3 KPIs in Google Analytics All Businesses Should Be Checking

The amount of information a business can pull from Google Analytics can get overwhelming. Here are three KPIs you should check everyday.

As any business owner or marketer will tell you, there never seems to be enough hours in the day. There’s always another task that needs completed or another meeting to attend.

This is why navigating the vast amounts of data provided by Google Analytics can seem like a daunting and time-consuming task. But, as one small business owner to another, I’m here to tell you about three key performance indicators (KPIs) you should focus on as you review your Google Analytics account.

A quick overview of Google Analytics

Before we dive deep into the key data you should be checking, let’s first look at the benefits of implementing Google Analytics on your website.

Google Analytics is a free, easy-to-use tool that provides you with a wide range of data relating to your website. Just embed the unique code into your site and in time you will have access to data such as:

  • Website traffic;
  • top landing pages;
  • where users are coming from;
  • what devices they are using; and
  • bounce rate.

Today, however, we are going to focus on some key performance metrics that all business owners and marketers should be looking at as part of their digital data analysis – sessions, traffic by channel, and goals/e-commerce data.

Sessions: Overall and unique

One of the first things I like to look at when reviewing Google Analytics is the sessions and unique users.

  • Sessions (formerly referred to as visits)—a metric that gives you an idea of how many visits you are getting to your website
  • Unique users (formerly referred to as unique visitors)—a metric that tells you how many people are visiting your website

For instance, if someone visits your website several times within a given month, each session (visit) will be tracked, but they will only be counted as one unique user.

Obviously, we want to see the number of sessions increase each year to help indicate the success of our digital marketing efforts, but it’s also equally important to see the number of unique users increase year to year as well.

This allows you to track how effectively your marketing efforts are at bringing in new potential customers to your website.

Traffic by channel

The next KPI metric you should be looking at is the traffic/sessions by specific channel.

Google breaks down your traffic in terms of specific channels, allowing you to better determine which of your marketing efforts is working best so you can decide where to focus your efforts moving forward.

The main channels we tend to focus on include:

  • Organic—This refers to any traffic that comes through people performing a search via search engines such as Google or Bing and clicking on a link to your website. This is where digital marketing efforts like search engine optimization truly show their success.
  • Direct—This is anytime someone types your website’s specific URL into the address bar. Direct traffic tends to be either returning users or someone who saw your URL from some form of traditional marketing.
  • Paid—Paid can include traffic coming from any type of pay-per-click campaigns you might be running, including Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads or LinkedIn Ads. These users are people who clicked on one of your ads and were taken to your website.

By reviewing the individual traffic channels, you can get a better idea of the ROI of your digital marketing efforts.

Goals and e-commerce Data

The final KPI metric you should be reviewing is your goals/e-commerce data.

Once you implement goal tracking and/or e-commerce tracking on your website (which is not set up by default), it not only allows you to see how many people are reaching out to you/purchasing through your website, but it also allows you to see which channel your leads came from.

There are many goals you can set up on your site, but I typically create thank-you pages for clients to track form submissions on their sites. I’ve found this helps provide a more accurate assessment of the digital efforts.

Whatever you decide, though, make sure you’re tracking it! This will help you prove ROI and track sales through your pipeline long term.

If you have a question about this or any of the other KPI metrics in Google Analytics, feel free to reach out to Sixth City Marketing! We also have a YouTube webinar that walks you through Google Analytics too.

John Sammon is the CEO of Sixth City Marketing, a Cleveland-based agency focused on helping businesses create a revenue-generation system through online marketing channels (such as SEO, PPC and social media).

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  • Next up: 3 Things to Know: Social Media and Your Business

    3 Things to Know: Social Media and Your Business

    You know you need to promote your business on social media, but is what you’re doing really working for you? We’ve pulled together articles from Mind Your Business that can help you maximize your social presence.

    Our Mind Your Business authors have provided important advice over the years regarding the use of social media for small businesses. Here are three things our experts think you should know when it comes to establishing an effective social presence and growing your business on these platforms.  

    The first thing you should know is that running social media for a business is much different than running your personal page. It takes time and effort to effectively use social media in a professional setting. Here are eight tips to perfecting your approach. Additionally, with the casual atmosphere of social media, it can be hard to know how to keep it professional. Here’s how to connect effectively with your audience while still staying businesslike.

    The second thing you need to know is that effective social media is more than just getting some likes on Facebook. Vanity metrics (likes, shares and retweets) can be useful in determining which content users find the most appealing. But regularly checking out link click statistics will really get to the heart of how effective your posts are and if they are driving traffic where it matters most. Optimize your campaigns and reach real customers with these five tips. And, there are some social media channels you may have not yet heard of, but that can do wonders to help build your business. Learn which under-the-radar platforms might be a good fit, and perhaps challenge yourself to fold a new one into your current social media strategy for 2019.

    The third thing you need to know is that social is not a standalone strategy. A social presence has shown to be an effective and easy way to establish a connection with prospective and current customers, but it is definitely not the only way. A successful business will not merely throw some posts up on its Facebook page and call it a day. It is important to incorporate other tactics into an overall, cohesive marketing strategy. Here are five reasons why you need to be in the business of making videos, as well as three questions to ask as you’re creating your video strategy. And don’t just post it and forget it—repurpose your copy and give it new life by turning it into a blog post, digital ad, video, etc.

    Video is also a big part of social marketing. Want to learn more on using video to amplify your marketing and drive results? Register for our free WebEd Series webinar on February 20 where we will be joined by Sixth City Marketing CEO John Sammon, who will tell you how to optimize your video marketing strategy and bring new business to your company.


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  • Next up: 4 Issues to Know in November: A Voting Guide

    4 Issues to Know in November: A Voting Guide

    Voters on November 3rd will be confronted with a bevy of important issues when they arrive at the ballot box. (By the way, early voting has already begun. Contact your County Board of Elections and cast your vote today!) As Election Day draws nearer, COSE is providing the below voting guide to help further explain what the following issues are all about. After careful consideration with the COSE Advocacy Committee and COSE Board, as well as business leaders from around Northeast Ohio, here are COSE’s recommendations on each of the four issues listed below.

    Voters on November 3rd will be confronted with a bevy of important issues when they arrive at the ballot box. (By the way, early voting has already begun. Contact your County Board of Elections and cast your vote today!) As Election Day draws nearer, COSE is providing the below voting guide to help further explain what the following issues are all about.

    After careful consideration with the COSE Advocacy Committee and COSE Board, as well as business leaders from around Northeast Ohio, here are COSE’s recommendations on each of the four issues listed below.

    Vote NO on Issue 3: Legalized marijuana

    One of the more polarizing issues to be decided was brought forward to grant blanket legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational use. If passed, this would make Ohio the first state in the country to legalize recreational use and medical use of marijuana at the same time. In the small number of other states that legalized recreational marijuana (four states and the District of Columbia), medical marijuana use laws were in place first before taking the step to legalize recreational use.

    The group pushing for this ballot measure is dubbed “ResponsibleOhio” and is made up of a handful of investors that stand to reap the financial benefits should the issue pass; commercial marijuana would only be grown at 10 sites belonging to these individuals. The marijuana monopoly that Issue 3 would allow for has even caused long-time legalization advocates to publicly oppose it.  But, beyond the questions this proposed Constitutional amendment raises and the unknown effects of legalization, there is also the issue of timing and the fact that the state is ill-prepared to manage the potential repercussions.

    While the exact economic impact this proposal would have remains unclear, passage would mean small businesses around the state would be forced to undertake new requirements for how they manage employees. For example, the amendment language would require employers to treat medical marijuana like prescription drugs and it could require employers to accommodate medical marijuana in the workplace. Employers need to review and update their human resource policies and how their business treats the use of prescription drugs. 

    Passage would also bring about a number of workplace safety concerns, as discussed here.

    COSE recommends voting NO on Issue 3.

    Vote YES on Issue 2: Limit monopolies and oligopolies

    Going hand-in-hand with the marijuana legalization effort is a separate, but related issue that aims to limit monopolies and oligopolies in the state. If Issue 2 wins approval, voters would still have the opportunity to suspend the prohibition on monopolies and oligopolies for specific future issues and vote on whether those issues are in the best interest of the people of the state.

    There would be a limited number of marijuana growers allowed if Issue 3 were to pass because it would maximize the profit for the handful of marijuana investors tied to the “ResponsibleOhio” campaign.  Supporting Issue 2 would help protect the Ohio Constitution from “ResponsibleOhio’s” initiative and make it more difficult to grant monopolistic enterprises in the future.

    COSE recommends voting YES on Issue 2.

    Vote YES on Issue 1: State legislative redistricting

    Gerrymandering has long been a familiar part of Ohio politics, where the majority party has had the opportunity to slice and dice the map to best suit their preferred candidates’ needs (and their odds of winning future elections.)

    One group is trying to change that – or at least limit the amount of gerrymandering that occurs when drawing state legislative districts. Fair Districts for Ohio is advocating for a bi-partisan plan to improve upon the way the state approaches redistricting for state legislators. This would be the first major overhaul to Ohio’s process of drawing state legislative districts in over 40 years and here’s, in part, how the plan would work:

    • Would create a new seven-member bipartisan panel called the “Ohio Redistricting Commission.”
    • The commission would have at least two members from the minority party.
    • Would require at least two votes from each party in order to approve a district plan, otherwise a temporary plan is put in place and the commission must reconvene to redraw it.
    • Would create a process for the Ohio Supreme court to order the commission to redraw the map if the plan favors one political party.
    • Keep communities together by requiring a district plan to split as few counties, municipal corporations, and townships as possible.

    The ballot measure has received overwhelming support from Republican and Democratic lawmakers as well as a wide array of organizations around the state extending from the Ohio Education Association to unions to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

    COSE recommends voting YES on Issue 1.

    Vote YES on Issue 8: Arts and culture

    A renewal is on the ballot for arts and cultural institutions in the region that would continue to provide a dedicated revenue source for Cuyahoga County’s arts and culture scene. The amount of arts programming our region has to offer is a testament to the levy’s impact. The issue is not a tax increase.  It would continue the current 1.5 cents tax per cigarette sold in Cuyahoga County to support arts and cultural organizations.

    “People have seen the return on the investment,” says Tom Schorgl, President & CEO of the Community Partnership for Arts & Culture. And, the initiative has been held up as a national model for how to establish strategic public and private partnerships for arts and cultural programs.

    The tax, approved by voters in 2006, has funded such efforts as art education in schools, neighborhood programming and more. And, the funding is especially important for non-profits because organizations such as those can have a difficult time securing operating dollars needed to open the doors and actually run the organization.

    “I think one of the most important things is a lot of people have experienced first-hand arts and culture programming,” Schorgl says. “Over half of the programs offered that have received support have been free, so access has increased exponentially. People from all walks of life in every corner of Cuyahoga County have seen those results and have connected with it personally.”

    COSE recommends voting YES on Issue 8.


    As you can see, the outcome of this year’s vote will have a significant impact on Northeast Ohio. COSE encourages you to get out and make your voice heard!

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  • Next up: 4 Ways to DIY Your Marketing Efforts

    4 Ways to DIY Your Marketing Efforts

    To get the best marketing results, you should hire an employee dedicated to marketing or hire an agency to do the work. (Full disclosure: As a marketing professional, I am legally obligated to say that.) However, as a small business owner myself, I know those options are not always viable. We have to DIY some/most/all of our marketing, and it’s not easy. 

    To get the best marketing results, you should hire an employee dedicated to marketing or hire an agency to do the work. (Full disclosure: As a marketing professional, I am legally obligated to say that.)

    However, as a small business owner myself, I know those options are not always viable. We have to DIY some/most/all of our marketing, and it’s not easy.

    Here are four tips I’ve learned about DIYing your marketing through experiences I’ve had with my company, Fashionably Cleveland, a publication spotlighting the Northeast Ohio style scene.

    1. Make the most of your network.

    When applicable, try to manage mutually beneficial arrangements between your company and members of your professional and personal network.

    One commonly used example is guest blogging. If your website has a blog, solicit content relevant to your brand from people you know. When you post the blog, include a link to that person’s website (or company website), and share the blog itself like crazy across your social media and other marketing channels. You get some great, SEO-friendly content to help drive traffic to your site, and the blog writer benefits from traffic to his or her site as well. Everyone wins!

    2. Be nice to the media.

    Give journalists a story to tell. After all, that is their job and the easier you make it for them, the more likely they are to give you coverage. Come up with unique angles for a journalist to capture, and pitch that story to the media. (Pro tip: The fact you own a company isn’t usually regarded as a story in and of itself.)

    One of my media coverage success stories came as a result of Fashionably Cleveland hosting a fashion blogger event. It was something that didn’t often happen in the area, and Fox 8 picked up on the press release I sent the station about it. As a result, I, along with the three fashion bloggers that were being featured at the event, appeared on the Fox 8 morning show. It not only promoted the event itself, but also the Fashionably Cleveland brand. 

    3. Automate as much as you can (without turning your brand into a robot.)

    You can cover a lot more ground, marketing-wise, if you take advantage of some automated marketing. You have to be strategic in what you automate, though—we’ve all seen brands that send out the same verbiage on Facebook and Twitter at the same time, and as a result, the message is dulled. Your audience wants to know there is a person behind your message, not a machine.

    I use Mailchimp for the Fashionably Cleveland newsletter, and with some initial setup, it allows you to automatically generate a newsletter using your site’s RSS feed. Although it did take some technological finagling to set up at first, it has saved me so much time each week from when I used to create the newsletter manually, and it has the exact same content. This way, I’ve freed up some of my time and my subscribers don’t notice any difference when the newsletter arrives in their inboxes each week.

    4. Spend your time where you see the most return.

    Your time is valuable, so it’s important to make the most of your marketing efforts. If you let it, social media alone can swallow up a lot of your time, and it’s smart to make sure you’re spending time where it matters most.

    In terms of social media, I have an engaged Twitter audience for Fashionably Cleveland, so that is definitely worth my marketing time. A decent chunk of traffic to my site comes from Facebook referrals, so I make sure to keep up with the Fashionably Cleveland Facebook page as well. And with the huge popularity among fashion bloggers and brands on Instagram, I’ve made sure to make the Fashionably Cleveland Instagram a priority, too. That said, you don’t need to be on every social network.

    For instance, LinkedIn isn’t really the place people go to read about style, so I do minimum work on the Fashionably Cleveland LinkedIn page—just enough to benefit from the inbound links it provides.

    As a small business owner, it’s not often viable to farm out all of your marketing efforts. But with a little strategic thinking on your part, you can do a pretty darn good job DIYing your company’s marketing.

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  • Next up: 4 Ways to Refresh Your Brand

    4 Ways to Refresh Your Brand

    Is your brand as dull and passé as 2017? The start to a new year is a good time to refresh your branding, and we’ve got four easy and cost-effective tips to getting started.

    For many of us, the start of 2018 brings an air of excitement and opportunities. Optimism for growth and success abounds as new goals for the year start being executed.  A brand new year creates an opportunity to look at your company’s branding as well. Unfortunately, many small businesses don’t regularly evaluate their branding, which can lead to a stale and outdated look and feel.  

    A business does not have to go through a complete rebrand to stay modern and interesting. Every business can see value in making simple updates to better connect your brand with the continually evolving perceptions and values of customers.   

    Here are four easy and cost-effective tips to freshening up your branding:

    Tip No. 1: Update your messaging

    One of the most important components of a brand is messaging. These are the statements that articulate what the company stands for and what value you bring to the market. You don’t need to completely change messaging, but it is important to look at your tagline, value statements and communications to the market and identify if small adjustments can be made to better represent your brand.

    Tip No. 2: Update your online visuals

    Review your existing social media and website images and leverage new images that better represent your business today. You may want to highlight new services, new team members or showcase examples of your recent work. In addition, consider incorporating a new video in creative ways across your social and digital platforms.

    Tip No. 3: Simplify and clean up your collateral

    If collateral such as digital flyers, printed brochures and other materials are a key component of your marketing efforts, make sure to take stock of what you currently use and get rid of items that are outdated. Perhaps consider a slight design adjustment such as color accents, new images and updated design elements. Finally, make sure that your collateral pieces are consistent and align well with the visual images across physical and digital platforms.

    Tip No. 4: Leverage new tactics to promote your brand

    If you are not currently using social media, build an approach to promotion through social. If you do have a social presence already, consider giving other forms of social media a try in 2018. If you aren’t using video or email marketing, explore those avenues. If you haven’t thought about promotional items or print marketing, investigate creative ideas in these areas. The bottom line here is to do something different, but make sure it still aligns with your growth strategy.

    By changing messaging, updating visuals (both digital and physical), creating consistent marketing pieces and utilizing new ways to promote your brand, you can establish a fresh look for your customers and prospects.

    Nevin Bansal is the president and CEO of Outreach Promotional Solutions.

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  • Next up: 5 Ways Podcasting Can Ramp Up Your Content Marketing Strategy

    5 Ways Podcasting Can Ramp Up Your Content Marketing Strategy

    If you don't know about podcasts or podcasting—or don't get why everyone seems to be talking about them—odds are you soon will. In this mid & post-COVID business environment we find ourselves in, podcasting can help businesses maintain the crucial top-of-mind visibility needed to remain viable and competitive.

    Audio content is taking the marketing world by storm. Consumers in larger numbers every year are listening to podcasts. Consider for example these podcasting metrics from Convince and Convert:

    • More than half of Americans over the age of 12 (about 144 million) have listened to a podcast, 32% listen at least once a month—and about 25% listen to a podcast every week
    • The number of Americans who listen to at least 1 podcast every week is four times the number who watched the final season premiere of Game of Thrones
    • The most avid podcast fans listen to at least 7 podcasts a week
    • Consumers who listen to podcasts are generally higher income (most make in excess of $75,000 a year)
    • More than half of listeners say they're more likely to buy the products they hear advertised on a podcast (and almost 20% say they're "much more likely")

    These statistics were all curated before the world turned upside down amidst the COVID lockdowns. With people restricted more and more to their homes, podcasting is only growing in demand and popularity.

    WHAT EXACTLY IS PODCASTING?

    Well, to begin, "podcast" is a portmanteau of two words—iPod and broadcast, but it's much more than that if you want to understand its appeal. In one recent survey of podcast enthusiasts, for example, the four words people used most frequently to describe podcasts were:

    1. Free;
    2. On-demand;
    3. Niche; and
    4. Talk radio.

    But the whole of what podcasts are is a good deal more the sum of its constituent appeals. Perhaps the best definition of what podcasting is all about comes from Podcast Insights, as follows:

    "It's all of your favorite blogs, shows, and topics (some you didn't even know you'd enjoy!) wrapped up in a huge hub of recordings (Apple Podcasts, etc) that you can explore, download and listen to on your own time. In the car, at work, at home, working out, anywhere. If you can Google it, there's probably a Podcast about it!"

    HOW CAN PODCASTING HELP YOUR BUSINESS?

    A wide variety of organizations push out podcasts—everything from large enterprise companies to small, local businesses as well as individuals, radio and television networks, churches and podcast-only networks (like Gimlet). That's because the format is both extremely versatile and extremely appealing to diverse audiences.

    And that means local businesses like yours are also getting onto the podcasting bandwagon. Specifically, podcasts can do the following 5 things for your small, local business:

    1.  THEY CAN PROMOTE YOUR EXPERTISE

    Done right, podcasting can establish you as an authority in your business. If you're a local landscaper, you can talk about how to prepare your listeners' plants and shrubs for the winter. If you're a contractor, you can talk about the cost-saving value of proper insulation. By showing how well you know your business, a podcast can make you the person your listeners call when they have questions and problems.

    2.  THEY CAN HUMANIZE YOU

    Your voice on audio, perhaps answering an interviewer's questions, will convey the nuances of your messaging in a way text alone simply can't (how, for example, do you effectively convey humor or caring in a blog?). Effective inbound marketing is all about building trust—about creating an indelible connection between you and prospective customers. A podcast that addresses issues they care about in a personal and human manner is one of the best ways to create that connection and build that trust.

    3.  THEY CAN NURTURE YOUR LEADS

    Many podcasts are offered in a series format, with a set of pieces all on a single subject pushed out over time (or pushed out all at once to accommodate binge podcast listeners). Say, for example, yours is a car repair business. You could create a podcast series on the most common car repair problems consumers encounter and how to fix them. This will give you the opportunity to talk about the repair services your business offers. As you do so, you'll be moving leads unobtrusively and naturally through the buyer's journey, from window shoppers to loyal customers.

    RELATED: Read more by Nachum Langsner.

    4.  THEY CAN POLISH YOUR BRAND

    A well-designed podcast is one of the best ways to reinforce and extend the reach of your brand. From articulating your value proposition to capturing your tone of voice, a podcast can bring your brand down to earth, making it tangible, approachable, and real. If you take the time to do your podcast right, it can make your brand a "household name" in a way other types of content can't do nearly so well.

    5.  THEY CAN BOOST YOUR SEO STRATEGY

    An effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is all about creating valuable, consumer-friendly content. You can do that with things like blogs and how-to videos—but you can also use smart SEO strategies that will increase the ranking of your podcasts in iTunes and Google Play to drive more traffic to your website. Among the most effective podcast SEO strategies are:

    • creating a podcast headline that includes your most important keywords, matches your podcast content and makes clear what your podcast is about;
    • optimizing your RSS feed (this will syndicate your podcast on the major podcast platforms);
    • encouraging external links to your website (based on the authority of your podcast); and
    • recycling content from your best podcasts as blogs, articles, videos, slide presentations and infographics.

    HOW HARD ARE PODCASTS TO SET UP?

    Many local marketers understand how a good podcast can help them hit their key marketing targets but, because they're not familiar with them, assume podcasts must be difficult to set up. In fact, podcasting is relatively simple and easy. All you really need is a computer with a voice recorder (a high-quality microphone is a good idea). For best results, you should also get some strong audio editing software. Once your podcast is produced, you'll want to maximize your number of listeners by distributing it on iTunes and top podcast directories.

    One of the great things about inbound marketing is that it effectively levels the playing field, making it easier for small, local businesses like yours to compete with the big guys on the block. A key to inbound marketing success is a smart content marketing strategy—and in this mid to post-COVID world, podcasting can be a critical component of that strategy. Of course, some of the nuances of inbound marketing can be a bit complicated—one of the reasons your best bet is to partner with a forward-leaning digital marketing agency who can give you the guidance you need to succeed.


    Nachum Langsner is the Co-Founder and CMO of LocalBizGuru. He has over 10+ years of experience in the SEO industry and is a frequent presenter and instructor of SEO seminars for entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Greater Cleveland area for organizations such as Jumpstart, the Better Business Bureau, COSE, Score and the Ohio SBDC at CSU.

    Learn more about LocalBizGuru's local search, content marketing, site audit and repair, listings optimization, and review generation services—and see how they can help you generate more leads, boost conversions, increase profitability and grow. 

     

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