Everyone starts with the basics. And, everyone rushes to get off the basics as fast as they can to do “sexy” hard work that will really impress a boss or a client. It does not take a long time to realize that the “sexy” work takes up a lifetime, and it is a struggle.
You are doing this right now.
And it is ok.
Here’s the problem. While you are chasing custom attribution modeling or creating your next big bang Out-of-home advertising screen infused with sexy creative or identifying the ultimate offline metric or chasing the latest unproven shiny object, none of the basics that your company should be nailing are being nurtured.
Basics are good. They need constant love and nurturing to ensure that you have a solid foundation and it does not develop any cracks over time. After all, what good is the most complex multi-touch attribution model for a site with 92% bounce rate?
I’m sure you are engaged in complex digital analytics. But, are you looking at these reports and metrics on a weekly basis to ensure you have rock solid basics…
1. Bounce Rate for Top 20 Landing Pages.
Report location: Behavior > Landing Pages
Most good campaigns go to die on neglected landing pages.
Never lose sight of your top 20 landing pages, and use bounce rate as a diagnostic measure to ensure your ads are not writing checks your website can’t cash.
Below, you can see a partial report from a site that is clearly not small, which means it has all the people, process, and money required to be great. Yet…
… The company is lighting money on fire. Four of the top ten landing pages have atrocious bounce rates and another three have painful bounce rates.
Think of all the hard work that went into getting all these millions of people to the site (note the % of new users), now imagine the opportunity wasted.
Don’t let this be you.
Additionally, don’t forget to segment this report by mobile and desktop experience. I assure you more pain awaits.
Here’s the good news, anything you do to fix bounce rates forces you and your teams to understand your customers better and any fixes you make will flow a river of positive energy towards the rest of the experience beyond the landing page.
2. Conversion Rates | Owned, Earned, Paid Media.
Report location: Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels
Most reporting is done in silos. You assess Paid Search all by itself and lose context from everything else your company is doing.
On the other hand, if comparative streams are put together they end up being data pukes with too much detail. Again, you lose valuable strategic context.
Use the Channels report in Google Analytics to deliver that high level reality check. This report is great at aggregating up and providing big comparative clusters…
Owned, earned and paid channels are right next to each other. Every channel has its own cost structure (see $ signs). Every channel is delivering a different number of outcomes (ugly green smileys).
In the above report, the most expensive channels, the ones where you are spending an outsized amount of your budget, suck the most at conversion. 0.05% Conversion Rate from your display campaigns – the second largest driver of traffic to the site. (This is not even my site and I’m weeping with pain.)
These days there is rarely a dearth of detail in any company – thanks to our exhaustive data puking efforts. It is not often that we look at the big picture enough. Does your Channels report get enough senior leadership exposure? Does it make you cry (with pain or joy)?
3. Competitive Opportunities | Benchmarking FTW
Report location: Audience > Benchmarking > Devices
Here’s a surprising reason people don’t take action based on our reports/dashboards: They don’t know if what they are looking at is good or bad.
The percentage of New Users to your site is 62%. Hurray? No hurray?
This is the reason I love goals and benchmarks. Both of them help you understand if the performance is good or bad. Goals are necessary (at least you know what to shoot for, based on your company’s analysis), but usually not sufficient (e.g., missing industry, competitive context).
Google Analytics has a lovely bench-marking feature that’ll get you going on this journey. Here’s a report I use for my weekly dose of basic…
It helps answer where I might have blind spots – even if per my internal goals I’m doing fine. In this case you can see the opportunity on Mobile clearly from an industry/ecosystem perspective.
Looking across metrics, I can see that my problem with Mobile might be deeper (e.g. User Experience (UX)?).
The Channels bench-marking report helps you identify gaps in your acquisition strategy more broadly.
There are four kinds of benchmarks you can use: Own data, industry analysts, competitor, vendor data.
Doing analytics without benchmarks is like playing in the English Premier League naked – embarrassing, with a guaranteed loss.
4. Loyalty! | Days Since Last Session
Report location: Audience > Behavior > Frequency & Recency > Tab 2
60% to 70% of all your company’s digital effort is likely sunk into attracting an audience… Stealing that most precious of commodities: Attention.
How good are you at retaining that attention?
Days Since Last Session report helps you understand if your Users are loyal to you….
For ecommerce sites, this report is of value across the natural rhythms of the business (say people buy from you every 45 days, what percentage of your Users return every 45 days to buy?).
For content sites (newspapers, corporate sites, blogs, research entities, B2B sites), the same pattern except much more urgent – if you publish content on average five times a day, what percentage of your users visits five times per day?
The above report is for a long standing large content site. It is updated multiple times per day, 7 days a week.
You can clearly see that a vast majority of people have never visited the site. And, a tiny fraction of them show the kind of loyalty that this business needs to survive (with a low cost base).
Do you know your loyalty rates? Why not?
5. Embrace the hurt of Abandonment
Report location: Conversions > Ecommerce > Checkout Behavior
Every company should constantly be working on the site, mobile apps, checkout process. It is the fastest way to make money as you are obsessing about just a handful of pages that have only one job.
In this instance, the checkout process is just two pages…
… and there is a 62% abandonment rate on the first page!
Would you not have five full time people working on improving this? Segmenting the data, doing research studies, understanding the upstream experience, running tons of A/B tests using free Google Optimize, looking over the influence of promotions, and on and on and on?
The average order value on this site is ₦50,000. Totally worth focusing on one page to squeeze out even a 5 percentage point improvement.
The second step in this instance looks much better. That may or may not be the case on your site. Actually… Don’t open GA, do you know the abandonment rate for each step of the checkout process?
Bonus: I was trying to restrain myself and not give you anything non-basic, but I can’t resist. I adore the Shopping Behavior elements of the Product Performance report.
There is no better appreciation of the sophisticated merchandising strategies of the business than the numbers you see in the last two columns.
Of the people who see the product detail page on your site, how many add the product to cart?
Of the people who see the product detail page on your site, how many end up buying the product?
I love this report so much because it tackles a broad problem. I can fix some of the deeper core issues, both for the Users as well as the company. It is painful. The reward is thrilling.
6. Give full credit | Assisted Conversions, please
Report location: Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted
With the ebb of time, things that sometimes were advanced become basic. Stinks, I know.
Assisted Conversions fall in that category. They are a bit of a complicated concept.
Most analytics focus on Sessions, this is one of the rare instances of focusing on the Users and their journey.
Most analytics is siloed, Assisted Conversions include the entire portfolio of your channels which means you are forced to work with multiple teams, channels, budgets, and…. politics.
Fixing anything with Assisted Conversions insights means having to bring the org along with you, it is wonderful.
Consider the implications of the channels with green smileys. There are huge implications of campaign budgets, landing pages, offers, team sizes. All positive. Consider the implications of that red frowny on Social Network, so surprising.
It is a ton of work, but deeply understanding Assisted Conversions and using that to optimize your Acquisition strategy is now basic. Without it, you are not going to create the type of competitive advantage that you deserve.
So, are you optimizing silos or portfolios?
Bottom-line: It is with personal pain that I recognize that doing the basics well never gets anyone promoted. The larger the company, the more the shiny seems sexy – even as it fails to add material value. If you focus on the basics, and remember you are an Analyst, keep score of your wins, I promise the total of that will be HUUUUGE. The last laugh will be yours.
Basics are sexy.
PS: If you want to practice all of the above, but don’t have an easily accessible dataset, you can use Google Analytics Demo account. Here’s how: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/6367342