Google Analytics: less boring than it sounds
I’ll be honest with you: I am not a technical person and have only recently been converted to the cult of Google Analytics. If you’re still a sceptic, let me try to change your mind.
For a long time, I thought of Analytics as a screen full of numbers – about as exciting as an itemised phone bill or, oh, I don’t know, the instruction manual for the kitchen blender.
The weird thing is, as someone who’s been managing sales teams for more than a decade, it’s not as if I’m allergic to numbers – I love spreadsheets and dashboards; I live and breathe metrics and KPIs.
Perhaps the problem was that, like some PracticeWeb clients I’ve spoken to in the past year, I hadn’t understood the extent to which Analytics is the key to turning your website into a lead generation machine.
Your website can be a lot more than a business card or shop window. Yes, it’s important for it to look good and up-to-date, but that’s just surface detail.
It should also be a constant work in progress, not a passive exercise – something you launch and forget about. A really hard-working commercial website is never really finished.
Google Analytics is the most important weapon in your arsenal when it comes to making improvements.
Whether it’s search engine optimisation (SEO), content strategy or conversion rate optimisation, it’s vital to understand who is visiting your site, how they’re using it and what decisions they’re making as a result.
So, yes, it is a screen full of numbers, but those numbers represent a goldmine of information the likes of which would have been the preserve of the Big Four accounting firms 20 years ago.
My job title is Commercial Director, so I’ll express it in my own terms: if you take some time to get to know Analytics, and take it seriously, you will get more clients, more desirable clients and sell them more services.
Who doesn’t like the sound of that?
How we use Analytics at PracticeWeb
Google Analytics is absolutely central to how we manage our own marketing and sales strategy.
We monitor traffic to our website constantly, looking out for problems, unexpected dips in traffic, changes in user demographics and, of course, opportunities.
At our weekly marketing strategy meeting, we talk through key points from the Analytics report. With additional input from SEO analysis software, social media statistics and information on the sources of incoming leads, we review our marketing strategy for the next week, month and quarter.
In particular, Analytics data helps us decide:
- when and how much to invest in pay-per-click search engine marketing
- the focus for upcoming blog content
- which guides and eBooks we want to prioritise
- which social media platforms are working best
- how specific ongoing campaigns are performing.
Basically, it takes us beyond guesswork and gut instinct and turns marketing into something more scientific.
We don’t let Analytics restrict us – if we’ve got a burning desire to write something, we write it! – but it does help us focus our time and energy.
It grows with you
Another sticking point for some is that Google Analytics is also a bit intimidating.
There are lots of screens of data and many metrics. It can sometimes feel that however deep you go, there’s always a link to take you further down the rabbithole.
The feeling that you need to understand every single aspect of how it works before you can get any value out of it is perhaps inevitable. Fortunately, that’s really not true.
If you only ever use the top level reporting, you’ll still have some amazing insight on which to base your strategic decision-making – and, crucially, you’ll put yourself miles ahead of those among the competition who don’t bother at all.
The new ‘Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics for Accountants’ put together by our MD, Mike Crook, makes this point really well. Mike is, it’s probably fair to say, obsessed with Analytics, but he’s also got a really clear idea of which aspects are the most useful to beginners.
If you only ever click on three tabs, he says, it should be:
- Audience – how many people are visiting your website and are they the right people?
- Acquisition – how are people finding your website? If, say, LinkedIn is working for you, focus more energy there.
- Behaviour – which pages on your website are users visiting and hanging around on? Do more of what works!
Free and universal
Google has also made choosing to use Analytics irresistible by making it absolutely free.
That’s right: one of the most powerful tools in digital marketing costs not a single penny.
Now, that’s because Google wants as many users as possible and, of course, as much generalised data as they can get to feed their amazing algorithms. They’re not a charity.
And that might make you feel uneasy – you might be one of those people resistant to the domination of our Californian tech firms – and fair play if so.
The fact is, though, that being on a universal platform has massive benefits for you, too.
For one thing, there’s no challenge you could possibly encounter that someone else hasn’t already faced, tackled and solved.
For another, you’ll find it easier to share, discuss and compare data with peers and professional service providers (like us) when everyone is using and knows the same tool.
If that’s convinced you, download Mike’s beginner’s guide and have a read. It’s super concise and digestible and will tell you how to go about getting Analytics set up, and where to start exploring.
If it hasn’t convinced you, but you’re interested in finding out more, get in touch. A free website audit or SEO audit is a good opportunity for me or one of my team to talk about how Analytics might help your accounting firm in practice.
Editorial: Zoe Sweet, Commercial Director, PracticeWeb
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