It is probably safe to assume that at some point in the working week we (the Digital marketers or Marketing Execs responsible for our organisation’s website and implementation of digital strategy), find ourselves with around 30 minutes to prepare for a management meeting. All because the meeting organiser has realised that getting an update on the progress of the organisation’s digital strategy is a great idea and if you’ve been in that situation you know that those 30 minutes of preparation fly past.
If you’re already prepared with a broad sense of traffic numbers and the split between organic, direct and referral traffic to the site including top referral sources; the following selection of reports and methods provide a quick and helpful overview of the digital strategy, are free and can be actioned in less than 10 minutes.
What are Visitors to our Site Doing When They Get There?
When the meeting focuses on the organisation’s website there is always the chance that management will ask a question along the lines of “what are people doing on the site anyway?”. Whilst it may be tempting to suggest that your boss sits in the Google Analytics Real time report for a day and gets a first hand account of what visitors are doing on the site, this suggestion is unlikely to be taken seriously so I would suggest you use this report:
All pages and navigation summary
This report can be particularly useful if the focus of your organisation’s site is business to business and whose primary goal is to generate contact enquiries. This report indicates popular visitor journeys on the site and when combined with the behaviour flow report you can quickly gain an appreciation of typical visitor behaviour. You get a sense of pages on the site which might not be well optimised in terms of encouraging visitors to enquire/seek more information about products or services.
Whilst these reports may not be the “prettiest” of analytics reports, remember that’s not their purpose, these reports help you become as informed and knowledgeable as possible of the current state of your organisation’s digital strategy.
Are we Still Being Found for: “Awesome Business that Answers your Needs”?
A question I have heard, and many of my clients have been asked by their CEO or MD, is “What are we being found for?”. This is a relatively straightforward question to answer, especially when we have the Search queries report at our disposal in Acquisition and Search Engine Optimisation (assuming of course that both Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools have been linked together).
In this report we can quickly identify the terms and phrases being used to to find your site in organic search.
Going a small step further we can segment this information by Google property to understand the terms and phrases being used on either a mobile, image or web based search. Depending on the nature of your business this can be quite insightful especially if, for example, particular search terms are gaining impressions and click throughs then your organisation may wish to investment more resource in this area.
Additionally it’s not uncommon to be asked by a member of management “do we have any idea what people are searching for when they come to our site?”, this is entirely possible using a very nice and simple site search report in GA. Of course this assumes that the site search report has been activated (if not go to admin, view settings, scroll down to site search settings and turn the site search tracking on). This report gives a good indication of visitor intent whilst on your site and can also be quite revealing as it could be that the navigation and calls to action aren’t directing visitors to key products quickly enough.
Why Does the Site Look Bad When I Look at it on My Phone?
A number of factors will dictate whether it’s a priority for your organisation’s site to be optimised for mobile, with “user intent” being significantly high up on that list of factors to consider. However, and again for the purpose of an example, let’s say your site is a blog so it could be assumed that being optimised for mobile would be a priority as you would want visitors to be able to access your content as they commute to work or during their lunch break.
Recent algorithm developments would suggest that simply being optimised for mobile with a responsive design isn’t enough and that the user experience should be as good on mobile as it is on a desktop. This might suggest the need for further investment and customisation of the existing mobile device experience. However, before committing futher investment to your organisation’s mobile strategy it’s highly likely that your management team will want to know the split of mobile and desktop visitors to your site.
I would suggest the Google Analytics mobile overview report in Audience with a date comparison of the previous 3 months – it should be noted that I have clients who have had less than 5% of overall sessions from a mobile device so although this is a simple report to access it’s still very valuable to be aware of the split between desktop and mobile sessions before investing in mobile optimisation.
What are the Other Guys Doing?
What are the other guys ranking for? This, or a variation of this question, is something we will all be asked probably at least once a month and whilst there are many tools which can pull keyword data, advertising stats and backlink scores in the blink of eye into a nice readable profile comparison, you usually have to pay for this level of functionality. I’m going to suggest what some may think of as the old fashioned way of surveying the competitive landscape … a keyword search using an anonymous browser. Not highly technical or sophisticated but potentially very insightful.
Deleting the browsing history and cookies from your browser and then running a few searches on the phrases which are important to your organisation to be found for can be very revealing both about the success of your digital strategy and that of your competitors. Perhaps more importantly it can identify what is working for others and what might not be working for you. So whilst tools can provide this data in a nice easy to read format within the click of a few buttons this method, which is free, gives you a quick insight into where you and your competitors stand in organic search and indeed any new entrants to your digital space.
Is the Social Media Stuff we’re doing Paying Off?
For the purpose of an example let’s assume that your organisation has also begun investing more resource in their social strategy, as this is a common scenario and many CEO’s and MD’s know that they need a social strategy to a certain degree. Some organisations need it more than others depending on the nature of their business and as is so often the case in digital marketing many other factors will determine whether this is appropriate or not.
So if we take it for granted that there is good reason for your organisation to consider investing resource in a social strategy it would be fair to assume that you will be asked “…what returns are we getting from our efforts on social?”. Let’s pretend for a moment that you haven’t yet invested in that fancy social media monitoring platform yet because your boss is sceptical of whether you really need it and of course is very aware of the significant monthly payment, here are a selection of reports to have up your sleeve:
Goals => Overview
Acquisition => Social =>Users flow
You Know, I Couldn’t Access the “About Us” Page. I Think it’s a Broken Link
Now unless you have had recurring and/or there are existing issues with your site then you are unlikely to get asked a specific question about the structure of your organisation’s site but few would disagree that this is always a useful report to have up your sleeve.
Using the free version of Screaming Frog we can crawl up to 500 pages on a site and the tools dashboard provides a nice menu summary on the right hand side to scroll through and gain a quick appreciation of the health of the site. So why do this? Well if a member of management has been on the site recently and couldn’t view a particular page due to a broken link armed with this report there is a greater chance that you will now know about it and be able to convince him/her that you are aware of it and are in the process of rectifying the issue.
I have deliberately suggested reports that are quick to use and easy to find using either free tools or methods. I also realise that there are a number of useful reports that I could have used but haven’t. I would suggest that it depends on the individual organisation’s digital objectives as to the type and kind of reporting that would be important to monitor their digital strategy.