Walkthrough – Identifying and understanding leads in Google Analytics

Feb 9th, 2018

Having a good grasp of analytics is vital for businesses if they are to grow. One component and a key metric to track is where your business leads are coming from

As I’m sure you all know, understanding where your leads and conversions are coming from is nearly as important as getting them in the first place.  If a business can learn from their output and see what works and what doesn’t they can tailor their marketing approach to ensure that their results improve.

If you can pinpoint things such as the format of a marketing communication, the location of it and the time in which it was released you will be in a far greater position to learn from its successes or failures. One platform that can aid you greatly in this department is Google Analytics. The following walkthrough will touch on where the leads come from and how to track them.

What is a lead?

This is the most important starting point and it is centres around what constitutes a lead for your company.

A lead, despite what you may think, is not a sale – that would be a conversion. The two are different stages of the purchase journey that are often confused with one another. A lead is nothing more than someone who has expressed an interest in your business.

It’s your job to follow up on this interest and turn that lead into a sale. According to Hubspot, there are five stages between the two and this is known as the customer lifecycle.

The stages are:

Lead– Leads are the first step in creating a customer. They’ve expressed more interest in your business than the average member of your target demographic but aren’t anywhere near the purchase decision point.

Marketing Qualified Lead – MQLs are the next stage of the sales funnel. These are the people who raise their hand and say, “This seems like a pretty sweet deal.” They’re interested and will likely purchase from you one day, but aren’t quite ready for it yet.

Sales Qualified Lead – An SQL is an MQL who has demonstrated an interest to purchase because they’ve got specific questions about what you offer. These are the people who need a one-on-one with your sales team.

Opportunity – Opportunities are the people who have become a real sales opportunity.

Customer – Someone who gives you money for your product or service.

There are many different actions that could lead to a sale for your business and it is important to have a general idea about what the trigger points are. Many businesses use a scoring system that allocates points to a user when they perform one of the following actions:

  • Fill in a contact form
  • Open an email
  • Request a call back
  • Book an appointment
  • Sign up to a newsletter
  • Download your content
  • View specific pages of your website
  • Enter live chat
  • Interact with your social media
  • Phone in

If, as an example you were to allocate 1 point to each of these ten possible actions, (note: there are plenty more) and a user opens an email they will receive 1 point.

If the second user opens an email, visits the website, downloads a document and requests a call back they will have performed 4 actions and therefore have 4 points. It is fair to assume that they will be further along the sales funnel and are a more ‘engaged’ user. You would then classify them a ‘warmer’ lead. Obviously this example needs some further context in that things like webpage visits are worth far less in terms of points than requesting a call back or a booking an appointment, but you get the idea.

According to Econsultancy: “Within a company you will know how much resource or budget you give to marketing each type of lead, but you’ll also want to find out how much you get out of each one, whether they give you a positive return and which might be more or less profitable than you think they are”.

What can you track?

It is possible to track anything on your website that has a dedicated URL, and this can be done very easily, all you need to do is use a confirmation page. This is done by setting up a goal in Analytics with the confirmation page as the URL Destination.

These goals should be set up for all pages that count as leads and given a value depending on what the average return per lead is (this can be adjusted once you have collected more data).

Check the goal ID

When it comes to where the leads are coming from, the first thing is to check the Google Analytics Goal ID.

By selecting the parent page or the goal set you can break the data down further and look at the actual live stats.

The first option you have is on the main dashboard:

Here you are able to look at four key metrics – Users, Sessions, Bounce Rate and Session Duration. These four things give you an opportunity to understand how many people are looking at you information and the time they are spending with you. The Bounce Rate metric allows you to plan for more engaging and relevant content. If you can draw users in and keep them by answering their quires, the bounce rate will drop and the audience is far more likely to become a lead or a conversion.

Another thing to look at when it comes to understanding what is triggering the first stage of the customer lifecycle is the time of the day metric. This shows you the exact moment that your audience are engaging with you. If you look at the example below you can see that there is strong performance between Tues-Thurs especially between 4pm and 9pm.

One trap that many businesses fall into here however is that they take these results as sacrosanct. It could be that the reason that these times are busy are not because of the audience but because these are the times that they are sent the information. Test various times or alter the sample size to look over a far greater time period and you will gain a greater insight.

The live users feature is a particularly good tool as you can track activity on the site straight after sending out any form of communication.

One of the other things that you can do is look at the traffic channel and gain valuable insights as to where the breakdown is. Looking at the image below you can see that the traffic channels have been split first by day and then by sector.

You are able to use these charts to see the percentages and volumes of different traffic sources including:

  • Display advertising – Display advertising is an online form of advertising that the company’s promotional messages appear on third party sites or search engine results pages such as publishers or social networks. The main purpose of display advertising is to support brand awareness and it also helps to increase a purchase intention of consumers.
  • Direct marketing – Direct marketing is a form of advertising where organisations communicate directly to customers through a variety of media including; text messaging, email, websites CTAs, online adverts, database marketing, fliers, catalogue distribution, promotional letters and targeted television, newspaper and magazine advertisements as well as outdoor advertising. It is also known as direct response.
  • Organic search (SEO) – The core of search marketing services, organic search (SEO) optimisation refers to the methods, markups and technology used to achieve a high position in search engine results pages (SERPs) or to improve rankings across a number of algorithmically driven search engines. The data shown in the above graph in this instance would relate to your website being returned by a search engine to a query and the user clicking on it. In truth this is the best form of marketing as it shows without doubt that you are relevant and appearing in the correct location.
  • Email – The term usually refers to sending email messages with the purpose of enhancing a merchant’s relationship with current or previous customers, encouraging customer loyalty and repeat business, acquiring new customers or convincing current customers to purchase something immediately, and sharing third-party ads.
  • Other – This data could come from the likes of social media or any other channels that you are currently running

Geographical tools in analytics can help a business to develop their strategy as they can see which countries their leads are coming from. This allows them to consider new markets and the possibility of using other languages or URLs to target a wider audience.

In terms of top-level data the last real metric businesses can use to look at where their leads are coming from is the device split. Whilst this only gives information based on where somebody is reading a communication it can also be very helpful. If you have a large proportion of you audience reading communications on mobile, then you may start to think about rolling out an app or some bespoke mobile content. It goes without saying that you should be ‘mobile ready’ and have optimised your content and images for the devices but have you considered the type of content. There is a strong correlation between image led, short, sharp text on mobile as well as content that is easily digestible at lunch and traditional commuting periods. Think about how you can get your message over if you only have a short window of exposure.

With all this to consider, an important point to note is that you have to make sure you take the time to double check your Google Analytics Goals before you move on to reporting.  Otherwise you’ll be making decisions based on incorrect data.

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