We want you to be able to not only access your website data but to actually understand what all those weird words and strange numbers mean. As businesses, we put so much time and effort into our websites, right? I mean it’s 2020, you have to have a web presence and you need to know if it's working. This podcast covers how to review your website data with these four steps: what you should be reviewing, what tools you need to make it easier, what those metrics actually mean, and how often you should be reviewing. 

This podcast is the first of a three-part series about reviewing your marketing data. The next two in the series will cover how to review your social media data and email marketing. 

Hosted By
Monica Maye Pitts
Monica Maye Pitts Chief Creative Officer

Show Notes

We want you to be able to not only access your website data but to actually understand what all those weird words and strange numbers mean. As businesses, we put so much time and effort into our websites, right? I mean it’s 2020, you have to have a web presence and you need to know if it's working. This podcast covers how to review your website data with these four steps: what you should be reviewing, what tools you need to make it easier, what those metrics actually mean, and how often you should be reviewing. 

This podcast is the first of a three-part series about reviewing your marketing data. The next two in the series will cover how to review your social media data and email marketing. 

Transcription

Hello again, this is Monica Pitts and welcome to Marketing with Purpose. I am once again recording a podcast in my daughter's closet.

The trials of being a business owner, right. And today I'm going to tackle the first of a three-part series on how to review your marketing data to make decisions. I'm not going to lecture you about why you need to review your marketing data because you're here, I assume that you care about it. So I'm not here to change your values and make you decide that you're going to review stuff.

I love it because it's like a human science experiment. Can you get people to do what you want them to do? And why did they actually do what they did? What can I do differently to make them respond? I mean, and what makes digital marketing so cool is the data is extremely available. I think the reason I love marketing data is because I really understand it. And I also think the reason that more business owners don't look at their marketing data is because they don't know what it means. It makes them feel lost or out of control. I mean, I know that I don't love my retirement reports, and not just because they're tanking right now, but because I just honestly don't have much of a clue of what's going on in them. I mean, thank God for my Edward Jones agent who's translating them for me, and draws little pictures so I can understand what's going on.

Today, I'm hoping to give you that same luxury so you can look at your marketing data and understand if it's working or not, and then make empowered decisions on how to improve it. As I said, I'm going to do a series of podcasts over this topic. I'll be going in-depth over each thing: social media, websites, and email marketing.

I'll cover what you need to review, tools to use to make it easier, interpreting those metrics, and how often you need to review it.

And I'm going to talk about a bunch of really intangible stuff. So if you need visuals, hop on over to the mayecreate website and get the visuals as well as the show notes, and a nicely formatted blog post over this topic at podcast.mayecreate.com. And that's ma y e, c r e a t.com. And while you're there, you might also consider checking out our downloadable resources to help you along the rest of the way in your marketing journey.

So let's start at the top websites. What to review? Since this is the first of my digital

marketing data review podcasts, I'm going to give you a little bit more on the basics behind it.

So picture in your mind, a pyramid. At the top of the pyramid is your goal. At the bottom of the pyramid are the activities in your marketing plan. The middle of the pyramid is filled in with the metrics that you can review about those activities that will let you know if you're hitting your goal. The goal defines the most important metric, for example, if your goal is to increase sales, then sales revenue is your most important metric. So if you review nothing else, and you abandon me, right now, you just need to look at the amount of money that came into your company versus the amount of money that you spent in marketing. That's a big picture indicator that's your goal.

But where we're going to start reviewing right now is at the bottom.

This layer is made up of the activities that you do in your marketing plan and without this layer, the rest of the pyramid just it doesn't even exist. You can't reach your big picture goal if you don't do the activities that you need to get you there.

The metrics that you review for the bottom layer are pretty simple, like did you do the activities that you set out to do? For your website, for example, it might be blogging.

You might have set a goal to do four blog posts a month, did you do your four blog posts? That's the first thing that we need to review. And your website is a little more complicated than the rest of the things that you're going to look at for your digital marketing. Because all of your digital marketing funnels back into your website. So if you're not doing your other marketing activities, your website will suffer because of it. You won't see the same traffic on your site or the same behavior out of your visitors. So looking at those activities and whether you did them or not can absolutely impact the bottom line on your website.

glanced at demographics. Take a good look at the pages that were visited. Try to understand the landing pages, referral sources, device types, events, and the keywords that bring people to the site. And I just listed off what might feel like, you know, a million things. And you're probably driving in your car right now. And you're like, Monica, how am I supposed to process this? And here's the deal. This is just the part where I'm telling you what to review. 

Next, I'll talk about the tools you'll use to find each one of those things. And then I'm going to go in-depth into what each of these things means. Speaking of tools, what tools are you going to use to review the data from your website?

I use two tools the most often Google Analytics and Google search console. 

use it, but it's free. And it gives you a ton of data to look through. Google Search Console tells you how browsers, search engines interact with your website. Well, not all browsers and search engines, just Google. But let's face it, Google is probably driving 98% of the traffic to your website anyway. So that's probably the one you need to look at. So it's going to tell you what keywords it shows your website for in search results, and how often people click on your website when they search for those keywords. And it will also let you know, approximately where you rank for those keywords in search results. There is a third tool that I use called Google Data Studio. Now Google Data Studio does not actually record things on its own. It's a dashboarding tool that allows you to suck in data from other places and then display it in a way that's meaningful to you. 

 I had a client who is a lawyer who went through the process of building a website with us and was like, wow, what you guys do is you try to make things as easy as possible for everybody. And then at the end, you give me this report from Google Analytics that means absolutely nothing to me at all. It's like written in some foreign language I can't understand. And that really resonated with me like, wow, here I am trying to convince my clients that their marketing data is important, but I haven't even given it to them in a way that they can really interpret it and understand it and use it to make marketing decisions. So when I found Google Data Studio, I was extremely pleased because it's a very flexible tool to be able to display data in charts, rearrange it, just display what I want, even color-code it. You can change the fonts, I'm telling you, you can do all kinds of stuff with this thing. And so each one of my clients has this very

nice, sortable dashboard that we've created for them, that pulls in the information from Google Search Console and Google Analytics and allows them to filter through the information to see what they want to see. I made a copy of this report and populated it with sample data. And I will put a link to it in the show notes and also in the nicely transcribed blog post so that you can go out and make a copy of the report on your own. You'll just switch out the data sources with your actual data sources and Google Analytics and Google Search Console. So that way, you can really quickly and easily sort your information and find what you want to find instead of having to go through all of the steps in Google Analytics. Google Analytics is awesome.

business owner and you're trying to sort through data, you don't have time to get distracted and sucked into this interface. And it's frustrating when you get lost in there and you can't find what you want to find. So I've tried to build these tools like the Google Data Studio report, to even allow myself to stay out of these other interfaces that are so darn complicated and convoluted, and have a way of sucking me in and taking me on this data journey that I never needed to go on to begin with. So make a copy of it tinker around with it, hopefully, you like it.

 Regardless of what source you're reviewing the in, you need to understand what each item means. And if you're a beginner, I would actually just write down exactly what you're trying to find before you even open up the program or the report.

It's much more difficult to go in there without a clue and just kind of bop around everywhere than it is to be like, I am

going to this one spot and solving this one problem. 

One of the very first things that I suggest before you start digging in and trying to diagnose how your website's behaving is sorting by geographic area. Restrict the data to just the states that you do business in. The people that are in your service area, are the people that you want to do business with. And they're the people that are interacting with your website that you can actually serve. The people that are over in Africa or India, if they're not in your service area, it doesn't really matter. They're probably not behaving nearly as favorably on your site and so all of your data is going to go down. And you can end up making false assumptions if you leave them in your data set. So narrow that geographic area down so that way you can really see how your potential customers are acting when they're on your site. It's not that the other information isn't important. One of my clients has

a ton of hits from California. But we're in Missouri, and they only service people in Columbia, Missouri and the 60 miles around us. And it turns out that there's actually a company in California with the exact same name as theirs that does the exact same thing. So they exchanged business back and forth. They even have that company's clients calling their number to get service. And they're like, oh, sorry, and that other company says the same thing. So it can be interesting data. It's just, it's not valuable to you right now with the decisions that you're trying to make. So once you narrow down to your geographic location, the first thing that you're going to look for is sessions. Sessions is the number of times your website was viewed. That's not to be confused with unique visitors. Each session is not a unique person. It's just a unique time that the server serves your website.

I like to look at this because I want to understand what my traffic flow looks like, at this given time. Over time, if you are adding content to your website and marketing to your website and growing your business, the number of sessions on your website should always be going up. There's going to be times of the year that your sessions will dip down, especially if you're a seasonal business. But in general, sessions should be slowly but surely ticking up. Now one thing that I have noticed recently is as Google has improved its knowledge graph that panel that you see on the side that tells people a phone number and an address office hours and has a photo of the business. As that has improved display and as mobile traffic increases, and that's the first thing that they see. They don't see the listing on the search page, they just see that knowledge graph display. I find that sessions has actually leveled off for some of my clients, but I anticipate that

they will go up over time. The next thing I look at is percent new visitors. These are the people who came to the website for the first time, during the time period for which you're reviewing data.

I could come to the website in December and then come again in November, I would be part of the new visitors’ percentage if you were just looking at the data for December because it doesn't know that I was there November too, it's just looking at that timeframe. Percent new visitors is important to me, especially if I'm running an advertising campaign. Or if I'm blogging, I want that percent new visitors to be relatively high because I'm trying to get in front of new people. And if I have a membership site, and I serve members and I give my members resources, I want a low percentage of new visitors in that instance because I want to see my members coming back to the website over and over again to look at the resources that I offer them.

The next three metrics that I review are to give me a picture of what user engagement looks like on the website. Their average time on site, pages per session, and bounce rate. Average time on site means how long is a user there per session, on average. The next one is pages per session, which is how many pages does a user go to on my site, per session, on average,

and then the bounce rate is when a person goes to the website and leaves the website from the same page. They don't ever go to another page within the website. So if the average time on site is high, let's say at least over a minute, I always want to see it over a minute. When I see things over two minutes, that's even better. But anything over a minute is relatively acceptable. If it's under a minute, you probably need to consider what you've put on the pages of your site and

If they're going to more than one page per session, then that's great, too. It means that the content that you have is easy to navigate around, and you've given them a path to proceed through the website. Now, if both of those things are looking good, then your bounce rate shouldn't be overly high. Bounce Rate is a tough one because it really depends on how you're marketing your content. For example, if I do lots of email campaigns, and I'm giving people links back to one page on my site, then I might have a higher bounce rate. Because people are going to go to that page in my site. That's what they wanted. They read it, they watch it, they leave. Now you can lower that bounce rate by giving them that great path to go to more information by offering them things like related posts, but a higher bounce rate is indicative of a website that is doing online marketing activities that would drive people

marketing is working. Google Analytics tells you if your traffic is coming in organically, which means that people are searching for you in a search engine and then arrive at your website. If it's coming indirect, it means that they typed in your URL into their browser or have saved your URL in their favorites and they click on it and come to your website directly. You'll have referral traffic, which is traffic that comes in from other websites. Social traffic is just like it sounds, coming from social media. And then you can also have different types of advertisements. So you might have display and paid search traffic as well. Unless you're doing online ads, for most websites, the highest type of traffic is organic search. If that isn't the highest traffic source and your highest traffic source is say direct, then you might want to dig into that and figure out if maybe every single person's computer in your office

has your website set as their homepage on their browser because that's not actually showing you real data. And you can filter out data from your Google Analytics by IP address. So you can exclude the people from your office from being recorded into your reports. And you change that in your admin settings.

The next metric you're going to review is demographics. If they're enabled, you have to enable this in your Google Analytics report. And if it's not enabled, you'll know because it will prompt you to enable it by clicking a button. Now because I think that marketing is a huge science experiment. I do find the demographics just totally fascinating. However, you need to take this particular piece of data with a grain of salt because the demographics report is only from a subsection of visitors that are going to your website. It's not everybody. It's only the people that allow it to be tracked.

The demographics tab will show you age and gender. And generally, I find that that is pretty well in line what we think it would be for a company. However, just remember, it is only a subset of visitors that you're looking at. Now to figure out what people are actually doing when they're on the site, I look at the pages that they visit, and the landing pages from which they enter. If you're running a blog, this is one of the most essential steps for you. Or if you have an e-commerce site. This is also super important. You want to know what products people are looking at and compare that to what products people actually buy. And for your blog, you want to look at what pages people enter in, how many times they look at a certain blog post, and then from there, you can figure out what content is resonating most with people. I would also look at how long people are staying on each one of those pages.

Because it'll let you know if the content is not quite right. For example, I have a blog post on ADA compliance on my website. Now, for my website, I meant what is a DEA compliance for a website, but it gets a bunch of traffic but nobody sticks around for more than, you know, a couple of seconds. Well, it's because it's about website ADA compliance, but for some reason, it gets served in general for ADA compliance. So what at first seemed like it was so incredibly successful, was actually kind of a mistake on Google's part for serving up content that

bunch more articles on ADA compliance because I'm not an expert on ADA compliance for buildings and for structures. I just do it for websites, different beast.

For a website without a blog, your most viewed page will always be your homepage. And the pages that people view the most will generally be the ones that Google is serving underneath your homepage. When people are searching for your business name, they almost always correlate. So if you go on out and you search for your business name, you're going to see a listing that's your homepage with the description underneath it. And then you might see up to six little listings underneath it, they call that the six-pack. So those are going to be the most visited pages on your site. If you only have three pages listed, then you would see those would be the three most visited pages on your site.

sight. And the reason is because visitors have went to those pages most often. So Google deems them the most valuable ones on your website, and it will share them with that homepage listing in a search result because it thinks that they will also find those pages useful. And they almost always reflect that way in search engine listings, and in your Google Analytics report. Glance quickly at your referral sources. Those are the websites that are sending your website traffic. One of the most important things about this referral report is that all the websites seem normal. They seem like sites that would send you traffic. They might be organizations that you're a member of that you have your website listed on their site. They should not be things like XYZ dot clickbait dot crap. Those are crappy websites that are basically scamming the system and trying to achieve greatness through junk and

they're blowing up your Google Analytics report. And they make me so angry. You can filter this stuff out of your analytics report, you have to install something on your website to do it, but you should not see them there. And if you do, you need to take the next step to clean up that data. Likewise, if you're paying for ads on another website, like maybe a local news site, or even something like the Yellow Pages, then you should see traffic coming in from those websites. If you don't see traffic coming in from those websites and those companies are giving your report saying that they're sending you visitors, they're probably not actually sending you visitors. They might be sending visitors to another site that they made for you. But it's not your actual website that you made for yourself, or they might not be sending traffic to you at all. And so this is a great way to do checks and balances. We have been through so many different types of data, and I only need you to stick with me for like three more.

The next one is device type. This is gonna let you know if people are looking at your website, on their phone, on their computer or on their tablet, you just need to make sure that people are behaving approximately the same way on each one. If they're behaving unfavorably on one or another, it might mean that your website's loading really low or that it's broken. You can also filter website traffic by device. So you can look at how people behave on your website. When they're on a mobile phone. You can look at what pages they see how long they stick around. It's great information. And it helps you understand what people need when they get to your website on a specific device with their purpose while they're there. For example, if you have a ton of mobile traffic, and you're not getting as many conversions on mobile, on your shopping cart as you are in desktop, maybe you need to consider a mobile app or maybe you need to look at the load time or the display on

mobile for your shopping cart because you know that a ton of those people have an interest in your products. But why aren't they buying? What can you change to make them have a better experience so they will buy from you.

And speaking of buying next thing is events. So if you don't have a shopping cart on your website, you might not just natively have events that show up in your Google Analytics report, you would need to set those up. The most common event that I set up for my clients that aren't shopping carts is just a thank you page event. You go in, you set up a goal. And basically it records every single time that somebody submits a form on the website, and it views the thank you page. And that allows you to see at a glance, how many people contacted you through your website. Now you can set up events for all kinds of different things. But that's the most common one that I use. Event Tracking is a much more advanced form of tracking that you can set up in Google Analytics. So I don't want to jump down that rabbit trail today. I just wanted to introduce it let you know that it's out there. And if you want to look further into it, you certainly can. It will give you a better picture if people are doing what you want them to do while they're on your site. Now, the last thing that you would look at, and this is not in Google Analytics, this is in Google Search Console is what words are bringing people to your website. What you should see is that when people search for your name or a variation of your name, they are clicking on the link most of the time and you're showing up in the, you know, top 10 search results. This would be normal behavior. Better behavior would be if people are searching for a service that you do, and you're showing up top of first page in search results and people are clicking on that. That's a lot harder to achieve if you're not running an SEO campaign. But it is something to aspire to. Everybody's got to start somewhere with their keywords. And the first step is just knowing what keywords people are using to arrive on your website. When I first started looking at the keywords that people were using to find my website, like I don't even know 12 years ago, it was sidewalk chalk, believe it or not, because I done this article on the lost marketing art of sidewalk chalk, and it was one of my most popular blog posts. And I also had an alt tag on an image that I had named sidewalk chalk. And so people were finding the image in search results. And they were also finding the word sidewalk chalk, and so it was dragging them into a website, but none of these were people that I wanted. And so eventually I just decided to take the post down because while it was driving traffic to my site, it wasn't really helping me on my journey to sell websites. So off it went. This is just one of the pieces of information that Google Search Console has to offer. There are so many nooks and crannies of that service that I don't even know all about them yet. It's a super valuable resource. Once you submit your sitemap to it, it will start generating this information for you. And you can just learn and learn and learn from it. It's not the end all be all for an SEO Software. But it's a great starting point for people who are starting to consider search engine optimization for their website and who care how people are finding their website. So take a look at it. Another thing that you might look at while you're in there is if you have any errors. If you have mobile errors on your website, it will report that kind of stuff to you as well. So just look for those error reports and then that can be another key indicator that maybe something isn't quite right on your site. Whoo. Okay, so that is what all those metrics mean. You're gonna go out into Google Analytics or you can use Google Data studio to look at sessions, percent new visitors, average time on site, pages per session, bounce rate, your traffic sources, the demographics, take a look at the pages people visit, landing pages they come in on, the referral sources, device type events, and then you can hop on over to the search console and check out what keywords brought people into your site.

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now how often are you supposed to do this? Right? That was the fourth thing I promised I'd tell you today. How often do you need to review this data? You do need to make a commitment to yourself into your marketing to decide how often you'll review because not everything will need to be reviewed at the same frequency. How often you review your website and what data you review each time will depend on how much traffic you have and how many digital marketing activities you're running. So if I've got a bunch of money tied up in an ad campaign for just three weeks for a sales push I'm going to be looking at my marketing data and my website data almost daily. Because I want to see if people are converting, I don't want to spend my money on something that's not working. But if you're only taking in a couple hundred visitors a month, then you're probably just going to need a glance at it monthly might even be bi-monthly or quarterly. Now when you begin reviewing your data, I know it's so hard to know what's good and what's not. And that's why I tried to give you some of those indicators here in this podcast. But look at it on a month over month comparison and then look at it year over a year. You won't always see improvement month over month due to seasonal services and fluctuation in your marketing activities. And that's why reviewing it year over year is important. I also like to look at it quarterly and looking at a semi-annual traffic comparison because I like to see patterns. I like to understand when I can expect a dip in my website traffic so that when I get into it the next month, I'm not alarmed because things don't look the way that I thought they would. And unless you've completely stopped your marketing, you should generally see improvements in your year over year traffic. And if you don't, then you need to figure out what's wrong. For example, I went into our website, and I was looking at it. And I noticed that it was declining in year over year for a couple of months. And it turned out that some of my very best blog posts were actually aging and they weren't bringing in the same amount of traffic that they did before. So then I went in and I said, Well, what areas it is it in? Is it just in Europe that they're declining? Is it in India because I don't work in those areas? Well, it turned out that it was everywhere. And that told me that I needed to now start on a campaign to update my blog posts that had done so well in the past, but we're starting to age out so that way I could bump them back up in search rankings and get my traffic back up. And after doing that I've definitely seen improvement in my website traffic now. Now one thing I would not do is I would not do a lot of week over week review. Unless you're engaged in that huge marketing push that I gave an example of earlier, it's difficult to compare that week over week data because it's such a limited amount.

Now, as you go through and you see things that are great, or they're not great going on on your website, just make sure that you're diagnosing the strategy and the creative components of your marketing plan. You know, your strategy is the number of activities that you do and the creative is the way that you do them. Use your website data as that additional piece of insurance that lets you know that your marketing is working. If Facebook tells you that tons of people are liking and clicking and interacting with something, and it's not sending a bunch of traffic to your website, that converts then it's probably something on your website that's not working, not your Facebook ad. Now, if people are interacting with your Facebook ad, but they're not clicking on it and you're not seeing them arrive at your website, then it's probably that your ad isn't quite right to drive people to your website. There's all kinds of different options that it could be an obviously is just one gigantic science experiment. But this website data will give you another resource with which to base your marketing decisions. As I said before, soon I will publish another podcast about social media data and how to review that to make marketing decisions. Today, we talked about websites, what you're going to review on your websites, the tools that make it easier, how to interpret those metrics, and how often you're going to review them. And we talked about a ton of intangible stuff and so if you do want the visuals that I talked through with you today, you can hop on over to the mayecreate website and get those visuals as well as the show notes, and a link to a very nicely formatted blog post that might make just so much more sense and those show notes all over this exact topic podcast.mayecreate.com and while you're there, you can check out our downloadable resources. So you can also be guided through the rest of your marketing journey. And with that, I know you have other things to do. Thank you for your time today. This is Monica Pitts go forth and market with purpose.

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