When it comes to Google Analytics, sometimes less can be more.
After all, the goal of any good analytics program is to distill a few key insights from a massive haystack of raw data. It’s reasonable to assume that focusing on a few major reports is likely going to offer much more clarity than getting lost in many trivial ones.
But which reports, exactly, are the right ones?
For B2B software companies looking to gain a competitive edge from a data standpoint, there are three key reports available in Google Analytics that are both very powerful and often neglected. Implemented correctly, these reports will give you the insight you need to get into the mind of your customer and help guide your marketing strategy.
Goal tracking is one of the single most important things you can set to improve in your Google Analytics program. In the B2B software realm, customer journeys are often long and complex. If you want to draw actionable insights from that giant mass of data, you have to first know which parts of the journey you’re optimizing and what you want to achieve, then designing your analytics program to measure those precise outcomes.
It’s not enough just to track raw conversion numbers. Many important steps in the B2B customer journey do not involve a direct exchange of money, but are worth an implicit dollar amount nonetheless. For example, if 10% of visitors who start a free trial eventually become paying customers worth $1,000 in lifetime value, then the implicit value of each trial signup is $100. Meanwhile, you might only see a 1% conversion rate on your newsletter subscriber list, which would put the value of a newsletter signup at $10.
By assigning appropriate values to these specific actions, you can build an accurately weighted picture of website activity. This will help to better understand the quality of incoming leads, and prioritize the highest-value growth opportunities.
There are a number of different ways to set up goal tracking, and the right setup depends on your specific needs. This Google guide provides more information on how to implement the feature.
Micro-conversions are an essential piece of the B2B marketing puzzle. Due to the relatively low lead flow on most B2B software sites, it’s likely not going to be realistic for your business to limit its analytics program to ultimate conversion events, such as a request for a quote, or a signup for a free trial. Instead, companies often need to track events that occur much earlier in the funnel, where they can count on a higher volume of visitors – such as watching a key video, initiating a live chat, or downloading a customer success story.
While goal tracking can help with this, it’s rarely sufficient by itself, as it doesn’t provide any insight into specific patterns of user engagement. This is critical for understanding micro-conversions, as they typically involve non-binary outcomes. It’s not necessarily enough to know that a visitor viewed a video on your website; it’s also important to know how that video was viewed.
That’s where event tracking comes in. Event tracking is different from goal tracking in that it’s a lot more granular. Instead of emphasizing the number of interactions with a specific piece of content, it focuses more on the quality of those interactions by analyzing the actions taken.
Taking the example of an educational video, event tracking would allow your business to track actions such as plays, rewinds, and clicks on call-to-action buttons. This can help to understand specific elements throughout your website (or in this case – your video) that customers are most interested in. If most viewers skip past a certain segment, for instance, it’s likely that the content within that segment isn’t engaging enough, and you should think of a way to rework it, or cut it out entirely.
Simply put, intelligent event tracking will allow B2B marketers to go deep when going wide is not an option.
For more of a breakdown on how to implement event tracking for your website, view Google’s informational video below.
As stated earlier, B2B customers almost never make direct purchases on a first visit to your website. Instead, most prefer to gather information from multiple vendors and revisit their sites a few times before making a final decision.
Due to the complexity of this process, choosing the right attribution model is key to obtaining accurate results.
B2B companies cannot simply default to a last-click attribution model, like many of their B2C counterparts. This model gives all of the conversion credit to the final click performed by the user before conversion. That might be fine for a high-volume B2C retailer, as many customers will simply click on a link and make an immediate purchase. In a B2B context, however, that customer is much more likely to have searched directly for a solution to their problem, found your website and browsed a few pages, downloaded a white paper to read over the weekend, saw some of your retargeting ads, received a marketing email the following week, and then clicked through and signed up for a free trial. In that scenario, does the call-to-action on that last marketing email deserve 100% of the credit? Certainly not.
It’s important for B2B businesses to use a multi-channel attribution model that will divide the credit between several key interactions. After all, doing this allows you to get a better understanding of how your various marketing efforts are helping to move customers through their journey. While Google Analytics offers tremendous flexibility for customizing your own model, there are three standard models that are particularly relevant for B2B websites that are strapped on marketing resources:
• Linear: Assigns equal credit to every single touchpoint. This is a simple model that can work well when you’re unsure about which touchpoints are more important, although it almost certainly overvalues some touchpoints and undervalues others.
• Time Decay: Assigns the most credit to the last touchpoint, and decreasing credit to each previous touchpoint. This makes intuitive sense in some cases, because the most recent touchpoints are sometimes more influential, but it could potentially overvalue those last few touchpoints nonetheless.
• Position-Based: Assigns 40% of the credit to the first and last touchpoint, and distributes the remaining 20% between all other touchpoints. This emphasizes the most important touchpoints, but might undervalue those in the middle.
Needless to say, attribution models are a complex topic, and you should carefully consider the customer journey for each buyer persona before choosing yours. For a closer look at these attribution models, as well as how to build your own, check out Avinash Kaushik’s great guide.
A well-designed analytics program should help you to cut out the noise and focus on the few things that really matter. These three reports are a great place start if you’re looking to utilize Google Analytics more intelligently without a significant time investment. By improving your goal, event and attribution tracking, you’ll be able to obtain cleaner, more accurate insights from Google Analytics that will help you understand your customers at a much deeper level, allowing you to make more strategic decisions and positioning you for further growth.