How to Tell a Story With Your Website
Congratulations to all Universal Google Analytics users who have opted in to share their data anonymously in the “Audience” section of the reporting interface. You will now be given access to Google Analytics Benchmarking reports! The new section in Google Analytics for benchmarking reports allows you to compare your business among 1600 industry categories, 1250 markets and 7 size buckets. If you have not opted in to share this information with Google, then you may be missing out on some remarkable data that can help you determine how you measure up against the industry standard.
This isn’t the first time that we have seen the benchmark data. They experimented with sharing this information a few years ago, but decided to discontinue the feature back in 2011. Boy am I glad to see it back in action! This is only the first version release of the new benchmarking reports, so we expect to see plenty more where that came from with even more insights to soak our teeth into.
So, why does benchmarking matter?
When I was growing up, my mom always told me not to compare myself to others. You should just do what is best for you and try the best you can. I love my mom for that (among many other things), but this is not true when it comes to analyzing your website visitor data. You should compare your website to other sites in your industry. Not only will this help you gauge relative successes or short-comings, but it can also provide great insights on industry trends that can help you determine which channels you might want to consider investing more time in, which devices you might want to optimize for, or which geographical location visitors you might want to target.
If you don’t already have Google Analytics Benchmarking set up… Here is how you do it.
- First things first – make sure that you are using Universal Analytics.
- Go to your Google Analytics admin and click on “Account Settings”.
- Under the Data Sharing Settings, make sure you have “Anonymously with Google and others” checked off.
- Click save… and boom! Now you will have access to this beautiful data.
Here is how you use it:
- Go to your Google Analytics Reporting tab, and look for “Benchmarking” under the “Audience” section in the left navigation.
- Here you will see three different set dimensions for reports:
- Channels – the channel from which users visited the site.
- Location – geographically located visitors grouped by country.
- Devices – desktop, mobile & tablet.
- In the top left of the reporting area, choose your Industry Vertical. You can select a broad category or drill down to a more specific sub-category that fits your preferences.
- You can choose to filter the results based on Country/Regions. (note: filtered data by location is not available prior to May 8, 2014)
- Choose your size by daily sessions, in other words… how many sessions does your site get on average per day.
- After setting up your filters, you will see the amount of web properties contributing to the benchmark data in the top right corner of the report area.
- As with any Google Analytics report, you can choose your date range, select which data to plot in the graph, and adjust your sorting.
Here is a little peak into our own insights
I pulled this benchmark report specifically for the Web Design Design & Development industry since the beginning of 2014. There are 70,463 web properties contributing to this benchmark. I am pleasantly surprised with my findings, but also see some areas we could expand on.
- I love the fact that we are getting 275% more direct traffic than others within the industry standard. This tells me that our current and potential clients are likely coming directly to our site. Of course, some of this is probably internal and friends and family… but they still count, right?
- Organic Search… woohoo! I am very happy to see this number, because I have been working on improving our organic search visibility. I’ve always done this for a number of our online marketing clients, but have really only started to push our own efforts this past year.
- Social- higher than I expected. Awesome.
- Looking into where we fall below the industry benchmark – paid search, email, (other), and display. I am okay with these numbers for the time being. The fact that we don’t do a ton of paid search or display advertising is nice because it improves profitability. However this is an area I may want to consider enhancing as we continue to expand our business. I’m not surprised by the email numbers since we typically only send roughly 1 email each month. I could see this increase in the future, but we also don’t want to overdo it and annoy our followers.
Now it’s your turn! Set up your Google Analytics Benchmarking Reports and see how your website measures up against your industry.