Google Analytics: The Key Metrics for Startups

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A startup without measurable analytics goals is truly a ship without a rudder, which is what makes Google Analytics such an important part of any new business’s growth and development.

To get started making sense out of all the information this program provides, check out the following list of the most important metrics to consider when integrating Google Analytics into your startup’s website:

1 – Overall Visitors

The number of overall visitors arriving on your site is a blunt metric, but it’s one that you should pay attention to nonetheless.  Ideally, as your startup grows and your marketing strategy develops, the number of visitors arriving on your website should go up month after month.

To view your overall visitors, log in to Google Analytics and click on the “Audience” heading in the left-hand sidebar.  The default “Overview” will provide total visitor counts for the last month (you can adjust the reporting period using the calendar feature in the upper right-hand area of the display):

Of course, overall visitor counts don’t paint a realistic picture of the quality of your traffic – it’s entirely possible to attract more of the wrong type of visitor, artificially inflating these numbers.  Keep an eye on this statistic, but be sure to pair it with some of the related metrics below for a more complete understanding of the quality of your traffic.

2 – Bounce Rate

If a website visitor arrives on your startup’s website and then leaves from the same page, this is considered a “bounce.”  A lower bounce rate is better, as this indicates that visitors are engaging with your site and finding value that encourages them to stay.

Pay attention to both your overall bounce rate and the bounce rate of specific pages.  Visitors who are arriving on your home page and then leaving obviously aren’t finding what they’re looking for, while visitors who land on your opt-in page and leave to subscribe should naturally have a high bounce rate.

However, since your overall site bounce rate can play a role in how your startup’s website is ranked in the search engines, it’s a good idea to set a goal of reducing this metric as much as possible.

3 – Average Time on Site

If your startup is driven by content or social engagement (as in the case of blogs and startup social networking sites), average time on site is a critical metric.

To boost your average time on site, consider taking any of the following actions:

  • Include internal links that direct visitors to other interesting pages on your site
  • Use “related posts” plugins or scripts to display other relevant content to visitors
  • Make use of embedded videos, which naturally require users to stay on your site longer
  • Develop interesting, “link bait” style content that captures reader attention

When implementing any of these tactics, be sure to record your baseline average time on site to see which techniques have the biggest impact on improving this metric.

4 – Conversion Rate

On the other hand, if your startup is more sales-oriented than engagement-focused, your key analytics goals should be based around how many visitors convert into buyers – not necessarily how long they remain on your site or how many pages they read.

To track conversion rates within Google Analytics, you’ll first need to set up “Goals”, which allow you to specify the parameters that indicate a successfully completed conversion.

If you sell a single product, click on the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner of your Analytics dashboard, navigate to the “Goals” tab within your site’s profile and click “Add Goal”.  Select the “URL Destination” goal type, enter the URL of the thank you page a visitor lands on after purchasing your product and then enter the purchase price of your product into the “Goal Value” field:

Setting up your goal in this way will allow Google Analytics to track the number of visitors that purchase your product and the total value of your overall sales.

If you sell multiple products on your site or if you use a multi-step sales funnel that pitches visitors on upsells or additional purchases, Google Analytics can still capture your conversions data, although it will require a few extra steps to set up.  The following help articles from Google Analytics will show you how to perform advanced conversion goal tracking:

5 – Traffic Sources

Another interesting metric that all startups should consider is the percentage of visitors coming in from different traffic sources.  To view where your visitors are coming from within Google Analytics, log in to your dashboard and click on “Traffic Sources” from the left-hand menu bar:

From the Overview section that appears automatically, you’ll see the percentage of your traffic that comes from each of the four main traffic sources:

  • Search Traffic – Visitors that come to your site from search engine queries
  • Referral Traffic – Visitors that come to your site from links on other websites
  • Direct Traffic – Readers who enter your URL directly into their browser windows
  • Campaigns – Visitors who come from your email marketing campaigns and other indirect traffic sources.

Each of these sections can be broken down to give you more detail on which sites and search keywords are sending you the most traffic.  Pay special attention to the top keywords that are sending you search traffic, as this data could reveal potential opportunities to capture additional search engine visitors by targeting related keywords with new content.

6 – Top Content

Understanding which pages on your site receive the most views can also prove to be interesting data for your startup’s website, as it allows you determine which pages your readers find most engaging and provides possible direction for your future content development.

For example, if you publish content to your startup’s blog that falls into four different categories and find that your readers tend to view articles in one category more than the others, you could decide to develop more content in this category that’s proven most engaging to your readers.

To find this information, click on “Content” in the left-hand menu bar and look for the list of your Top 10 Content Pages within the Overview section:

7 – ROI (Return on Investment)

One final metric your startup should pay attention to when integrating Google Analytics into your website is the overall ROI of your different promotion methods.

So far, we’ve covered how to track sales and measure the income these conversions generate, as well as how to identify which traffic sources are sending you the most traffic.  But to truly get the most out of Google Analytics, you’ll want to combine these two metrics in order to determine which traffic sources are sending you the most paying customers.

For example, if you knew that the traffic you received from the organic search results was sending you three times more sales or opt-ins than your social media traffic, you’d know to either focus more of your efforts on SEO than social media or to retool your social networking campaigns to attract different visitors.

The key to making this connection lies in creating Advanced Segments that allow you to filter your conversion data based on different traffic sources.  To do this, click on the “Advanced Segments” from any screen in the Standard Reporting view, and then select “+ New Custom Segment” from the lower right corner of the Advanced Segments screen.

Use the “Source” modifier to create a separate Advanced Segment for each of your Top 10 traffic sources, and then apply this filter to your conversions data to see which traffic source is the most profitable for your startup.

Keep in mind that these recommendations only scratch the surface in terms of the full power of the Google Analytics program.  However, implementing these tips into your startup’s website represents a great starting point when it comes to harnessing the power of data-driven decision making in order to increase your company’s overall profitability.

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