In last week’s blog, we began looking at some of the data that you can collect about your business and how you can use it rather than letting it gather virtual dust.
Today, in Part Two, I’ll be walking you through some of the valuable insights available through Google Analytics, your social media pages and from training feedback.
Let’s get started.
If you have Google Analytics set up for your website, how often do you look at the data? Many business owners and freelancers know they should be using a tool like Google Analytics – or a metrics plugin on WordPress, for example – but then struggle to get to grips with how to use or even make sense of the data.
If you’re a Google Analytics novice, I’d recommend having a look through renowned SEO expert Neil Patel’s excellent Guide to Google Analytics Resources.
Personally, I think some of the key data to keep an eye on is:
- Your website’s bounce rate: This tells you the percentage of people who come to your site and leave without visiting any more pages. The lower the bounce rate, the better (you’ll find this information on the Home screen of your Google Analytics account). If you discover you have a high bounce rate, you will want to think about ways you can entice people deeper into your site, e.g. strong calls to action, links to latest blogs and news.
- Average session duration: This is how long, on average, visitors are staying on your website. A low bounce rate and higher average sessions (aka ‘dwell time’) are both strong ranking signals to Google. Things like longer, in-depth blog articles and videos can improve dwell time (this info is also on the Google Analytics Home screen next to the bounce rate).
- Audience overview: Find out where your audience is located and what devices they’re using to view your website. If you have a high percentage of mobile users then this would suggest that you need to ensure the experience of visiting your site on a mobile device is second to none (click on Audience>Overview for key information).
- Acquisition overview: The data in this section of Google Analytics tells you where your website traffic has come from. This can help you pinpoint whether your organic SEO is working, best referral sites, your most popular social media channels and what pages people are landing on when they come to your site (go to Acquisition>Overview to begin exploring this data).
- Social: One of the many reasons to post links to your content on social media is to drive traffic back to your website. The data in this section of Google Analytics can help you to work out a) where your audience spends their time on social media and b) which social media platforms are generating the most traffic for you. You may discover, for example, that you’re generating a bigger following on Pinterest or Instagram than on Twitter, which can give you the inspiration to shift your focus to one of these platforms.
If you have Google Search Console set up and connected to your Google Analytics account, you’ll also find some incredibly helpful search engine optimisation data there.
- Find the keywords people are using to find your site or services, as well as the impressions (i.e. number of times one of your web pages has been seen in search engine results for a given keyword), clickthrough rates and average position on Google – you can use this information to understand the search terms people are using to find your business
- Go to Links and see which pages on your website as the most linked to from external sites, which sites are linking back to you and what link text they use – you can use this information to identify fans, influencers, sites you could provide guest blogs for and to find out more about your audience
Last but not least, don’t forget to keep an eye on the insights the different social media platforms provide for business accounts.
On Facebook, for example, the data can help you to understand:
- Which types of posts get the most interaction
- The best times/days to post
- Your page’s most engaged fans and followers
- The demographics of your audience (gender, age, location)
Other platforms have similarly useful insights.
Armed with this information, you can build up a social media marketing strategy that includes what to post, where, when and who it should be aimed at.
Do you request feedback from trainees or clients when you’ve completed a training contract? If so, how often do you act on the feedback you receive?
There are several ways that you can use feedback from clients:
- Refine your future training programmes
- Add different ‘mix and match’ options for your services, enabling clients to create their own training package
- Put positive feedback in a ‘praise’ or ‘raves’ folder (whatever you want to call it) that you can use for inspiration and quote in your marketing
- Trim elements of your services that aren’t as useful to clients
- Select the best training venues
- Refine the refreshments on offer
- Use different learning tools or methods
Using your data
As we can see, it isn’t enough to harvest data about your business; the real value comes from using that data to back up the choices you make and the strategy you create.
Try blocking out some time in your diary each month to review your website, social media, financial and sales stats. By understanding what works for your business and what doesn’t, it’s easier to avoid costly mistakes and put your focus where it will make the biggest difference.
How often do you look at data about your business? What is the most important data source? Do you forget to monitor your data? It would be great to hear more about your own experiences.