As marketers, we’re all aware that understanding people is at the core of our profession.
We need to understand how people behave online, what people like and dislike, and what we can do to influence our readers, before we can even begin thinking about an effective content marketing strategy.
Here’s the problem…
With so much pop-psychology, and one-stop guides to consumer behaviour online, how is anyone supposed to make an informed division about their marketing strategy? This is particularly true if you’re a start-up business.
It’s all fine and well knowing what Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is, but what on earth are we meant to do with that information.
At OriGym, as with many start-ups, we naturally thought the answers lay at the feet of Google Analytics. With such a powerful tool, how couldn’t our marketing strategy improve?
Unfortunately, with Google Analytics’ complexity, comes the tricky task of know exactly what to do with it.
Enter, our guide of how to use some of Google Analytics core features to improve your content marketing in 2018!
Behaviour and Audience: Why they are important
Before we start diving into the details, let’s just clarify what we’re going to cover in this guide.
What we’re not going to do is walk you through every feature of Google Analytics, and how you can use it to read data on your site.
Firstly, this would be excruciating for everyone involved (readers and writers…), and secondly, there are plenty of guides already out there available to walk you through the basics of analytics (not least Google’s own Google Garage program).
Of course, this means that this guide will presume that you already have Google Analytics installed onto your website, and if this is not the case, you should check out some beginners’ guides in order to begin measuring your data.
What we want to do is guide you through the more holistic process of interpreting your Google Analytics data, and what you can do with your content marketing to tailor your strategy to your readers and how they interact with your site.
In this regard, the most important fields you’re going to need on the Google Analytics dashboard (for the purposes of this article), are the Audience and Behaviour fields.
Unsurprisingly, the Audience tab should be the first place you should check to understand the kind of people who are visiting your site.
But what kind of information can Google Analytics tell you?
Well, quite a lot actually…
You can apply filters to categorise the location, age and gender of your website’s visitors, among others.
You can also discover whether the majority of your visitors are new to your site, or whether they are repeat viewers.
Perhaps more interestingly for tech and digital marketing companies, you can also find out what kind of devices people are using to view your website.
As we will discuss in our next section, this may affect how you go about producing your content, and the extent to which you ensure your site is mobile friendly (though, in 2018 this should probably already be high among your considerations).
If Audience covers what kind of people are viewing your site, then Behaviour will tell you what exactly it is they are doing when they get there.
More specifically, you can discover what pages your audience are viewing most frequently, which avenues they are using to arrive onto your site, and how they are leaving.
If you have a search function on your site, you can also discover what visitors are likely to look for.
Of course, you can also get an overview of how people interact with your site generally, as well as which specific pages are performing well in terms of dwell-time. Such overview figures include Bounce Rates, and % Exit (or, how often users exit your site from certain pages).
But how can all of this data be used to improve a content marketing strategy?
Below, we share some of our top content marketing tips to convert abstract numbers into tangible customers and leads for your site.
Improving Content Marketing Using Audience Data
If you’re goal is to tailor your content marketing strategy to the visitors on your site, then it should be fairly obvious that Google Analytics’ audience feature is where you should go first.
It is, however, more difficult to know which data is most important, and how to react to what is in front of you.
Don’t neglect your Audience Overview
Your audience overview should always be your first port of call. I know so many marketers who, while technically competent, decide that they want ultra-specific data first, and therefore ignore the bigger picture of their site.
Knowing how many page views, pages per session, and session duration per visitor at a glance is going to improve the specificity of your marketing strategy.
If, for example, you see that your session duration is, on average, quite low, you can alter your blog content accordingly, in order to entice people to stay longer. Some easy ways of doing this are to begin publishing long-form blog content on your site, that has practical, industry specific advice.
While this may not result in direct sales, it will boost the amount of time visitors stay on your page, and will give your brand a boost in terms of credibility in your niche.
You can also employ “open loops” in your content. Here, you might say something like “Later in this guide, we’ll be showing you exactly how to increase your site’s traffic”.
What you’ve done here is introduce an idea that will excite your reader, and created anticipation for content revealed later in your article.
Such techniques are great ways to immediately improve the overall quality of your site, which will indirectly influence the kind of visitors and traffic you get.
Using Demographics to shape your site’s voice
On Google Analytics, demographics are broadly divided between age and gender. You’d be shocked as to how knowing these two simple factors can shape how you approach building your site.
Let’s use OriGym’s site as an example:
For an education provider of personal trainer courses, our demographics quite accurately reflect our student base. Our most popular age range is 25+, and we do tend to qualify more women than we do men.
Now, you may be thinking, great! Your website visitors match up with your target market. And yes: to a certain extent, this is good news.
However, we also can use this data to target new markets. We know, for example, that while women aged 25+ tend to study fitness courses more than any other demographic, that the age range for women interested in getting a personal trainer is actually 35+.
In our experience, people who have personal trainers (or have had them in the past) are more interested in becoming personal trainers themselves. Therefore, we might be interested in targeting the women over the age of 35 demographic through Facebook targeted ads, and through developing content around the theme of “re-careering”.
Having done this, Google Analytics can then show you how many new users you are getting within a certain demographic (women over the age of 35) over a specified time0period. We can therefore directly track how successful our efforts have been.
Knowing your shoulder markets – what do your visitors like?
The “interests” subcategory is a really handy and quick way to plan out content ideas for future marketing purposes.
In short, it allows you to see what your visitors are interested in outside of your specific niche, and how they behave once you’re on your site.
If, therefore, you run an e-commerce site that sells mountain climbing gear, and you identify that your visitors are also interested in travel websites, you can strategically produce blog content and special offers targeted around the theme of travel.
This may look something like, “The top 20 travel destinations for mountain climbers”. Here, you’ve combined your niche, with the interests of your regular visitors, and will therefore drive more traffic to your website and sales pages.,
New and Returning Visitors: How you should treat them differently
Under the “Behaviour” subcategory in audience, you can select “New vs. Returning”. This will give you data regarding the total number of new and returning visitors to your site, as well as how those users react with your site and average session duration between new users and returning users.
So, for example, if you see that returning visitors are staying on your site much longer than new visitors, you should develop some content that immediately entices visitors once they land on your page.
Here, you must address the wide constellation of Google Analytics data: you can do this by looking at what pages new visitors are landing on (landing pages), and how you can improve the content of those pages to get them to stay on your site.
Knowing the data regarding new and returning visitors will also help you plan “free giveaway offers” and email signups. New visitors should be targeted with such offers, as research has found when people are asked to make a small commitment at first, they are more likely to commit to a larger request later.
So, asking new users for their email, and offering them something free or a discount in return, will prime your new visitors for later purchases, and commitments to your brand. It will also convert new users into return visitors, thus bumping up your monthly average traffic.
Improving Content Marketing Using Behaviour Data
As well as having an in-depth knowledge of who is visiting your site, it also benefits your marketing strategy to know how visitors interact with your content online.
By combining these two data streams, you can adapt your approach to publishing online content in order to direct users to your value pages.
Authority Sculpting using Content Drilldown and Landing Pages Data
Content Drilldown shows you your most popular pages, while landing pages tells you which pages visitors tend to enter your sites through. These two pieces of data are invaluable in terms of capitalising on using your blog and website content to drive more viewers to your pages of value.
For example, if you have a blog post that outperforms all of the sales pages and information pages regarding your services, you should be using the authority of this blog post to drive traffic to sections of your website that make a difference to your business.
This works two ways. First, internal links to your site are a great way to get people to stay on your site for longer. Second, if you have a high authority page with a tonne of backlinks, linking to a sales page will improve the rankings of the latter.
Now, when people search for your services in google, you can rise above your competitors in the page rankings, without using paid ads. This process is what SEO experts refer to as Authority Sculpting.
Remember, organic traffic is the golden ticket to website success and better Google rankings, so you want to capitalise when you have a page with some hard-earned links. Google Analytics will help you identify these pages.
You can use the site search feature in a similar way to how you would use the “interests” subcategory to discover future content. Site Search Overview basically does what it says on the tin, in that it tells you exactly what visitors are searching for on your site (providing you have a custom search bar) and the trending searches, if there are any correlations to be had.
In marketing terms, this is a direct insight into the kind of content your visitors want to see. If, for example, a page you produced quickly, a few years ago, is among the highest ranked searches, you should be refurbishing this content and re-promoting it. This is because your actual content is substandard, but the topic of the content is highly valuable.
Or, let’s say there is a highly-ranked search term for which you have not written any content. If this is the case, Google Analytics has just provided you with a post-idea that should have a degree of guaranteed success.
More than anything else, the key mistake new marketers and start-ups make is to install Google Analytics to their site, and then not to react to the data shown.
It’s all fine and well knowing what people are doing on your site, but in order to expand your business and focus your marketing strategy, you should be responding to the data presented to you.
Using some of the tips provided in this article, you should be able to start using content marketing in order to steer your visitors to your high value pages, and start targeting the key demographics visiting your site.