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Better content marketing starts with better content marketing analysis on Google Analytics. Still, many businesses don’t know how to get started, and they aren’t aware just how big a return on investment a quality analytics deep-dive can bring to their bottom line.
There’s enough detail to write a book about this topic, and many have been written. But in this post, I’ll give you an overview of how your business could build a better content marketing strategy with Google Analytics.
Get a Bird’s Eye View
The first task to accomplish is to create a high-level overview of your website in Google Analytics. This is both a basic and not so basic task. It’s basic because you need to get out of the jungle of your content and up above the territory for a better vantage point. But that’s not so easy because many sites with lots of content make this difficult by design.
For example, the design templates of some out-of-the-box e-commerce websites have a habit of attaching long query strings of parameters to the URLs of each product detail page (PDP). This can also be the case for other content-heavy sites, like news sites or library sites. If you’ve ever looked up at the browser address bar and seen a URL with hundreds of gibberish character strings that run off the screen, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Now, this query info is important for the functionality of the site, either for technical or display purposes. But for Google Analytics, the endless combinations of parameters generates thousands of individual pages. You might believe your site sells only 1,000 products, but Google might count 10,000,000.
You’ve first got to get a handle on this to make any sense of your content marketing. That entails being able to exclude query parameters that atomize your data.
Group Your Content Data
Let’s say you’ve successfully slain the query string dragon. Your millions of atomized pages now show up in Google Analytics grouped into your 1,000 product detail pages. This is much better than millions of individualized data points, but too much jungle to sort through. You need an even higher bird’s eye view.
Getting there means grouping your content marketing data into content groups. Categories of PDPs will help you start grouping together similar types of content, and in this case, products. Define very broad content “buckets” and start filling them with your 1,000 PDPs.
Now, these groups need to be meaningful and actionable, and likely they’ll be closely related to how your content is marketed on the user side of your site. Several typical problems can come up as you sort. Too few or too many categories can high important content marketing insights. Ideally, you don’t want dozens of groups, but two or three may be too few. Another issue that can pop up is where one miscellaneous group ends up with half your site’s pageviews. Choose groupings wisely to drill down further into that data.
Dig Into the Data
Once you’ve got your analytic data filtered and grouped, you can start to make a better analysis of your content marketing strategy. You’ll do this by zooming in on key data points and comparing group performance.
One place to start is the page value metric. You can view page value data (transaction revenue plus goal value, divided by unique pageviews) by setting up content groups and implementing e-commerce transaction tracking.
The result will be a dollar value per pageview for each category. And this can tell you a lot — which content grouping has the highest dollar figure, which category just isn’t selling, and importantly where there’s room for improvement, say, groupings where there are many pageviews but low conversions.
Another important metric to examine at this stage is journey analysis. Navigation pathway reports can let you compare where visitors started their site journey and where they went next or where they left the site. The Behavior Flow report digs deeper into this data in a more visual manner. Still for other businesses, knowing entrance and exit pages, time on page metrics, and pages per session metrics may be the key.
Focus on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
As you analyze this data, certain things will stand out. Stop, notice them, and make a note to dig into the most important findings later. This is the key to putting Google Analytics to work for your business.
Recall that page value metric where you noticed plenty of pageviews but disappointing conversions. With your analytics, this is now a solvable problem. You can begin isolating variables to see what could be causing the low performance. Are visitors abandoning their carts? Are they moving on to other product categories? Are they bouncing from the site from the PDP, meaning perhaps your content marketing could use some improvement? The data may even give you a good sense of what improvements should be made.
If you can answer these questions, you are one step closer to coming up with answers and one step closer to improving your CRO. Finally, a couple of Google Analytics resources: If you’re looking for a more detailed look at this topic, this article by Paul Koks is a good place to start. And if you’d like to see this kind of data in action, Google Analytics maintains a great demo account.