Google Analytics Benchmarking – What It Means For Your Business
We have always provided competitor analysis and best-case practice examples, but the immensity of information available through the new Google Analytics Benchmarks adds to everyone’s understanding of user behaviour. This does come with some caveats though, as not all the new data is as useful as it initially seems, as Eric explains.
What it tells us:
Benchmarking with Google Analytics acts as a relative strength indicator for your website’s metrics in comparison to similar websites.
As the user, you set the criteria for comparison, according to:
- Industry (Eg: Finance)
- Location (Eg: Australia)
- Number of daily visits (Size by number of sessions)
According to these parameters, Google Analytics then finds the average numbers for sites that fit those specifics. In digital marketing, numbers can be very useful. In this setting, numbers refer to all the useful things that Google Analytics already tells us about your website:
- Where visitors come from (email, direct traffic, search engines, ads)
- How long they spend on your site (session duration)
- How many people take a glance at your site and then close it (bounce rate)
- Which device most of your users use to access your website (desktop computer, tablet, mobile)
- Age of users
- Gender of users
- Behaviour of users depending on various characteristics
- Recorded interests of users
It gives an overall perspective.
These are all numbers that we can find and utilise already. What Benchmarking means, is that we can see what is working for comparable organisations and websites, and adjust accordingly. The comparison view finds average numbers for these characteristics across the sample of websites that fit your parameters, and displays them right next to the numbers for your website.
For example, if you run a financial services company in Melbourne, you can already find out which traffic sources are providing the best return on investment, and what your average user does on your website. While Benchmarking does not allow you to see the same numbers for industry peers, it does provide some benefit:
- It allows you to see the average traffic source mix for industry peers
If the industry average social-media-driven traffic is 30% of all traffic to the website, and your organisation doesn’t have a Facebook page, maybe that is something we could talk about.
- It allows you to pre-empt the effectiveness of new online marketing strategies before you decide to invest in them
If you run a construction company, and the industry average for social-media-driven traffic is 10%, this may not be sufficient to produce a viable return on investment in social media for your organisation. It may be that not many Twitter users are that excited about steel-reinforced concrete. That’s okay. If it’s not going to work as well as other avenues, it is possible to check the viability of an initiative using Benchmarks.
Some things don’t matter.
Be aware that there are some things that Benchmarking will tell you that aren’t really relevant. It is important to remember that behaviour metrics (like bounce rate and time on site) do not necessarily tell you all you need to know about the performance of the site. For this reason, be careful when using benchmarks to compare bounce rate, page sessions, and average session duration, simply because all websites are set up differently, and serve a slightly different purpose.
It is also important to remember that these Benchmarks are simply averages. They are averages of the numbers experienced by websites in your traffic bracket. This in no way implies that these numbers necessarily represent best-case practices. For example, the averages will show a relatively even spread between all areas of a marketing mix. A website is successful simply if it fulfils the purpose for which it was designed. Different purposed websites will exhibit different numbers. For example, an e-commerce site will aim for people clicking ‘buy’ and moving onto different areas of the site, more so than a website designed to act as an information hub.
The marketing mix benchmark average for your website size and industry class will usually be somewhat evenly distributed between all channels. This is not necessarily representative of a best case practice, nor is it representative of what will work best for your firm.
This said, it is important to know which numbers are relevant to your website, and which are not. It’s often easier and more efficient to let someone else filter these for you so you can put the numbers to work.
Being aware of competitors has has always been part of our method at Walter Analytics and Benchmarking will now feed into this. Most users have Benchmarking tracking enabled by default. It provides a large-picture perspective that can be very useful.
Contact us to understand how your website compares to your industry peers.
Data is the future.
Data, whether marketers are aware of it or not, is what drives all marketing decisions. As technology tracks more and more of our lives, data will be used in ways yet unfathomed. There are two quotes from a great book – Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz:
“Know your customers better than they know themselves”
“Know what they talk to their friends about, but more importantly, know what they don’t talk to their friends about.”
This is becoming more and more possible, not just through marketing intuition, but concrete data. There will be more written on this in the education area of Walter Insights, but for now, let this serve as an introduction.
The owner of a convenience store knows that people will buy more ice-creams in summer, so she buys more ice-creams to sell. This is data at work.
The banks know that people who haven’t paid back loans to other providers will be less likely to pay back any future loans. This is data at work.
The kid running the lemonade stand knows that more cars drive past after school and after work hours, so they make sure everything is ready to pour at 3 pm. This is data at work.
All of this information is more exciting when you look at it like this than in a spreadsheet, but it’s the same thing. As a digital marketer, what you need to be aware of is the point at which intuition and common sense fail to provide insight.
- What online behaviours are usually exhibited by an expectant mother two months before the due date?
- How many times will a prospect search for online reviews before they buy a certain type of car?
- Which age group from which location is most likely to buy insurance from your insurance company?
These are all questions that we can now find concrete answers to. For your business, it means that every single point of data you do not collect at every available opportunity is money sliding off the table.
How to get started
Everything a user does online can be tracked. Everything the user does in relation to your website is free game to you, and should be gathered to the best of your ability. The danger here is that the sheer volume of data can be overwhelming. It is of no use to you and your business’s marketing efforts if the data gathered is unusable. If it remains unprocessed and non understood, it cannot be integrated and utilised into your marketing strategy.
As your business and marketing strategies grow, it is important to talk to people who know how to handle and action this data.
“Investing in people and the tools that those people need to be successful is key. But it’s the people who can understand that data that really matter.”
– Bryan Eisenberg
While it is ideal to acquire the best possible tools out there for your trade, bear in mind that the data collected by said tools are only as good as the people who acquire, analyse and process the data.
Contact us to see which data you could be collecting and using better.