Although some people put up websites for completely altruistic reasons – for example, wanting to share knowledge or persuade people to a cause – most webmasters want to see some sort of financial payoff for their efforts. But to get the biggest financial benefit from your website, it’s important to understand how you make money and where improvements can be made in your site’s monetization.
To learn more about different methods for tracking your website’s revenue with Google Analytics, check out the following options:
Option #1 – Track Revenue from Ecommerce Transactions
If your site sells products (whether physical or digital), you’ll want to use the features within Google Analytics that allow you to track sales through the use of custom code embedded in your shopping cart system. Essentially, this type of tracking will allow you to determine which pages on your site result in the most sales, how people arrive on these “money” pages and which products represent the highest value in your store.
To get started, you'll first need to enable ecommerce reporting by logging in to Google Analytics and switching the “E-Commerce Website” radio button in the Main Website Profile Information from “No” to “Yes.”
The next step is a little more complicated, as you'll need to add a customized tracking code to your shopping cart system that reports back when and how purchases have occurred. Depending on your hosting and shopping cart providers, this may be done through a server-side include, a separate module through your content system or through hand-coded HTML.
For more details on how to finish this integration, check out Google's “Ecommerce Tracking” documentation.
Option #2 – Track Revenue from Non-Ecommerce Sites
Now, suppose you don’t sell any products on your site, but instead use your page to generate leads for an offline business. In this case, every visitor to your site has a monetary value, although this isn’t determined by the number of sales that result from a traditional shopping cart system.
Ideally, the revenue generated from the time and effort you invest into promoting your website should increase over time, but to track whether or not this is the case, you'll want to make use of “Goals” within Google Analytics. To do so, log in to your Analytics account and navigate to “Conversions ? Goals”, where you'll have the option of setting up new Goals.
Although you have several different Goal types you can play around with, Event Goals (in which goals aren't tied to arrival on a specific site URL) make the most sense for tracking revenue from non-ecommerce sites, as they allow you to set a custom event value for each circumstance you define.
For example, say you generate leads through the download of whitepaper on your site, and you've determined that the average value of a visitor who contacts your company in this manner is worth $20. By setting up an Event Goal according to the following criteria, you can track how potential leads move through your site in order to optimize your site's structure for maximum conversions:
Option #3 – Integrate Analytics with Adwords
Tying your Google Analytics account to your Adwords accounts can give you some very valuable information about the efficacy of your PPC campaigns, including which keywords result in conversions, what Adwords visitors do once they visit your site and more.
But the best part is that setting up this integration is incredibly simple. As long as you use the same email address to log in to both your Analytics and Adwords accounts, open up your Adwords account, navigate to the “Reporting” tab and click on “Google Analytics”. Select “I already have a Google Analytics account”, then select the correct account profile from the list that populates.
In the next section, you'll have the opportunity to select and de-select a number of checkboxes – including one that gives you the option of turning off auto-tagging. For most beginning users, we recommend leaving auto-tagging on, as this is a much simpler way to tie your keywords to your campaign links than manually adding tracking variables to every link in your account.
You'll also want to take the time to import your cost data from Adwords, as this will allow you to analyze the ROI of all conversions and sales that result on per-keyword basis. To do this, follow these steps, as laid out by Google Support:
- Log in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.com.
- Select the Reporting tab and click ‘Google Analytics.'
- Click ‘Edit' next to the profile you would like to edit.
- Click the ‘Edit' link in the upper-right corner of the ‘Main Website Profile Information' box.
- Check the ‘Apply Cost Data' checkbox.
- Click on the ‘Save Changes' button.
Option #4 – Integrate Analytics with Adsense
As with the Google Adwords/Google Analytics integration described above, pairing Google's website statistics manager with your Adsense account can result in several types of useful data, including the ability to view earnings based on user visits (rather than just page impressions). You'll also be able to view click data based on user location, browser type, and referring source – all of which can help you refine your content-based advertising monetization strategy.
To connect your Analytics and Adsense accounts, look for a link inviting you to do so in the Overview or Advanced Reports pages of your Adsense account. Unfortunately, this functionality isn't yet available to all users, but it is being rolled out slowly. If you aren't yet eligible, keep checking back to take advantage of this feature in the future.
Option #5 – Use Google Analytics to Measure the ROI of Different Traffic Types
One final way that you should consider using Google Analytics to track the revenue generated by your website is to break out revenue stream by traffic type.
Most webmasters advertise their sites in a number of different ways, including PPC ads, article marketing, social networking, forum marketing and others. However, since it’s likely that not all of these activities result in the same financial benefit, it’s a good idea to break them apart to see which traffic source results in the most income generated in order to determine how to best allocate future promotional efforts.
To do this, you'll need to set up Advanced Traffic segments, which allow you to break out visitors based on referring sites to see which types of traffic are converting best for you. Start by clicking on the “Advanced Segments” tab under the “Standard Reporting” tab of your Google Dashboard. You'll see that some default segments have been included, but you can also use the button in the lower right-hand corner to create your own segments based around specific sites or types of sites.
A few potential traffic segments you could create include: traffic from Facebook versus Twitter (use the “Source” criterion to set up this option), visitors from blogs you comment on and traffic from forums on which you participate. Once these segments are set up, you filter your Goal conversions by segment to compare which traffic streams are most profitable for your site.
Image: Ben (Falcifer)