Have you ever heard this joke before?
Bill Gates walks into a bar. Everyone in there becomes a millionaire… on average.
When it comes to reporting website metrics, average rates are about as much use as one of those fetid SEO companies that promise you ‘page 1 of Google guaranteed!’
Of course, Google Analytics doesn’t help – as we show in our article on bounce rates.
Every time you login to your dashboard, there it is. Average session rate, average bounce rate. All those averages, slapping you in the face like a wet fish. Naturally, you need to know if your website is getting you results.
But when it comes to knowing what’s happening online, avoid spending any seconds of your life on ‘average’ metrics. And here’s why.
Imagine you’ve got a microsite comprising 9 pages:
Average exit rate across those pages is 71%.
What are you comparing it to?
Unless you have access to your competitor’s analytics so you can compare, averages tell you zilch, nowt, nada.
So drill down. That’s the only way to get anything out of Google Analytics.
First, let’s look at the goals you want your website to achieve. This is the first step in teaching you how to report on KPIs.
The prime focus requires looking at things that grow your business.
For example, if you’re selling online you want to track goals like:
- Sales (of course)
- Downloads of infosheets or white papers (so your sales team can follow up with emails or phonecalls)
- Views of videos or blogs by people who then go on to buy (so you can measure ROI)
- Newsletter signups (give your visitors a reason to return to your website and buy)
- Product enquiries (here’s your chance to turn them from browser to buyer)
- Repeat visits (92% of first-time visitors won’t buy)
Now make a list of the pages where all those actions are possible. They’re your high priority pages, where you should start looking for possible errors.
Let’s look again at the exit rate for our microsite by looking at each individual page:
- Home: 40%
- About: 40%
- Contact: 80%
- Category: 75%
- Product: 90%
- Product: 50%
- Product: 80%
- View basket: 90%
- Thank you: 90%
Want to know where to start analysing and optimising a website’s performance? Follow the money.
That means starting with the point that’s closest to the final conversion.
Achieve a 5% lift close to the final conversion and you’ll increase overall conversions by 5%. Achieve a 5% lift further back, and there are still places where people can exit.
In this example, the step before conversion is the ‘view basket’ page. On this page, the only thing left to do is click buy, and then get taken to the ‘thank you’ page. However, 90% of users are viewing their basket, but not buying.
There’s also a 90% exit rate on the thank you page. But that’s normal. Those people have done what they came to do. Their job here is done.
Contact us. Yes, 80% is another high one. But that’s normal as well. People go there, get what they want – a phone number or email address – and leave.
One of the product pages also has a 90% exit rate. That’s a problem, but it’s not as close to the checkout stage. So start with the ‘view basket’ page, solve that, and then analyse the product page.
This is where you start uncovering the treasure in terms of reporting website metrics.
Start segmenting these metrics in Google Analytics.
Try segmenting by:
- Region (Exit rate high on a particular region? Check the copy. Maybe your headline isn’t translating)
- Source (Exit rate high for people arriving via Facebook ads compared to Twitter ads? Test some different Facebook ads, or divert Facebook adspend towards Twitter)
- Device (Exit rate high on a iPhone6? Your website may have a bug)
- New v returning visitors (New visitors are more likely to exit because they’re more likely to be comparison shopping. So plan a strategy to encourage visitors to return or explore. Test a pop-up offering 10% discount to new customers. A free guide in exchange for signing up to your monthly newsletter.)
If there’s only one thing you ever learn about Google Analytics, learn how to segment. Segment across any dimension that makes a difference to your website’s bottom line. Then you’ll be well on the way to understanding what’s happening on your website. And most importantly, taking action to fix things and boosting your business, campaign or KPIs.