If you haven’t used Google Analytics around your events before, it can be quite daunting. With so many features and the availability of all the different types of data it looks into, it’s hard to know where to look to find the metrics that matter. Without knowing which sections to pay attention to, you could spend days digging through the platform and still walk away with your head spinning. At the same time, without analyzing the traffic around your event website, it’s hard to assess the impact of your marketing activities.
Understanding how people are interacting with your site is important. Without this understanding, you won’t know the potential problems your event’s online presence is facing. You also won’t be able to make any meaningful changes. However, if you use it in the right way, Google Analytics is a powerful tool that can tell you whether your marketing efforts are actually translating into results.
Here are some of the most useful insights event planners can get from Google Analytics:
- Detailed demographics on who is visiting your event website
- Where your visitors and registrations are coming for
- The journey people take through your event website
- Which content, sessions or speakers featured on your site are the most/least popular
- Conversion rates (eg. registrations, purchases or downloads)
- The point at which people are abandoning their registrations or award entries
Having this kind of information on hand is incredibly valuable. And the good news is that it isn’t hard to set up. When you first create an account, Google Analytics will provide you with a website tracking code, which you’ll need to install on your website. Some event management and registration systems like Eventsforce have built-in support for Google Analytics. So even if your event website is hosted by your event tech provider, they should be able to add the correct Google Analytics code to each page on your event website in order for you to track all visitor activities on your site.
Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool for event planners. And it’s free. But before we go into the features that matter the most for event planners, it makes sense to understand some of main terminologies that Google uses:
Users: New and returning visitors who have visited your website at least once in your selected date range.
Session: A session (previously known as a visit) on your site is when the Google Analytics tracking code is triggered on a user’s entrance to the site. Everything they then do on your site is tracked within that visit, until they leave or the session expires (after 30 minutes of inactivity).
Unique Page Views: A ‘page view’ is the number of times a page has been viewed but ‘unique page views’ is the number of visitors to a page, rather than the number of visits to that page (as one user may use the same page multiple times in one session).
Dimensions: Descriptive characteristics including things like browser type, exit pages and session durations.
Metrics: Individual stats for a specific dimension, such as the average session duration or pages/visit (number of pages each visitor is looking at your site).
Bounce Rate: Percentage of no-interaction visits, where someone left your website without performing an action or navigating to a new page. Often the bounce rate will be for single page sessions, however this is not always the case.
Session Duration: The time spent by all users actively engaging with your site.
There are many more terms to learn, but knowing these key ones will help because they will come up over and over again.
Google Analytics has a number of features that contain sub-sections which can provide a whole load of data around your event websites. But you don’t need to use everything on offer. There are four sections that matter most to event planners – and when used together, they can help make some important decisions on which marketing activities are most useful in driving traffic to your event website:
Acquisition – This section will show you where your visitors and registrations are coming from. If you click on the ‘All Traffic’ tab and click on ‘Channels’, you’ll be able to see exactly how people arrived at your site – whether it was through an advert, a search engine, social media site, a referral or a piece of content that you contributed to another site. You can also identify the number of people that came to your site through your email campaigns.
Looking at all this data will help you identify which of the ‘channels’ are the largest drivers of traffic to your event website. Google makes it easier by listing the channels in the order of their driving power.
Audience – This is the section that gives you information about the visitors to your event website. It has lots of subsections that give you information about the gender, age and location of your website visitors. You can find out if they’re new visitors or returning ones. You can even uncover data on their interests, as well as the browsers and mobile devices they used to access your site.
Understanding where your visitors are coming from is helpful when want to capture their attention when they land on your website. For example, if you know that 40% of your visitors are from South America, you could deliver a more personalised experience by having a Spanish-version of your event website – have a look here at the benefits of using multilingual websites for your events. Or you could run your online ad campaigns in those countries that you see are frequently visiting your site.
Behavior – This section helps event planners understand how people are interacting with your website. The ‘Behavior Flow’ tab, shows you the user journey for your website visitors – from the page they enter your website to the pages they visit and the page they exit your site from (hopefully it should be your ‘thank you for registering’ page). It not only tells you how many people are going ahead and registering for your event, but also how many are abandoning it at a certain stage.
In ‘Site Content’, you can identify the visitors you get for each of your website pages. This is important as you’ll be able to see which pages on your website are the most and least popular – so you’ll be able to determine things like which streams or speaker bios people are interested in the most or vice-versa. The other useful feature in this section is ‘Landing Pages’, which shows you which pages people are landing on when they get to your site. This is important when you’re trying to measure the effectiveness of your social media and promotional activities.
Conversions – A conversion is the completion of an activity on your website, such as a registration, purchase or download. One of Google Analytic’s best features is the Goal Funnel within the Conversions section, with which you can set up a string of URLs that your event attendees click through to ‘convert’. This kind of information can help event planner adjust their content or strategy and make the registration experience a whole lot easier.
A useful user conversion for event planners is triggering a goal on a ‘Thank You’ or ‘Registration Confirmation’ page. By setting up funnel points on the ‘Register Now’ button, upon completion of the personal details page, and upon completion of the payment transaction, you can see exactly where users leave the funnel. This is displayed in Analytics with the ‘Funnel Drop-Offs’ metric – you can use this data to refine your forms and find out where users are leaving the site (allowing you to judge if you need to simplify your forms or provide different payment options).
Google Analytics can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. Set up an account if you haven’t got one already, and have a go at trying out the different features we looked at above. You can also have a look at the Google Analytics’ Solutions Gallery which is particularly useful for anyone new to analytics. It helps you import readily-made reports into your Analytics account that can help you quickly build some powerful dashboards. You can also use the reports as a guide to help you better understand the different things Google Analytics can do for you and your events.
-Koozai: Understanding basic Google Analytics terminology
-Forbes: 15 Google Analytics tricks to maximise your marketing campaign
-Search Engine Land: 7 Essential Google Analytics reports every marketer must know
-Kissmetrics: How to use Google Analytics to help shape your marketing strategy