We live in a time where we have easy access to loads of data, and it can get overwhelming quickly. Whether it’s data from Instagram Insights about our audience, email opens and click rates from MailChimp, or who is visiting our website with Google Analytics, all of this valuable information is at our disposal with no additional cost. Not only is it baffling that all of this is at our fingertips, but what’s more confusing is trying to answer the lingering question it leaves us with: what should I be doing with this?
Let’s be honest, looking at a tool like Google Analytics can be an ugly task. The jumble of all those metrics and reports isn’t exactly aesthetically pleasing. But , I’m here to tell you that although this process might seem daunting at first, in the long run getting familiarized with your data, specifically your site traffic, will not only help you make better decisions, but stimulate your creativity in new and amazing ways. Trust me, you don’t need to have a statistics degree to get to know your site traffic, just a little bit of patience and structure will do!
When it comes to Google Analytics, there are a few starting points that will help you navigate using this information to your advantage:
1. Understand what content on your site is the most popular.
Here you can start to see which blog posts are the most popular and getting people to stick around on your site longer. If you don’t have a blog, that’s okay! Whether you have gallery images, podcast episodes, or freebie opt-ins, as long as it’s on your site, you can track how people are consuming what you are putting out there.
Once you get a sense of which content topics seem to be getting others fired up, you can brainstorm similar topics to use or play off of the same themes. Why guess what others are needing to hear more of when Google Analytics will tell you right off the bat?
2. Get a better grasp of where people are directed from when visiting your site.
We put a lot of effort into trying to be on all of the social media platforms to bring visitors to our site. But at the end of the day, we don’t know if those followers are getting on our site and doing all the things we want them to do (share an article, download something, or possibly make purchase) - unless we look at our analytics!
That’s right - Google Analytics will tell you exactly how many visits you are getting through your Facebook ads, email campaigns, or by simply typing the site URL into the browser. Wouldn’t it be great to not only understand how many people saw your ad, but also how many of them actually clicked into your site from it?
This type of information can influence where you spend your time, money, and creative expression.
So, instead of wasting that precious creative energy obsessing about whether to spend more time on your emails or Instagram, just ask your analytics! And then go back and create more amazing content to focus on in that marketing area.
3. Gain more confidence by creating a data hypothesis.
What is a data hypothesis? Remember in elementary school where we had to build a hypothesis for a science experiment? For example - is sugar heavier than salt? Or, do roses grow faster than lilacs? Essentially, approaching our data and business experiments in the same way can help us learn faster from our mistakes and generate more ideas.
Documenting what you are experimenting with right now and reviewing the results in Google Analytics can help you get more clarity on what you should be focusing on next. Trying a new tone of voice on Instagram? Check if you got more site visits in the last month from Instagram. Not sure if your last three blog posts really got to your audience? Check your site traffic and see what people did after reading those blog posts. In the long run, this gives a strong foothold on the reality of your site traffic to then draw more assertive conclusions about what is working vs. what isn’t.
This kind of confidence only comes with the practice of documenting your ideas and pairing it up with what you see in the analytics. It also gives you more freedom since, once you understand the data, you can decide which direction to take.
Instead of blindly shooting theories in the dark, complement your gut feeling with real data to guide you towards all your aspirations.
Want to understand which content is most popular on your site? I created a workbook + video to identify your top three most popular posts in the last month, and to get inspired with where that knowledge can take you. This workbook will help you generate a month’s worth of content based off what you are seeing in your data. Download the workbook + video here!
Trust me, and set a date to start getting to know your data. Even if it’s five minutes this week, just start somewhere! I promise it doesn’t have to be as painful as it seems, and you could be surprised by all the ideas you get based off of what you learn.
Photos by Valerie Denise Photography