April 10, 2020
Google Analytics – Non-Ecommerce Sites: Beyond Averages

Google Analytics – Non-Ecommerce Sites: Beyond Averages

AVINASH KAUSHIK: So one of the
more popular posts I have written on my blog recently was
on non-ecommerce so I have become a big fan of
not making money. And I’m sure there are many of
you who are here today who might not actually have
e-commerce websites. And the nice thing is that there
is a really wonderful area in Google Analytics that
you can use to track effectiveness of your
non-ecommerce websites. I’m a huge fan of the BBC. That’s probably my primary
source of information. And they don’t sell anything. They just have a
ton of content. And so how should they
measure success? Typically, what happens in this
case is people use these metrics at an aggregate level
to measure success. They’ll say, oh, I want to know
the amount of page views, and I want to know visitors,
and time on site. And I will use this. 10 minutes is a fantastic
number, by the way. These numbers are
not for the BBC. They don’t use GA. They should, but they don’t. That’s a great time on site. It’s like, oh, I feel good. 10 minutes is awesome. When was the last you spent
10 minutes at a site? The interesting thing is
averages, they hide the truth very effectively. So the average earnings per year
between me and Bill Gates is $20 billion. I contribute $20,000,
and he contributes $100 billion a year. And that’s the important
thing to remember. Averages often hide the truth. So for example, rather than
measuring the number of visitors and the unique visitors
that come to a content site, in this case
you would assume that approximately each person
comes twice. All right, half a million, 1
million, that’s kind of what it looks like. But these are real numbers,
by the way, for a site. The reality actually
looks like this. The averages hide the
truth effectively. Then you do distribution. You get a much better
understanding of what is actually going on
in the website. So notice most people actually
just come once to this hardcore content site that is
trying to spam people with banner ads. God bless them. The distribution paints a
radically different story. You have big head, then it
shrinks really quickly. And look what happens here. Whoa. There are these loyal, crazy
people like me, who are actually coming to the site
100 times, 200 times. If you actually understood that
you have this swath of traffic– about 30 odd percent
of the traffic right here– that is spending between 14 to
200 times they’re coming to your website, wouldn’t you
design the site differently? Wouldn’t you react to
them differently? Wouldn’t your content strategy
be different? This is a very, very powerful
way of looking at data, by simply using distribution,
rather than using average. This is a great metric. If you are a content site, you
want to know if people are loyal to your website. Then you compare over time. And you say, am I getting
better or worse? I’m actually getting slightly
better in July. I’ve got 63% over there. Then there is recency. Again, purely for non-ecommerce
web sites, it’s important to know, if that’s
your business, do people come again and again. Our when was the last time
I actually saw Jim? It gives me an indicator
of success. If I have good content, if I’m
providing value to you, you will probably come
more frequently. So on this hardcore
non-ecommerce website, 66% of the traffic was brand new. That is, by the way, a stunning
number for them to realize, because they had
designed all of their content navigation structure based on
the fact that you knew them really, really well. They had no pages defining the
value that their site was bringing to them. And yet, there was this massive
amount of traffic that was brand new to
the franchise. So then you can go and figure
out, hey, what’s going on with recency. So this goes back literally– this website has had
Google Analytics for more than a year. It will go back. Take the people who you have
seen in this time period that you’re interested in, and it
will go back all the way in history, and say, hey, when
was the last time you saw this person? Very powerful report. If you’re doing a content site,
you probably want people to be over there,
not over here. Another average one is people
use time inside. 11 minutes over there, and
look at the distribution. So you have lots of people
who stay very little amount of time. And then you have a few people,
a chunk of people here stay really, really long
amounts of time. This is very effective in you
making decisions and measuring success of your website. Same thing with depth
of visit. How much content do
people consume? The wonderful thing about these
distributions is that it truly helps you understand the
value of a non-ecommerce website from your web analytics
data, are people loyal to you, do they come back
again, how long are they spending, and how much
content they consume. And if you’re cnn.com, or you
are sap.com, you are any website that does not do
ecommerce, if you want to measure success of your website
it is a powerful way for you to get started. The next thing you would
probably do is you’ll say, OK, let me segment this data. How do the numbers
look from Google? How do the numbers look for
my marketing campaigns? How do the numbers look for
my important keywords? You will segment this data, and
you’ll begin to understand a lot more effectively what’s
actually going on in the website and what action
you should be taking. And my recommendation for
non-ecommerce sites always is throw a survey up. Throw a simple little survey,
three or four questions, and ask people what they thought
of the content. This piece of data
still does not– it’s kind of sort of the
value of content and other fuzzy metrics. So if you want to do fuzzy
metrics, throw up a quick survey, and I can say, hey, as
a result of my experience is my brand getting better? Is the likelihood that I’m
driving people to offline sales better? Or nine months from here are
you going to buy a big Caterpillar system from me,
because you’re not ready to buy it now? So in combining a quick little
survey methodology with what you saw in GA with these
metrics, you can truly begin to understand if your content
website, if your non-ecommerce website is performing as
well as it should. And stay away from averages,
at least in this particular case.

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