A More Human Way To Think About Google Analytics
And Why Google Analytics is Really a Dating App
For a moment, let’s forget that this article is about data analytics.
For a moment, let’s forget about who you are in your organization. Whether you’re a consultant, business owner, or digital marketing manager is irrelevant right now. For these 10 minutes with me, we are simply humans.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to be spiritual nor play any psychological tricks on you. However, the reality is that when we deal with business jargon and hard data all day it is often hard to let go and recapture what really allows us to connect with our customers — our humanity.
As humans, our worlds are made of stories: the stories of our childhood, of our first kiss, of the best pizza we had back in college.
All of these stories come together to make us who we are. Quite simply, the story of our past defines our emotions and behavior today while the envisioned story of our future drives us endlessly forward towards our dreams.
This love, obsession, and craving for stories is something that human beings around the world and across all cultures experience. As business people, it is our job to help mold these stories for those we care about most — our customers.
However, because the modern business environment is so difficult and complex we often forget to empathize with our customers.Rather, we hide behind facts, data, and complex business frameworks.
I am not saying that business frameworks and data aren’t important ( this is a data analytics tutorial after all). However, what I am saying is that we are making things way too complex than they are.
The goal of this article, and of those to to come later, is to show you how to use data tools such as Google Analytics, in combination with simple frameworks, to create great experiences for your customers.
Instead of using the traditional how-to guide format, we are going to relate the analytics process to real-life scenarios. This will not only help facilitate understanding but it will also reinforce the fact that the human experience should come first when working with data.
We are going to start with Google Analytics, not only because it is one of the most accessible and powerful digital analytics tools on the market, but also because it is the platform that most companies first encounter when adopting data-analytics.
The remainder of this article will talk about how Google Analytics can help you enhance your customer’s experience.
I am your customer and I surf the web
If you live in the United States, chances are you can’t live without the internet. In fact, over 88.5% of the U.S. population uses the internet on a daily basis.
Confession time. I personally spend well over 4 hours on the internet every day. This time is spent doing anything from developing the Humanlytics prototype to watching random cat videos on Youtube.
Since modern humans can’t live without the internet, and your business operates in the modern world, your web presence is absolutely crucial for the survival of your business.
Just like the offline retail business, the digital marketing world is all about understanding your customers so you can serve them well. Because of this, let’s start our conversation by placing ourselves in the perspective me, an active internet user, and to many of you, a potential customer.
During the 4 hours I spend on the internet every day, I am exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of web pages and advertisements. However, just like any other internet user, I will, almost certainly, only remember 10–20 of them on any given day.
This means that, even if you have placed an advertisement to target customers similar to me, I probably have seen the ads, but just ignored them because they do not interest me and I am too busy minding my own businesses.
So the question has become: How can you make get me to notice and engage with your ad?
How to get me to notice your ad in the crowd of thousands.
This question is the marketer’s version of the question to “life, universe, and everything” (and the answer is not 42).
We probably won’t solve this question in our lifetimes, but, in recent years, we’ve been getting closer than we ever have before.
To answer this question, you should ask me a different question (which you can ask yourself too): “When was the last time you saw something that made you decide to visit that website?”
For me, it was an advertisement for the new Amazon series “Thunderbirds Are Go” that I saw on twitch.tv.
The reason this advertisement was able to convince me to take action are as follows.
- I was looking for a new series to watch since I had just finished “Bojack Horseman” on Netflix
- I was continuously bombarded by its advertising, which was fairly catchy.
- I enjoy watching animated shows similar to “Thunderbirds Are Go.”
The reason I visited this series’ website can be summarized in one sentence:
I am the show’s target audience and it bombarded (or re-targeted) me across various channels with great precision.
The principle at work here is rather simple: Identify your core audience and the channels you frequent and, through these channels, continually expose them to your message.
How to identify your target audience. Hint: It’s like dating
This principle sounds easy. It’s the same idea as asking out the girl you have a crush on. Except, this time, you are courting thousands if not tens of thousands of people at the same time. This is good news! Your chances are pretty good.
The first principle of dating or reaching your target audience is to know who they are.
Although digital marketing enables you to “date” many people at the same time, your success rate will be much higher if you are able to identify the group that has the highest likelihood of liking you back.
So, are they male, female, or other? What are their interests? What do they do on a daily basis? These are all great questions to ask Good news: Google Analytics can help with them.
What Google Analytics can do is let you know which customers or audiences already interact with you on a significantly higher level than other groups. This lets you know that when you reach out to these people you have a reasonably good chance of getting their attention.
This is the equivalent of dating a guy or girl who is similar to someone you had a great experience with in the past. Knowing the kind of people you are compatible with is a big step in the process of finding people you can have a good time with. You just need to figure out who these people are.
Thus, the first fundamental business question of Google Analytics, “Who is your target audience?”, can be answered. (Google Analytics Fundamental Question 1).
How to interact with your core audience
Okay, so you now you have a target to aim for. However, in order to make make them love you, you need to find them at places they frequent and repeatedly engage with them to get their attention and interest. This is exactly what “Thunderbird” did to me.
Although the internet gives you the power to be “present” in many channels at the same time, you still need to figure out the specific locations where I will be most likely show up in order to most efficiently allocate your money. Standing on the corner with roses in front of every single building might get their attention but I’m not sure the reaction would be good…
You can use Google Analytics to conduct “digital tracing” of your potential customers.
Using this tactic, Google Analytics can not only tell you where most of your core audience groups come from, but also how they interact with your website when they are on your site and how this interaction varies depending on the channel they come from.
This answers Google Analytics Fundamental Question 2: “Where are my visitors coming from?”.
But wait, noticing doesn’t mean that I am buying
Let’s bring it back to me.
The story so far can be summarized as follows: “I saw your advertisement that’s tailored towards my interests placed on the specific channel that I frequent, so I engaged with your website.”
However, noticing something and buying it are two different things.. I visit multiple e-commerce and service companies’ pages every day without spending a cent on anything. So, your job is not finished. Now you need to use your website to convince me to make a purchase.
In order to do that, you need to know more than who I am and where I come from. You also need to make a website that is pleasant and also engenders a sense of trust.
Let’s go back to dating. Imagine that you finally invited the love of your life to dinner.
Now, if you’re good looking, present yourself well, and know what your date is interested in, you have a pretty good shot of landing a second date.
The same principles apply to digital marketing, except that your interactions take place on a website instead of around a dinner table.
Notice that, just like on a date, looks aren’t enough. A pleasant website experience is based on great design as well as great utility.
The best website I have seen is amazon.com, so let’s take a look.
First of all, while the website doesn’t have any fancy graphics what it does have is a ton information that is relevant to me.
It knows that I am coming onto the site to make a purchase, so without any pretext, it shows me what to buy and what the deals are on the very first page. This might not work when dating, but for shopping it’s perfect.
As I am browse the site, I come into contact with page after page that is designed to show me all of the information I need to know to make a purchase. It also links me to related purchases so I can buy more.
Overall, there are two reasons that Amazon has a great website.
- It provides the exact information I need on each page,
- It provides me with a great page-to-page experience so I can do whatever I want quickly and efficiently.
While Google Analytics can’t help you optimize your website to the degree Amazon does (they spend millions of dollars every year doing so), it can get you started on the two most fundamental aspects of website optimization:
- How to optimize your page-to-page web experience? (Google Analytics Fundamental Question 3)
- How to optimizing each page for maximum effectiveness? (Google Analytics Fundamental Question 4)
Okay, I’m ready to purchase
If you target me with 1) advertisements that suit my interests 2) are located in channels that I frequent and 3) lead to a website that engenders a trustworthy and compelling experience, there is a very high chance that I will make a purchase.
But, just like any relationship, even if you and your date hit it off you might split for other reasons.
In fact, even for Amazon, the conversion rate hovers around 13%. This means that roughly 1 in 10 of new customers make a purchase.
So don’t get frustrated if your customer decides not to make a purchase after heavily engaging with your site. That’s just the nature of the business.
In this situation what you should do is analyze that customer’s experience and figure out how you can make their interactions even better so the next time someone similar comes through, they’re more likely to make a purchase.
And, guess what: Google Analytics can help with that! It aggregates the experiences of all of the customers on your website to help you improve upon them. This will lead to a better experience for your customers and, eventually, more purchases.
This is the final question Google Analytics can answer: “How is your conversion rate overall, and how can you improve it?” (Google Analytics Fundamental Question 5)
Deeper Into Google Analytics
So there you go. We just covered the 5 fundamental business questions Google Analytics can answer about your business as defined by the simple framework we outlined in a past article.
In the next post of this series we are going to go into Google Analytics and talk about how we can answer those 5 business questions with real numbers.
We are going to begin by showing you a way to quickly determine the overall performance of your website using the eight basic metrics of Google Analytics. We’ll then dive deeper into each of the questions to show you how to best address them.
This week, we took a step back and revisited the most fundamental topic of Google Analytics: the kind of business questions it can answer. This time, we are going to take a fun and easy-to-understand approach to what many consider a dry and difficult topic. We’re calling it our “Pop Analytics” series. Let us know if you like this approach in the comments section. Thanks!
If you prefer to read a more-detailed but also more technical version of this article, please check it out here.
- Let us know what you think about our new Pop Analytics series here: bitly.com/HMLsurvey
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- Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to test our upcoming Google analytics web tool prototype. Oh, and did we mention it’s free!