Get the Most Out of Google Analytics

googleanalytics01Google Analytics is awesome because you can see how people interact with your site, discover how they found you, and figure out how old they are. Even if you don’t have an account right now, you can get one ready for a revamp. All of this information is necessary for creating a solid marketing plan, updating your site, and connecting with potential customers. You might find that you’re not reaching your target audience and you need to make some tweaks. 

How Google Analytics Works

tracking-code-overview-google-analytics-google-developers

Google Analytics collects data by sending out an HTTP request, which includes important information about your specific site. Analytics creates first-party cookies to gather info about ads, sessions, and to track how long users stay on your site. So basically, once you put the Google Analytics code onto the back end of your site, it will log and track user information. If users have cookies blocked, Google Analytics won’t track all of their behavior. Keep in mind that users also won’t be able to use the majority of web apps, so don’t worry– most users will have cookies enabled. Check out Google for more info on how tracking works.  

Most Important Google Analytics Features 

Audience Overview

The audience overview gives you a bird’s-eye-view of how people are interacting with your website. Audience overview shows you demographics, interests, and location. Toggle between “hour,” “day,” “week,” and “month” to review how these interactions change. Notice a pattern? Are more people visiting your site when you release a new blog? Was there a major drop-off after a long period of inactivity? Take notes and recognize patterns that increase visitors. See if you can replicate that time after time. 

Audience overview analysis from Google Analytics.

 

Acquisition Reports

This shows you what brought visitors to your site. You can see what keywords people used to get to your landing pages, whether people were referred to your site from another page, you can link your AdWord campaigns, and you can track your ad’s performance. 

Behavior

Behavior is where you’re going to find what pages people click on, how long they stay on that page, the bounce rate (remember, this is the percentage of people who checked out this page and then bounced), and entrances and exit rates (the percentage of people who enter your site on a given page and the percentage of people who leave after being on that page). You can also check out site speed, site search, and event overviews. 

Behavior Analytics from Google Analytics

Conversions

Conversions are great because you can check out your goals, eCommerce page, and your attributions page, which lets you compare the source of your conversions. 

In-page analytics from Google Analytics. 

 

Set Up Goals

Once you know your way around Google Analytics, you’ll want to set up goals so you can get the most out of your web interactions. 

Go to Admin > Web View > Goals   

 Choose from one of the pre-defined templates to create a relevant goal. If you want something more specific, create a custom goal. Click on the “custom” button, name your goal, and define the parameters of your goal. 

Goal setting on Google Analytics

analytics

Once you have goals set up, you can keep track of the percentage of goals that are successful. Goals can help you track the following:

  • Leads
  • Conversions
  • Newsletter sign ups
  • Downloads

You can track goals through the following methods:

1. URL destination goals

analytics

Goal Name: Name your goal.

Goal Type: Set your goal type. This goal is going to be a destination-based goal, so we checkmarked the button next to “destination.” 

Analytics goal set up.

You can enter goal values to track a specific number or payment. 

2. Visit duration goals

Goal Name: Name your goal.

Goal Type: Set your goal type. This goal is going to be a duration-based goal, so we checkmarked the button next to “duration.” 

Goal duration in Google Analytics.

Click “next.” Add a duration to track. Do you to see if people read the entirety of your 5-minute blog? Do you want to see if they spend more than 10 seconds on your page? Enter the amount of time here.

goal-duration-part-2

3. Page/visit goals

If you know people usually visit a specific product page before checking out, create a page goal to track the visitors on that page. 

How to set up a page goal in Google Analytics.

4. Event goals

With event goals, you can track and see when people do the following:

  • Add a product to the shopping cart
  • Click play on a video
  • Click to share the page on social media
  • Download an ebook

 Set Up Segments

Segments consist of filters that you create to track interactions. Segments make it easy to track users who find your site organically, track users who come through a paid search, or track users who made a purchase. You can also import segments that Google created so you can properly track users. You can quickly import new segments like “new user starter bundle,” “SEO Dashboard,” to track high and underperforming pages. 

Set up Annotations

Annotations are notes you can add to help track what’s happening in your business. You can add competitor notes (include competitor’s sales, large launches, and so on) to place it against your web traffic. If your competitor launched a new shoe line and your shoe company notices a 10% drop in web traffic that day, you can assume it’s due to the competitor’s launch. 

Add annotations for Google Analytics.

Make sure to mark some of the following dates and info on your annotations:

  • Launching new products
  • Site down for web maintenance
  • Releasing new product
  • Pulling old product off the shelf

Annotations help you remember what happened, when. To create annotations directly from your overview pane, click on the down arrow underneath your overview pane. 

Audience overview and how to add annotations on Google Analytics.

Find out how people navigate on your site.

This is one of the most important sections in your GA account because it tells you how people get from A > B. If you’re selling shoes, how do people get your site? And if they aren’t buying your shoes, is it because they’re stuck on a specific page? See how to check out user interaction below. 

Users Flow

To access, log in to your Google Analytics account. If you don’t have an account yet, you can sign up for one pretty easily. Once you’re logged in, you can access your GA code, which is unique to your site. This code needs to be placed on the back-end of your site so that Google can actually track how users interact with it. More information on getting your GA code onto your site is here.

See where people leave your site.

Google Analytics shows you where people drop off from your site. You can review bounced sessions, conversions, purchases made, and mobile traffic. 

Your bounce rate is the percentage of people who bounce off your site at the page the came in without stopping to check out any other pages. You can still have a high conversion rate while having a high bounce rate. 

The exit rate include people who leave your site after checking out a few pages. 

Once you know the way people navigate your site, you can create a better user experience by updating your content, adjusting your navigation, or making it easier for users to check out.

Set up Tag Assistant

Tag assistant gives you real-time feedback on your pages. You click “record” and click through the pages on your website. Tag assistant shows you suggestions about non-standard implementation and pageview requests. You can only use tag assistant on a page that has a GA code, so if you’re already set up on Google Analytics, you’re good to go. If you haven’t yet set up a GA account, do it before you attempt to track with tag assistant. 

Tag assistant instructions for Google Analytics  

Smart Tips

Set up an alert to monitor you of 404 errors.

First, set a 404 error goal. Go to Admin > View > Goals > Destination > Use your static 404 page as your URL 

Go to Admin > View >  Alert 

How to create a 404 alert in Google Analytics

Next to “Apply to”: Enter the static 404 page

Checkmark “send me an email when this alert triggers”

Under “Alert Conditions” > Click the dropdown and find the 404 goal you created

Your alert should look something like this:

How to create a 404 alert on Google Analytics.

Then you can track alerts over email, fix issues as soon as they arise, and make sure everything is working properly. 

Recap

Google Analytics is a powerful tool that, when used properly, can help you see your site’s weaknesses. Log in to your account, get settled with the most common features, set up alerts and segments, and start tracking how users interact with your site. You’ll be a Google Analytics whiz in no time. And if not, there’s always Google’s help page

Editing Tips for Blogs

Hands typing at a computer.

If you haven’t been getting the response you like from your blog, it might be time to get to editing. The issue might not be with the content, it might be with the form.

Writing a solid blog isn’t about using the coolest tips and tricks and it’s not about slamming everyone with a bunch of slang. It’s about making sure you can create legible text that your readers will actually enjoy. So let’s look at some ways to do that.

Trusted Blog Formats

Inverted Pyramid

We’ve all seen the inverted pyramid in action. This was primarily a journalist’s idea, since it kept the most important information above the fold. In web writing, there is no fold. There’s the scroll.  And every time someone has to scroll, their ability to lose interest in the piece goes up.

Here’s the deal with the inverted pyramid:

  • Keep the most important information up front. Who, what, where, when and why. Boom. Knock it all out right away so everyone knows what’s up.
  • Don’t hide the most important information. If you have a story to tell, place it in the headline and lay out the details before the scroll.
  • If you are writing a longer article, you may need to use the inverted pyramid technique multiple times.
Tips for Holding Interest:
  • Connect differing ideas with numbers, not long-winded text.
  • Remind readers why it’s interesting.

Check out the example below from The New York Times:

Art World Annotated - Inverted Pyramid

This is a style piece, but we get everything we need right away. We know who the article is about, why it’s being written, where it’s taken place, and what we’re going to learn. 

So why is this cool? Because Neilson Norman Group says so. And because it helps people get the information they need faster.

Here’s the idea: get to the facts, get to them fast, and then let people go. Web readers are busy. They normally don’t want to spend tons of time reading. So see what your form is doing. If you’re not using the inverted pyramid method, it may be time to flip your writing upside down.

The Single-Sentence Approach

We like to call this the salesman approach because a lot of salespeople use it. It’s when you pretend like paragraphs don’t exist.

Do you know what happens to readers when you split up paragraphs?

How about when you separate sentences? Do you think readers get more excited when they see ellipses…

Example from Incredible Infant.

26-ways-to-earn-money-at-home-without-selling-incredible-infant1

Guess what…

That might be a little too much! When people write like this, it can come off as super salesy because it plays with a false sense of anticipation. See whether you’re doing this in your text. If you are, it might be just about time to change it up. Chunking your paragraphs and alternating the style is helpful.

 The Perfect Paragraph

What’s the holy grail of paragraphs? It depends on who you ask. Smashing Magazine is all about design, so they approach the paragraph from a designer’s perspective. They mention a few things:

  • Use Bitstream to download the proper font family
  • Choose a font that is easily legible. Smashing Magazine notes that

    A diminutive x-height, for example, could impair the readability of a font from either camp. Some serif fonts are highly legible and attractive for paragraph text if they are set properly. Matthew Carter’s screen-sympathetic Georgia is a case in point.

From a content perspective, there’s a bunch of stuff you can do to write better paragraphs:

  • Vary your paragraph length. Write 3-sentence paragraphs followed by 2- and 4-sentence paragraphs.
  • Chunk your text by grouping your paragraphs around a single theme, issue, or thought.
  • Don’t indent your paragraphs.
  • Make each paragraph relate to the others thematically.
  • Check that you have clear topic sentences (reminder: topic sentences are the first or second sentence in each paragraph. They let readers know what the entire paragraph is going to be about).
  • Make sure your paragraphs meet reading-level requirements.

The Perfect Headline and Subhead

Of course, there are formulas that work. There are entire books written about the topic. There are many people who will tell you things like:

  • You need to include numbers in your headlines because posts with numbers get read more
  • You need to include the problem you’re solving in your headline
  • You need to keep your headlines short
  • You need to include your brand name in your headline
  • Put the main story in your headline

And those are all important tips, and while your headline might be on point, you shouldn’t forget about the importance of subheaders. To create the perfect subheader, think about placement.

  • Write a new subheader any time you change tracks, subjects, or main ideas
  • Write a list to section off the subheaders that you want to add

Blog editing tips for refreshing your blog.

So go ahead and try reformatting your blog a bit. If the content’s fine, you may need to refocus your goals and check out your form. 

Think Like a Writer

Faceless man picturing typewriter.

A lot of us run creative businesses, and we know how to deal with the daily tasks, how to field all of the emails, and how to manage a team, but sometimes our ideas get lost whenever we try to write our web copy. Why?

The worst websites have copy that doesn’t accurately represent their brand.

We see this all the time. Your innovative company is breaking new ground; you’re pioneering some wild ideas. Your team gets together every year to celebrate in exotic locations, and you’re always coming up with weird ideas that challenge the industry. Congrats. Look at you go. But your web copy talks about the same old ideals of customer service, loyalty, and honesty. 

You might be thinking, “well…yeah. We are honest and loyal, and we love customer service. What’s wrong with that?” A lot of that is wrong. Here’s the deal. All companies that are in the business of making money are also in the business of customer service. All companies that want to make money stay loyal. Most companies act honestly. Those aren’t interesting or valuable. And they aren’t going to make people consider your product or services. 

Consider being real.

Instead of throwing down some tired ideals, consider getting real. What do you really wish for your customers? What do you really think is going to happen if they buy your product? If they don’t? Your customers are going to trust you a lot more if you tell them what they need to know without the sales jargon and the BS. Without the pretty veil of fake-selling. Just tell them what’s up. What you can offer. Boom. They get the truth and they get it in a way that they like. 

Find your true self.

You don’t have to meditate for hours, and we’re not going to tell you to hide out in the woods somewhere. But it is important to find your company’s real values before you update your copy. 

To think like a writer, you’ve got to think about purpose. All writing is about purposefully communicating your ideas in a way that people will understand. And you can’t do that unless you know your purpose. 

Here’s how you can get closer to writing real copy. 

Quick brainstorm session.

You’ve done brainstorming before. But have you done lightning speed brainstorming? This is when you don’t stop writing for an entire five minutes. Pick a song that runs for five minutes. May we suggest Zepplin’s “Black Dog.”

(Go ahead and play the song twice if you need!) 

Pick up pen or get ready to type.
Press play on the song above or start your timer.
Start writing. Don’t stop.
That means no backspace.
No deleting. No erasing. No censoring yourself.
To begin, answer the following questions.
Feel free to skip or add whatever you want.
Whatever you do, don’t drop your pen until you’re done. 

  • How would I describe my brand to a 5-year-old kid?
  • How would I describe my brand to a cool 5-year-old kid?
  • How would I describe my brand to my best friend’s mom?
  • How would I describe my brand to someone who hates my products?
  • What are three actions that my brand hates?
  • What are three actions my brand loves?
  • What does my brand actually provide our customers that other companies don’t?
  • What does my brand aspire to be in 5 years?
  • Why does my brand matter?
  • What are my brand’s values?

Take it to the team.

Cool. So now take that freewrite activity and bring it to the team. Ask them to participate. See how your answers differ. Where are they the same? Are there values your team thinks are more important? Once your team answers the questions, you can collectively explore what values seem most like your brand. Then see if you have evidence to back it up. Collect testimonials, reviews, actionable goals that can back up your values. 

Translate it to web copy.

Now that you’ve all agreed upon your company’s values, you can figure out how to translate it to web copy. We suggest freewriting and organizing to come up with a solid plan. We like to use Jumpchart to plan and organize our web copy, and it’s a good way to collaborate on web projects. If you’re struggling to figure out how to translate your ideas to copy, check out some of our tips:

Check your tone:

Let’s say you figured out your values. Let’s say you’re a new startup and you’re quirky, young, and causal. Cool. Rock it. Let’s say you want to start writing your web copy, and you draft a sentence like this:

Gelly is a trusted gel shoe product that transforms the ground into a comfortable oasis. Feel the dream.

That’s cool, but the tone isn’t really quirky, fun, or young, is it? It’s sort of formal. With words like “transform,” “oasis,” “product,” and “trusted,” we get a very solid idea of a company that is sort of stiff, traditional, and loyal.

 Now what if you write:

Gelly’s gonna make your feet feel radical. Be cool when you run, stay dry when you walk, and gel with your friends while you dance. 

The words in this version are a bit more relaxed: “radical,” “cool,” “stay,” “gel,” “friends,” “dance.”

When you’re writing your web copy, highlight the adjectives and verbs and make sure they’re reflecting what your brand’s about.  

Sweat the details.

So you have your web copy ideas and your tone, and that’s great. But to really make a difference, you’ll want to sweat the details. There are a ton of spaces (besides the main web copy) where you can infuse your tone. 

  • About us page – make sure your new about us page copy reflects the tone, ideals, and vision that you explored above.  Check those verbs and adjectives. 
  • 404 page – there are some great examples of hilariously innovative and awesome 404 page copy. 
  • Footer text – you don’t have to keep your footer text bland.
  • Emails  – we could do a whole ‘nother blog on drafting cool email texts, but if you don’t have time to rewrite all your emails, consider rewriting your subject lines and see what happens. 

So go ahead. Figure out your values. Be the brand you’ve been meaning to be. Make your momma proud. We believe in you! 

Adjust Your Reading Level for a Human Interaction

Faceless Man Reads a Book and Learns About Reading Level

Even if you’ve gone to college, you probably don’t come across college-level texts in everyday life. A lot of what you read every day is probably at a pretty low reading level. Why? Because most audiences don’t read at a college level, so most writers avoid writing a college level. And most generalized websites aren’t going to write something that their audience can’t understand.

Usually, when we write, we want to reach the broadest audience possible.

What’s your reading level?

The amount of words you use to say what you want, the types of words you use, and the way you combine those words can all change the reading level of your text.

Mental Floss ran a test of some popular blogs to see what reading level their text is catering to. They found some interesting stuff. Hilary Clinton’s blog, for example, is writing at a college level, while Arts & Letters is writing at a middle school level, and the Damn Interesting blog is writing at a genius level. So what’s the sweet spot?

Well, first we should look at what reading level most American adults feel comfortable with, since they will likely make up your audience. According to Huffington post and a study conducted by the U.S. Dept. of Education, “32 million adults in the U.S. can’t read. That’s 14 percent of the population. 21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read.”

So it’s already clear that you probably shouldn’t write at a 12th-grade reading level if 32 million adults can’t even read, right? Let’s take a look at our own score first.

Readability score for Entermotion's blog.

  •  The Gunning-Fog score is based on the amount of years of formal education a person would need to understand your text. 9 means we are writing at a 9th-grade education level.
  • The Coleman-Liau Index is based on characters (not the amount of syllables) found in each word, and the result reflects the grade level, so based on our characters, we’re at a 11.3 grade level.
  • SMOG index is supposedly more accurate than the others, according to the Journal of Reading. The SMOG index is based on the number of sentences and the number of syllables in each word. SMOG is used mostly for healthcare materials, and we’re at a 9th-grade reading level there too.
  • The Automated Readability Index is like the others. It shows that most 12-year-old readers could understand our blog.

What’s a common reading level?

 According to the Readability Score website, the general public reads at an 8th-grade level. It looks like we’re sort of circling right around that sweet spot. There are some other blogs that are following along pretty nicely too!

Test thanks to http://www.webpagefx.com/tools/read-able/. Test thanks to http://www.webpagefx.com/tools/read-able/.

So what does an 8th grade reading level look like? Let’s take a peek at an example from The Huffington Post.

 See what Huffington Post's reading level looks like.

Notice anything? How about the types of words used: weird, holy cow, stuff, shows, love…These are all words that everyone can understand. Huffington Post’s writers use common language. Words and phrases like “stuff,” “don’t even” and “a little easy,” make the text feel comfortable and easily understandable. That’s the goal.

Find Your Reading Level

Double check your reading level using one of the programs below.

Readability Score
Online Utility

Adjust Your Reading Level

Once you find your reading level, you may need to make some adjustments. If you’re writing to mass audiences and your writing is at a college level, you may need to simmer down a bit. Some websites have been designed to help you identify your reading level for a curriculum, but if you’re creating text for the general public, you may need to do a bit of work.

The Journal of Extension provides some good tips for writing text for low-literacy and lower-literacy audiences:

  • Make your sentences shorter
  • Avoid 3-syllable words when possible
  • Use bullet points
  • Incorporate quality headlines
  • Use images when possible
  • Place most important text up front
  • Use active voice (subject > action > John goes shopping. Passive voice: The shopping was done by John).
  • Avoid double negatives
  • Avoid synonyms (use the same word when possible)

 So go ahead and try out different tactics. See what works and what doesn’t. And when in doubt, write like you’re talking to someone’s grandma. Even if the concepts are complicated, the language doesn’t have to be.

How to Use Psychology to Sell

How to Use Psychology to Sell

Remember when you were little and someone offered you an ice cream bar now or two ice cream bars later? Which would you take? Probably the one right now, because the only thing better than an ice cream bar is an ice cream bar now. This is what sales dudes and dudettes call “hyperbolic discounting.” And it can change the way you sell products.

Hyperbolic discounting messes with everything from your morning workout to your desire to purchase something today. It’s the principle that suggest people would rather have a lower immediate reward instead of a higher reward that they have to wait for. It’s that thing that makes you hit snooze even though you made a plan to work out at 5 a.m.

People will usually give up the extra ice cream bar later for the immediate award. But if there’s a large time period in between the first possibility and the second, people are more likely to hold off for the better reward. Most people will choose $10 now instead of $15 next year. But they would take $15 in 16 years vs. $10 in 15 years.

“With hyperbolic discounting, the rate of discounting decreases as the delay occurs further in the future…the amount a future reward is discounted depends on the length of the delay and when they delay occurs.” Behavior Lab.

Don’t Snooze on the Psychology to Help You Sell

The Stanford Marshmallow test gives a good visualization of this principle. In the Harvard University study (1960), children sat with a marshmallow and the option to eat the marshmallow now or wait 15 minutes, when they would be given another marshmallow. The findings seemed to indicate much more than a sweet tooth.

Surprise! The kids who waited 15 to eat the marshmallow grew up to be adults who could refrain from immediate gratification– (and they scored better on tests, had lower rates of obesity, and earned more money than their marshmallow-now-please eating counterparts).

In other words, the discount is accepted it if rewards our short-term needs, and most people make purchasing decisions based on that. Most of your customers are marshmallow now kind of people.

Examples of this Principle in Copy

luckypeach
 

Lucky Peach knows that people are going to act now when they can. So if they can save money by purchasing a subscription today, and if that option ends after the holidays…then yeah! People are going to get a move on it now.

lifeproof

Lifeproof tries to hit your emotional center with words like free shipping now. Words like “today only,” “act immediately,” or “one-day sale” might help people make the purchasing decision that they’ve been holding off on for a while.

josie

Even beauty brands use this principle. If it’s the final hours, our need for the short-term reward kicks in. According to a Princeton study, “preferences for short-term rewards result from the emotion-related parts of the brain winning out over the abstract-reasoning parts.” So people are making purchasing decisions with their emotional side, not their logical side. When you write copy, then, it makes sense to appeal to their emotional side.

When More is More

We have shopping malls full of more. Our homes are full of more. If you open up any old magazine, you’ll see it over all the pages. More is more. And people like more, so they probably like to have a lot of options when they shop, right? Nope! This is where psychology comes into play. While a lot of customers might like the idea of excess, when faced with a sales decision, it’s best to keep things simple.

Analysis paralysis occurs when we’re faced with too many options. You know when it’s like when you go to the store and you find 45 different versions of the same type of chip. Which do you want? What if you go for the blue packaging that’s a little cheaper when the red packaging might have the better chip? What if you buy two of the same type instead of three different types? What does it matter? The thought of facing all of those decisions can be overwhelming, even if it’s just over something as silly as a chip.

Reduce Paralysis

You’re more likely to make a purchase when you’re faced with fewer options. In this jam study  people were more likely to make a purchase when faced with 6 products instead of 24 of 30. Take the copy below for example. There are limited choices, so you make it easier for your customers to decide.

Carbonite Sales Plan

But what happens if you have a lot of choices and you want to give your customers the best possible experience? You can still  present all the choices, but you may want to hide a few of the less popular ones so users don’t feel overwhelmed.

Paul Boag suggests that we must “default to the most common choice while allowing the option to customise.” If you want to make this principle work in your copy or your website, make sure you think about a few things:

Provide one offer in each email campaign. Why? So your customers have a single decision to make. Purchase the product or don’t.

 graze

Graze has one offer in this email, so it’s pretty easy to make a decision. There’s really only one thing you can do in this email. Okay, I guess there are two things. Either click to get your free box, or click to close the email. Based on the jam study, this is a pretty dang good sales idea, so remember. If you have 100 types of products, that’s cool. But try focusing on a few of those (or even one of those) for every email blast. Track it for a while and see what happens.

 peel-super-thin-iphone-cases

Peel knows the deal. When customers come to their home page, they’re faced with one single option for each type of platform. That doesn’t mean they don’t have more options. It means that they hid those options until they were necessary.

Combine Tactics

Create a big impact by combining tactics. Hit the immediate gratification center, but offer fewer rewards. See how it changes your sales. And, as always, check out your analytics to make sure your customers are able to easily access your products or services. Because none of this will matter if people can’t even find the check out button!

Seen enough? Get An Estimate