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[3QF-GA-8] Google Analytics: Acquisition

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

Greetings analysts and welcome to another post to help you figure out what Google Analytics is all about - and how you can use it to make more money.

This series is currently running through all the report categories, starting with Behavior last time and continuing on with Acquisition now.

Staying true to previous posts which said that you really don't need most of what Google Analytics provides we'll keep our discussion short and stick to 3 Quick Facts to get you started.

So, what is Acquisition anyway? What exactly are we 'acquiring' in this section of Google Analytics?

Well, in a word, visitors. And customers too, hopefully, but not quite yet. First, you need to get people from somewhere else to your site so that you can persuade them to do what you want them to do.

And that's where Acquisition comes in. It's a set of reports which tell you what people were doing before they came to your site. Before you 'acquired' them and their precious attention.

But, why do you care about that? Surely what they did when they arrived is far more important?

Well, yes, but understanding where your customers travelled from, digitally speaking, ends up being quite useful to know, as explained below.

For those looking for more - much, much more - than 3 Quick Facts, have a look at ClickAcademy's Google Analytics Certification course. It's 3 full days of expert insights, hands-on exercises and prep quizzes designed to make you a better web analyst. For more information visit our course site here.

1) You need to know where your visitors came from so you know where to spend your time and money

So, why is knowing where your website visitors come from so important? Well, in brief, it's because it helps you know where you need to focus your time, talent and treasure.

See, every visitor you get to your site costs you money. Sure, it might not involve cash paid directly to an ad platform, but all the work you do on your site, your content, your emails, your ads - it is all to drive potential future customers to your site.

Now, most people as they are starting out tend to 'spray and pray'. Write some posts, send some emails and, sure why not, fire up some ads. But without knowing which are driving visitors who do more than just see one page and leave (aka 'bounce'), you simply don't know where you should be spending more time - and what you should stop doing.

The Acquisition section, by telling you where people came from before they were at your site, provides you with all the info you need to make these decisions - and stop wasting valuable time on channels which aren't bringing in people who convert.

2) Google already knows where your site visitors were before they came to your site

Now, you might think that it takes time and effort to get acquisition to work properly. Funnily enough, this is one of those unusual situations where no, you don't have to do anything. Google already knows where most of your visitors were beforehand - you just have to look at the reports.

How? Well, it's complicated, but in short, every time you click on a link, your browser tells the site you're going to visit where you were before. Huge privacy violations built-in to every web browser!

(And yes, your browser still does this in incognito mode...)

But privacy's loss is your gain. Turn on Google Analytics for a few weeks and you should get a good idea about the main sources of your site's traffic without lifting a finger.

3) Channels report is the most important report in the Acquisition section

OK, so you're ready to review where your visitors are coming from - where do you start?

Well, there are dozens of Acquisition reports to choose from, but, for now, just focus on one: Channels.

Channels has everything you need to know to start allocating your resources on the channels that matter.

First, the report simplifies all your visitors' traffic sources into a handful of 'default channels'. These channels, which include organic search, paid search and social, are all easy to understand and typically provide distinct types of visitors.

For example, an organic search visitor will usually be coming in for content whereas a social visitor will almost certainly have been inspired by a visual. Knowing which type of media delivers better traffic is invaluable for prioritising your efforts.

Second, Channels lets you know how engaged visitors from each channel was on your site. Bounce rate, pages per session and average time on site are imperfect metrics, but you can draw some conclusions from the statistics they provide about the visitor behaviour from each channel.

Finally, Channels gives you the conversion rate - which is the main test of whether a channel is worth spending time on or not. Say you're getting low traffic from paid search, but conversions are higher than social. You then know it's worth spending time developing your Google Ads strategy in lieu of more Facebook ads.

So, once Google Analytics is running on your site for at least a few weeks, check out Channels and make some tough decisions about your website content, social media and advertising. You will save yourself countless hours and a lot of money doing this sooner rather than later.

For more, do have a look at our Google Analytics Course. It's up to 95% funded for SCs and SPRs and classes fill up fast, so hurry!

Until next time...


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