agency,conversion rate optimization

10 Google Analytics reports we love (and a couple gifs, too.)

  • Belle
  • ON
  • February 25, 2019
Did you know there are over 78 standard reports in Google Analytics? And that’s before you create any custom reports.
You have limited hours in the day and a finite marketing budget. So it’s important to spend your resources analyzing data that can have a meaningful impact on your business KPIs and bottom-line.
So the question is: how do you know where to start?
A little girl with pigtails shrugs and shakes her head. The caption says "IDK".
We’ve compiled a few of our favorite reports to help you get started or dig deeper with Google Analytics. We recommend you open up Analytics and follow along with your own data as we explore these reports. You just may be surprised by what you find.

In this post, you’ll learn about the reports we love, how to access them within Analytics, and how to derive meaningful data to help your business succeed. At Brain Bytes Creative, we use Google Analytics in conjunction with other CRO tools. (If CRO tools peaked your interest, you should read about the CRO techniques + tools we love!)

P.S. If you’re new to CRO, we recommend reading about what CRO is and taking a look at our CRO glossary.

1. Landing Pages Report: Where are users landing on my site? How are they interacting with each landing page?

A screenshot of the Google Analytics interface.
The landing page experience you serve your users dramatically influences what they do on your website.
When it comes to landing pages, the more you can align your pages with what users are looking for, the better. In fact, websites with 40 or more landing pages average twelve times more leads than sites with 5 or fewer.
Isn’t that wild? This is why you need to study which of your current landing pages are performing well.
  • How to get there: Behavior → Site Content → Landing Pages
  • What you’re looking for: This report is useful for seeing where users land on your site, and how they engage with the page they’ve landed on (and the site in general.) Specifically, look for these things in the Landing Pages report:
    • Pages that have a high bounce rate: A high bounce rate could indicate that the content on this landing page isn’t resonating with users. It may be too much info, not enough, or not the right content — meaning it could be higher or lower in the funnel or simply not what users are looking for.
    • Pages with a high session duration: A high session duration generally indicates that the landing page was engaging enough to encourage a user to stick around. Study the elements of the page to see what you can glean — and what you could test on other landing pages.
    • Pages that have a high conversion rate: If a specific landing page has a high ecommerce conversion rate, study it. What is unique about it? Does it have a lot of CTA’s? Is it short form or long form? Is the content specific or general? What kinds of visuals, multimedia and trust points are on the page? Note these elements, as you should test them on other landing pages.
    • Pages with a low conversion rate: A landing page with a low conversion rate is especially alarming when its a specific, lower-funnel landing page or when it’s a page that gets a lot of traffic. Take note and build out some tests to identify how you can better serve users.
    • Pages that get a lot of sessions: When you have a lot of landing pages where you can run tests, prioritize those with the most sessions.

2. Referrals Report: Where are my visitors coming from?

A screenshot of the Google Analytics interface.
Understanding where your users are coming from when they land on your site will help you align your website with their desires.
Are your users finding you through google search? Display ads? Social media? It matters.
  • How to get there:  Acquisition → All Traffic → Referrals
  • What you’re looking for:  This report shows you how users are finding your site.

3. Organic Keywords Report: Which keywords are bringing traffic to my site?

A screenshot of the Google Analytics interface.
Keywords are the cornerstone of search engine optimization (SEO), but did you know that they matter for CRO too?
Notice organic keywords are used to get traffic onto your site for free. They’re different than pay-per-click (PPC) keywords which are bid on.
GIF from Spongebob. Patrick gives aways boxes of free cash to a long line of fish.
  • How to get there:  Acquisition → Campaigns → Organic Keywords
  • What you’re looking for:  This report shows you which organic keywords are bringing traffic to your site, and how each segment of traffic is behaving.
    • Notice which keywords have the most users and sessions. This is where the bulk of your organic traffic is coming from. Based on their searches, can you tell what they’re looking for?
    • Which keywords have a high bounce rate? It’s likely those users aren’t finding what they need quickly on your site.

4. Source / Medium Report: What is the origin (example: google) and category (example: pay-per-click) of traffic arriving to my site?

A screenshot of the Google Analytics interface.
Understanding the sources and mediums of traffic landing on your site, and how they interact with various landing pages, can give you valuable insights into how your users behave.
  • How to get there: Acquisition → All Traffic → Source Medium + add secondary dimension “Landing page”
  • What you’re looking for: This report is useful for seeing where users come from and how they interact with a site. We like to add landing page as a secondary dimension, like I’ve shown above. This allows us to study how users from various sources engage with particular landing pages. These are some specific things we like to take note of in the Source Medium report:
    • Source Medium / Landing Page pairs with High Bounce Rates: This could indicate that a landing page is not resonating for a particular group of users. The content could be misaligned with what they’re looking for, or the design could be making it hard for users to find what they need easily.
    • Source Medium / Landing Page pairs with Low Conversion Rates: Again, this could indicate that users are not finding what they’re looking for, or that you’re not presenting the content in a way that leads them to convert.
    • Source Medium / Landing Page pairs with High Conversion Rates: Take note of sources and landing pages that have high e-commerce conversion rates and see what you can learn. Are those landing pages long? Short? Detailed? Do they contain multimedia? What kinds of CTA’s do they have?

5. Behavior Flow Report: How are users navigating through my site?

A screenshot of the strategic flowchart from Google Analytics.
One study showed that 47% of users look at the products/services page of a website before clicking around to other pages.
Do you know what the most common paths are for users to take on your site? How about which paths convert the highest? Are those paths the same or different? How can you make them more similar?
  • How to get there: Behavior → Behavior Flow
  • What you’re looking for: This report shows you how users navigate through your site. As you study the report, ask yourself:
    • What are the most popular paths users take? Are they leading to conversions?
    • Are users going straight to checkout or viewing multiple product pages?
    • Note: you can also filter for new vs. returning users and frequency vs. recency.

6. Mobile Overview Report: How are visitors interacting with my website when they use mobile devices?

A screenshot of Google Analytics showing acquisition, behavior, and conversions by device type.
This year mobile officially surpassed desktop use for the 1st time. The average American checks their phone every 12 minutes (which is 80x per day!) And according to the Pew Research Center, over half (51%) of Americans make purchases through their smartphones.
A GIF of Drake is a tilted blue and pink room. Caption reads, "Call me on my cell phone".
Even when your customers are in physical stores, use their phones as part of their decision making process. Now more than ever, you need to understand mobile-first CRO.
  • How to get there:  Audience → Mobile → Overview
  • What you’re looking for:  
    • How are mobile users behaving differently than those on desktop? How about tablet?
    • What percentage of your users are on mobile?
    • How does the bounce rate compare to desktop?
    • How about session duration and number of pages visited?
    • Conversion rate?
These data points can give you really important insight on how to optimize for your mobile audience.

7. Site Search Report: What are users searching on my site?

A screenshot of the Google Analytics interface.
What are users searching for on your site? This report can give you enormous insight into what content you need to make more easily accessible for your users.
  • How to get there:  Behavior → Site Search
  • What you’re looking for:  
    • The million dollar question: What are your users looking for? What are some popular search terms?
Depending on what you discover, you may find that you need to make certain CTAs easier to find, or that you need to build out high or mid funnel content people are searching for.

8. “Converters” Visitor Segment: How do users who convert behave differently than those who don’t, leading up to their conversion?

A screenshot of the Google Analytics interface.
It’s amazing to think about the data we have access to compared to marketers 20 or 30 years ago. In the 80s and 90s, marketers had to rely heavily on industry market research or commission expensive studies to get real data points. Or worse — rely on guesswork and hunches.
But today, that guesswork is replaced with data. We can isolate particular segments and study how they behave. For example, how to users who convert into customers behave differently than those who don’t?
  • How to get there:  Sign in → Reports → Add Segment → New Segment → Create a “Converters” segment. Then, go to the Behavior Overview report and add the Converters segment.  
  • What you’re looking for:  
    • What do users who convert have in common? Do they spend more time on the page? Less time? Do they visit more pages?
This should inform how you optimize your site: building more pages, adding more content, simplifying your design, etc. How you optimize should be based on the data you see here.

9. Multi-channel Funnels Report: How do micro conversions, previous referrals and searches lead to overall conversions?

Screenshot of a multi-channel conversion visualizer.
The Google developers guide says “Multi-Channel Funnels reports are generated from conversion paths: the sequences of interactions (e.g. clicks/referrals from channels) that led up to each conversion and transaction.” Understanding these reports can help you understand the user journey of your customers.
  • How to get there:  Conversions → Multi-channel Funnels → Overview
  • What you’re looking for:  
    • What types of assisted conversions do you see?
    • How to various types of traffic: organic, direct, paid, referral, social and display contribute to conversions?  

10. Exit Pages Report: Which pages are my users last visiting before leaving my website?

A screenshot of the Google Analytics interface.
Exit pages can show you where your users are dropping off. This can give you insight into what types of content you should add or how you can serve your users a better CTA or next step to keep them on your site.
  • How to get there:  Behavior → Site Content → Exit Pages
  • What you’re looking for:  
    • Which pages have the highest exit rates?
    • What types of content is on those pages? Is it high or low funnel?
    • What types of CTAs are you offering on those pages?
GIF of Pam and Jim from the Office, air-fiving each other.

Phew! That was a lot. (Time for some high fives!) Hopefully now you have some great data jumping-off points to create some AB tests for your site.

Thinking about using an agency? Here are our tips for choosing a great CRO agency. Want to contact Brain Bytes Creative? You can do that here.

Thanks for reading! Hope it was helpful.

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