- Google Analytics examples
- Google Analytics in a nutshell
- This is not an A-Z guide
- Exclude internal IP addresses
- Exclude CMS referrals
- Figure out what people are clicking on
- Figure out what people are searching for
- Figure out what pages people are interested in
- Real estate specific goals
- Marketing campaigns
- Google Search Console
- Further reading
- Wrapping up
You're a newly minted real estate agent, entrepreneur, or blogger looking for effective lead generation strategies. But what neighborhoods should be the focus of your marketing efforts? Who is your core demographic and what are they interested in? Where should you invest funds for effective lead generation?
If you had infinite money, chances are you would just throw cash at every potential market and see what sticks - but sadly, this is often far from the truth. Most of us have to spend our dollars wisely and sparingly, and it's not always obvious where we should devote time and effort (and money).
This is the part where I tell you there's a better way. Google Analytics offers you a way to track customer behavior, interests, locations, and more, informing your lead generation strategy for more targeted marketing. If you integrate Google Analytics into your website, you'll not only know what pages people are interested in - you'll know exactly what links they clicked on while they were on that page. It can be a bit difficult to grasp the value of such insights so I'll give some illustrative examples.
Google Analytics examples
You're a real estate agent in Massachusetts looking to expand into new neighborhoods. You want to start door knocking, flyering, and farming, but you're not sure what neighborhood to start in. Looking at your Google Analytics dashboard, you see that tons of people are searching your site for properties in Dorchester - so that's where you begin. You've narrowed the scope of your marketing campaign significantly, allowing you to direct funds toward qualified leads with a proven interest in owning a home.
You're a blogger looking to increase the number of visitors that come to your site. More importantly, you want those visitors to stay on your pages longer, giving them more time to click on links and ads. Looking at your Google Analytics dashboard, you see that your blog posts about Pokemon have a high number of sessions and a low bounce rate (I'll talk more about what these things are below), so you write more articles about Pokemon. More people come to your site, more people engage with your content, and you earn more money.
You're an entrepreneur selling clothes through your website and you want to increase sales without spending any money (wouldn't we all?). One thing you can do is setup a funnel in Google Analytics that tracks user interaction with your shopping cart. Your Google Analytics dashboard tells you that 50% of users are bailing out of your checkout process before finalizing their purchase; this information leads you to investigate your checkout process and - surprise! - your link doesn't work in the Google Chrome browser. You fix the problem and regain a whole subset of buyers.
The icing on the cake is that Google Analytics is completely free to use. Anyone with a website can create an account and start collecting data today. The catch is that there's significant setup involved, which can be particularly challenging for non-technical folks. Even worse, if you fail to setup your Google Analytics account correctly, you could be receiving data that misdirects your marketing efforts and wastes money.
This is not an A-Z guide
There are already lots of articles on the internet about how to set up your Google Analytics account from start to finish. They include complicated, technical operations that I'm guessing most people are not going to do themselves. This article is an overview of Google Analytics as it pertains to lead generation and does not delve too deeply into the actual implementation of those strategies.
If you're a real estate agent or entrepreneur, chances are you've got an IT professional to help you out with things like this. You should read this article, see the interesting opportunities presented by Google Analytics, and talk to your tech whiz about how to implement them. Going to them with a more solid notion of what you would like to accomplish (e.g., "I want to know when someone clicks on a property in Newton, MA") will help them tremendously.
If you want to implement these solutions yourself, great! This article will give you a taste of what you can do with Google Analytics. Use it to see what insights are available, then do some digging to figure out implementation. Just remember that a poorly setup Google Analytics dashboard can generate useless and even misleading data.
As a side note for the DIY crowd: if you're creating and managing a website by yourself, you should take a look at our other article "5 Website Template Mistakes and How to Avoid Them".
With that out of the way, let's start with the basics...
Google Analytics in a nutshell
Google Analytics is sorted into Accounts, Properties, and Views. These units are described below:
- Account: Typically you would create an account for each of your businesses.
- Property: One property is usually associated with one website. Each property has a unique tracking ID that Google uses to track user interaction with that site.
- View: A specific subset of data for a given property. You could, for instance, create one view per county in your state.
Views are contained within Properties, and Properties are contained within Accounts.
Data is organized into three reports: Audience, Acquisition, and Behavior.
- Audience: Describes who is visiting your site - whether they are a new or returning user, their geographical location, what browser they're using, what device they're using, etc..
- Acquisition: Describes how people are finding your site (social media, Google search, advertisements, etc.) and what they're doing once they get there.
- Behavior: Describes how people are interacting with your site - what pages they navigate to the most, what pages they do and don't interact with, how long they stay on your site, etc..
There's a ton more to learn about Google Analytics, but this high-level overview gives you an idea of how the application is structured and what sorts of data you can collect.
Exclude internal IP addresses
One of the big problems with Google Analytics is that it provides an enormous amount of data. Not all of that data is useful and you can immediately filter out some subsets of that information.
Before you go applying any filters, Google recommends creating a "Raw Data" view. This is the pure, unfiltered data set for your website - you should never attempt to filter this or otherwise alter it. By establishing a raw data view, you're ensuring that you don't miss out on any information flowing into Google Analytics. You can always go back to the raw data view if you feel like you're missing something.
After you've set that up, the first thing you should do is create a new view for your website, or treat the default "All Web Site Data" view as your master view. Apply a filter to that view that excludes all traffic from your home computer's IP address. You should make sure that your work computers and those of your co-workers are filtered out, as well.
By filtering out these IP addresses, you'll ensure that internal traffic from your home and business are excluded from your Google Analytics reports. This is especially important if you have a fairly low volume of visitors to your website, since a small office could easily skew your Google Analytics reports. You want to know how your customers, clients, and leads are interacting with your website - not your own co-workers.
Exclude CMS referrals
If you're running a blog, you should also make sure to exclude referrals from your own content management system (CMS). For example, the Ghost blogging platform (which is fantastic for blogging) allows you to add blog posts via a ghost.io domain. This serves the same purpose as excluding your own IP address, making sure that the traffic in your Google Analytics reports comes solely from your customers.
You should implement these filters before starting any marketing campaigns - failure to do so could obfuscate the results of your campaign. With that out of the way, we can finally get on to some examples of the insights Google Analytics can give you.
Figure out what people are clicking on
Real estate agents often list their properties on the home page of their websites, allowing potential clients to quickly click on the homes that interest them. In Google Analytics, you can associate events with these listings - when a user clicks on a link to a property, that event is recorded. In this way, you can see which properties people are most interested in. For example, you may find that a large number of users are interested in purchasing real estate in a specific location - you can then use this to inform your marketing strategy.
Figure out what people are searching for
Similarly, if you have a search bar on your page, you can figure out what people are searching for on your site by enabling a feature called "Site Search". You can find this option by going to your Google Analytics View and toggling on the "Site Search Settings" option.
You could find that users are searching for things that are not on your website, in which case you could create new content to satisfy that need. On the other hand, you could discover that users are searching for something that should be easy to find (e.g., "how do I finish my order?"), which would suggest areas on your website that need improvement.
Figure out what pages people are interested in
Many businesses now incorporate a blog into their website for search engine optimization (SEO). Google Analytics allows you to see how users interact with each blog post. You can see the number of sessions, which is essentially the number of people that have viewed your post, and the duration of those sessions. You can also view the bounce rate, which reflects user engagement with your website as a whole (a "bounce" is when a user visits a single page on your website without otherwise interacting with your site).
These metrics give you an idea of which blog posts people enjoyed and which they didn't. A post with a low number of sessions and a high bounce rate, for instance, probably wasn't very popular; conversely, a blog post with a high session duration and low bounce rate was well received. By measuring which blog posts were popular, you can figure out what topics draw in more potential clients.
Real estate specific goals
Goals are another hugely important part of Google Analytics that we'll only scratch the surface of in this article. In short, Google Analytics allows you to establish measurable, quantifiable goals that are tied to specific events on your website. If your business goal is to have people make an appointment, you can establish a related goal in Google Analytics. You can find these settings by navigating to your view of interest and clicking on "Goals".
Google Analytics provides a default real estate goal template, which includes fields like "find an agent" and "contact us", making it even easier for real estate agents to establish measurable goals. These goals are linked to user interactions, such as navigating to a specific location or clicking on a specific link. You can even assign a monetary value to each goal, so that each time the goal is accomplished, Google Analytics records the value earned.
When you're ready to start your marketing campaign, Google Analytics continues to be a source of information. If you're running ads on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, for example, Google Analytics can be configured to identify when traffic is coming from these sites. If you've set up goals, Google Analytics can even help you find which of these groups is the most likely to progress through your marketing funnel.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a related (also free) Google service that you should sign up for. It alerts you to problems on your site, like links that cause 404 (Not Found) errors. More importantly, it shows you what Google searches are putting your site in front of customers. You can figure out how many times they've clicked on your website in the search results, how many times they've seen it, and even what position your site appears in for a given Google search.
First, take a look at the Google Analytics Youtube playlists. The "Analytics Academy - Google Analytics for Beginners" playlist is a great place to start. You can also try out "Analytics Academy - Advanced Google Analytics" if you're feeling up to the task.
This setup article will help you get your account up and running.
Next, once you've figured out how you want to use Google Analytics, start searching around. For instance, if you're looking to track a Facebook ads campaign with Google Analytics, you could look at this article.
You'll notice that many guides refer to "analytics.js" - Google recently switched to a new system called "gtag.js" (AKA Global Site Tag). So keep that in mind when searching for solutions online.
If you're looking at this overview and salivating at the completely free lead generation insights available through Google Analytics, sign up for an account now. Also make sure to sign up for Google Search Console and add your property (your website) there as well. After account creation, you can link your Google Search Console with Google Analytics.
Why should you add your properties to Google Analytics and Search Console now? Because it can take time to build up useful data. At a bare minimum, I would make sure to sign up for these two tools at least a month in advance of any marketing campaigns. This allows you to establish a steady-state condition for your website before you add in any extra variables that may increase/decrease traffic or change user behavior.
I hope this article has given you a small taste for just how powerful Google Analytics can be. If you take the time to set up this free tool on your website, you'll have a golden opportunity to learn about your customers - past, present, and future.
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