Google Analytics is a free platform that tracks users as they interact with websites or mobile apps. It’s by far the most popular analytics tool in the world, and rightly so – Google Analytics offers users a vast array of data on visitors to their sites. It’s an essential part of monitoring your content marketing strategy.
You can use Google Analytics to adjust your strategy on the fly, allowing you to produce more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Blog topics that get lots of traffic and engagement can be covered again. Landing pages with scary bounce rates can be flagged for an urgent re-write.
But of course none of that is possible if you haven’t added Google Analytics to your site properly. It’s really important to remember that analytics data cannot be backdated. That means if you’re 3 months in before you notice the tag isn’t on your new blog you’ll have a permanent blind spot.
Chances are you already have Google Analytics set up on your website and you might even be in there checking on your key metrics and fiddling with your advanced settings on a daily basis. Google Analytics can be a great tool for content marketers and like all the technical aspects of content marketing you really need to understand it yourself – at least at some level – rather than relying on others.
How can Google Analytics measure content marketing ROI?
This is going to depend on the measurable goals you set during the planning stage. But whether you define your ROI as engagement (time on site, pageviews, bounce rate); leads (form fills, downloads); or sales, you can track it all in Google Analytics.
Here are some basic tips for monitoring common content marketing metrics in Google Analytics:
- Content Drilldown: find the best-performing sections of your site on sessions, views, bounce rate etc. This works best if you have a good breadcrumb URL structure (your-domain.com.au/folder/sub-folder);
- Source / Medium: discover how users are getting to your site. Source will tell you the referring site (Facebook, Google etc), while Medium gives you the broader type (organic search, social media etc);
- Goals: track specific conversions and attach dollar values to those conversions. This is essential for figuring out the ROI you’re getting for particular campaigns. You can read more about setting up Goals in Google Analytics here;
- User Paths: look at where your users are going after landing on your site. This is a good way to spot big problems with important pages. You can read more about User Paths in Google Analytics here;
- Multi-channel Functions: understand the different interactions users have had with your content higher up the conversion funnel. You can read more about Multi-channel Functions in Google Analytics here.
What is Google Tag Manager and do I need it?
Google Analytics uses a tracking code, which you need to add to every page on your site to get reliable, consistent data. And while Google Analytics is the most popular analytics platform it probably won’t be the only tracking code you’ll need.
Rather than having to regularly access your website’s back-end you can use Google Tag Manager to create a single container tag. Once that’s set up, you can add a Google Analytics tag or whatever other tags you need all through Google Tag Manager.
Google Tag Manager is exactly the sort of tool a semi-technical content marketer needs. You don’t want to be editing code (because maybe you don’t know how) or constantly raising support requests with your tech team (nobody likes doing that). If you get Google Tag Manager set up and learn how to use it you’ve got personal control over your Google Analytics and your other tracking needs in one place.
How can I become a Google Analytics expert?
Google does a pretty good job with its free tutorials and there are plenty of third parties making helpful videos in the hope that you’ll buy their SEO software. So if you’re trying to figure out how to do something specific and you have the right level of access, it’s just a case of putting in the time and effort.
If that piecemeal sort of approach doesn’t work for you then check out the Google Analytics Academy, which offers a range of free online courses. You might also want to get certified. If you pass the Google Analytics IQ exam you not only get to prove your analytical smarts, you also get a nice certificate.
We’ve found the Google Analytics IQ Exam really useful for our Content Strategists. Anyone joining that team who hasn’t done it already has to study for the test as a priority. It’s a big help for their self-confidence and their credibility when dealing with clients.
Do I need a dedicated Google Analytics Consultant?
In our experience, Google Analytics is such an essential part of monitoring your content marketing strategy that whoever is running the strategy should be the authority on it. A dedicated team member just to do Google Analytics consulting really shouldn’t be necessary.
You should be able to rely on your Content Strategist to set up Google Analytics properly and then use it to report back on how your strategy is performing. Google Analytics isn’t an add-on, it’s a core part of what you’re doing. That means you should have at least a basic understanding of it yourself and your Content Strategist – the point person for your content marketing strategy – should be taking the lead on it.