In Part 1 of this series, we outlined why having access to a client’s Google Analytics can be beneficial for a PR program. From being able to identify which pieces of earned coverage drove the most traffic to a client’s website to analyzing data that can be used to make strategic program decisions, the initial reasons why Google Analytics is a powerful tool for PR professionals is evident. So, what’s next?
Welcome New & Returning Visitors
We looked at how to identify which pieces of earned coverage drove traffic to a client’s website, but that’s merely scraping the service with visitor data.
Within the Referrals section, Google Analytics outlines the percentage of users who visited the website for the first time and who is a returning visitor. Although it is only a piece, not a direct indicator, of increased awareness as a result of a PR team’s work, the increase in new number of visitors to a client’s website, the better. Though the overall percentage of new users per month may only increase a small amount, the steady increase over time will not only play a key role in the success of the PR team, but the success of a program and partnership.
So a PR team has driven an amazing amount of new visitors to a client’s website throughout the duration of the PR program through earned coverage, social campaigns, paid promotions, etc. But, in order to point to substantial visits, I direct you to the Bounce Rate. Again within the Referral section, Bounce Rate percentages state how many people came to the client’s website and immediately left.
Think about that time you clicked on a link by accident – you were counted as a visitor on the page’s Google Analytics, yet you most likely did not read a single word, yet ingest any messaging from the site. That visit ultimately is a waste of a click. Bounce Rates should be low percentages – the lower the better – and are good indications of the types of visitors the site is attracting. The lower the Bounce Rate, the stronger the indication that visitors are interested in the client’s products and services.
Sit Down, Stay a While
As the number of visitors (new and returning) increases and bounce rate decreases, the next piece of information provided by Google Analytics that is important is the Pages / Session. Here (yes, in the Referral session), a PR professional can see the average number of pages that visitors viewed on the client’s website (Avg. Pages / Session). The greater number of pages indicates that visitors are clearly interest in the client’s offerings, and would like to learn more. Now, this isn’t to say that each person who spends a lot of time on the site is a potential customer, but these people are much more valuable than those who bounce immediately or only view one page.
As people view more and more pages on a website, they spend a greater amount of time reading and absorbing your client’s messaging. Next to the pages / session column is the Avg. Session Duration. Here a PR professional can see how long a visitor spent on each page. While some may click through simply looking for a specific piece of information, others may spend more time reading through a full page, such as About, Products, Blog, etc. Presented in a minutes and seconds format, those with access to a Google Analytics page can correlate the average number of pages viewed and the average session duration to indicate the perceived quality of the visitors and website content. The more the merrier – and can be tied directly to the success of a PR program when analyzing visitors who came to the site as a result of a link included in a piece of earned coverage.
Google Analytics offers troves of data that PR professionals can analyze and leverage as tangible results of a PR program. PR professionals who have access to clients’ Google Analytics are one step ahead of the competition – and expertise in analyzing the data is a clear competitive advantage as they move throughout their careers.
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