As financial advisors, we understand the importance of data-driven decision making. We also fully appreciate the value of great marketing. However, are you using data to drive your digital marketing, or do you just sit back and hope your efforts pay off?

What is Google Analytics?

The intersection of data and marketing is where Google Analytics (GA) comes in. Google Analytics is the industry standard in tracking the visitors to your website. It monitors not only the traffic to your site, but also valuable data linked to those numbers, such as user behavior. (For more from Steve Sanduski, see: Using an Opt-In Box to Grow Your Email List.)

Simply reviewing the number of website visits won’t help you make important marketing decisions. You also need to know such info as which pages your audience explored, how much time they spent there and which pages they were on when they decided to leave your site.

This back-end data can help you tweak your marketing strategy, highlight where to focus your efforts, show you what pages need improvement, and give you confidence that you are doing everything you can to build your business. (For related reading, see: A Financial Advisor’s Guide to Google Analytics.)

Do You Need Analytics?

Will understanding the analytics of your site transform your business or will it just become more busywork on your already full to-do list? Here’s the truth: marketing has changed in recent years and become more complex. Effective marketing is no longer a pretty brochure with pictures of care-free retired people walking on the beach. Today’s marketing involves strategically hunting prospects online, using your website as bait. (For more, see: How to Turn Your Website Into a Magnet for Clients.)

What Google Analytics Tells You

Tracking your analytics will answer these questions:

  • How much traffic did your website get last month?
  • Which pages received the most traffic?
  • Which of your blog posts were the most popular with prospects?
  • How much time did people spend on your site?
  • Which pages did people enter and exit your site from?
  • How much of your traffic came from social media and from which channels?
  • Where should you spend more marketing dollars?

How To Get Started

The perk of GA is that it’s free. You only need a Google account to sign up. Once you have that, you receive the tracking code for your website and then apply it to the back-end of your site. If you didn’t build your web page yourself, you’ll need to give this tracking code to the company that created your page, or your IT person. If you have access to the “Head” of your site, you can copy and paste the tracking code in yourself.

Where to Focus

When you first log into GA, you’re likely to be overwhelmed. Google Analytics tracks so much info that it’s easy to start overanalyzing or focusing too heavily on the numbers without understanding what they mean for your business. Here are the areas you should track and apply to your marketing plan.

1. Audience

Google Analytics’ audience tracking will inform you of the demographics of your site visitors. You can learn their age, gender, location, behavior (whether they are new or returning visitors, for example) and the browser they used.

If a bulk of your users are accessing your site with Internet Explorer, make sure that your website looks great on this browser. The same thing goes if your visitors are using mobile devices. (For related reading, see: Why Harnessing Mobile Technology Is Crucial for Advisors.)

Location is also an important piece of information. If you are based in California, but you suddenly have high numbers of visitors from Brazil, something is going wrong.

Tracking this information will let you know if your efforts are indeed reaching your target audience.

2. Acquisition

This data point is important. It answers the critical question: Where did the traffic come from?

 

You will learn how much traffic came from direct entry of your website into the URL bar, from organic search, email, a referral from another site, or from social media.

If you are investing a chunk of your time in social media but not getting many visitors from that medium, readjust your strategy or examine why. (For more, see: How Financial Advisors Are Leveraging Social Media.)

3. Behavior

This area of GA really drills down to explain where people are going on your site.

You can see what pages are the most popular and where users go from each page. This gives you a map of how users are navigating your website. From here, you can get clues into what makes certain pages popular, and how to guide your visitors to specific pages.

If you see that one of your blog posts has gone viral and has thousands of visits, you should consider repurposing it as a report available for download on your site, as lead capture bait, and perhaps as a LinkedIn or Facebook ad. (For related reading, see: Your Web Presence: How to Maximize It.)

The Next Step

Now that you are inundated with all this data, what do you do with it? How do you apply the numbers to your business? Make sure you regularly track your analytics, either on a weekly or monthly basis. Focus on traffic, acquisitions, and importantly, results.

These three pieces of information will tell you how many people came to your site, how they found you, and how many leads you converted as a result. Take time to review which pieces of your website content performed the best and understand why, so that you can create more compelling content over time.

If you make this a routine practice with your business, you will begin to see how your website is helping you get more exposure. As you fine-tune your marketing, it can help lower your cost of customer acquisition and increase new leads. (For more, see: Using an Opt-In Box to Grow Your Email List.)

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