repeat traffic.
If you’re getting a lot of returning users—it could be a good sign that your value and messaging resonates, but they just haven’t made a decision yet. For instance, you may use this as a clue that you should create some incentive or valuable piece of content to share on social.
Remember—whenever possible, try to send visitors to a specific page with messaging and Call to Actions (CTAs) that match their expectations and promises the value your organization offers.
Device Type & Browser/OS: What Devices Are Visitors Using?
Data gathered by GA regarding device type, and browser/OS can be invaluable for identifying both technical and design problems with your website—as well as cue you into where your energy should be best spent.
Review your website visitor’s device type and browser breakdown to identify what percentage (%) of your traffic comes in from desktop, mobile, or tablet devices. You’ll also be able to identify other essential aspects of these traffic segments—such as what the average session duration is, # of pages per session, bounce rate, goal conversion rate, etc.
For example, if you find that 80% of your traffic comes in through mobile with an even split across Chrome and Firefox mobile browsers—you’ll know you should spend the majority of your testing or QA efforts supporting those mediums and browsers.
Additionally, if you find that 90% of your conversions/goal achievements come from users on Chrome via the desktop—you can work to develop language and opportunities that push clients to use those experiences.
This also might clue you in to check and make sure you can perform a conversion on the mobile experience.
Goals & Conversions: Are Visitors Performing Actions That Lead To Value?
One of the most commonly overlooked setup steps for Google Analytics is defining Conversions and Goals in legacy GA and UA. In GA4, it’s setting up Conversion Events.
Skipping this step means missing out on correlating visitor experience data to a goal completion % or value. Goal and conversion metrics can be used in coordination with nearly all of the other types of metrics and data we’ve discussed so far.
Depending on your offering—you may look at conversions differently. Some of the best and most common conversions for startups and small businesses include:
- Submission of a contact form
- Scheduling a meeting
- Downloading an ebook or other resource
- Buying a digital product
- Reaching a “Thank You” page
Based on your website and specific implementation, the specific steps to configure goals and conversions will vary. However, as you start out, we typically recommend focusing on and setting up 3–5 conversions/goals to measure your performance.
Often—simply by going through the process of defining what a “conversion” or “success” means on your website, your team will have a better understanding of how to create and frame content to make it valuable and clickable for visitors.
That’s it! Those are the highest-value metrics and web experience data you begin to pull to make better, data-driven decisions. Google Analytics for startups can be a powerful tool to help you increase web traffic and leads early on.
So what’s next??
Next, we’ll want to operationalize and streamline data/processes to make meaningful improvements to your website.
To learn more, check out the next blog: Streamline Your Startup’s Website Analytics Reporting & Review Sessions. (Coming Soon)