How web analytics can help you drive referrals

by Andrew Stone August 17, 2015

Referral traffic – site visits from sources other than a search engine – tells the story of where your website visitors come from, what pages they visit, how long they stay for, the actions they take and what content they like most.

Understanding your referral traffic will show which external sources are most valuable in helping your business achieve its goals – for example, whether your LinkedIn or other social media pages really do drive referrals and, ultimately, sales.

Every broker has a powerful tool to help them do this. It’s called Google Analytics. It’s free, relatively easy to get to grips with and can produce rapid results.

Add Google Analytics to your website

Sign up to Google Analytics and follow the prompts. After embedding the tracking code it gives you for your website, you will soon start gathering information on who is visiting your site, how and (hopefully) why.

Philippa Gamse, author of 42 Rules for a Web Presence that Wins, says before you start analysing the data, you should first ask a few basic questions.

“It’s boring and fundamental, but a lot of businesses gloss over the most important questions: what are the things my business wants and how will we measure success for each of those? Set these outcomes from the outset so you know what success will look like.”

Tweak your dashboard to make the data tell a clearer story

Google offers a starter dashboard that summarises some of the most commonly sought after web traffic information. It can make a good starting point from which you can customise the presentation of data to best suit your own preferences. You can choose data to be presented as tables, pie charts or bar charts, as well as display data by different geographies.

Gamse, a seasoned digital marketing expert, recommends customising your dashboard to give thumbnail reports of the things you are most interested in. “Not many people are doing it intelligently, and you have to think about it intelligently if you want to get intelligent results.

“Ask yourself: ‘How do I want customers to engage?’ Then set up your analytics to monitor this. Set goals in your analytics. For example, have a goal that people subscribe to your newsletter or complete an order and then measure per number of visitors how many goals you reached.”

Weed out the bad metrics

According to Dee Blick, author of The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Book, identifying irrelevant metrics is as important as identifying the useful ones. “I see many companies see visitor numbers up on their website, think it’s working and go off to do something else.

“But unless you’ve figured out what you want to happen, statistics like visitor numbers may not tell you anything useful. In fact, the wrong type of visitors could be a bad thing if you’re paying for those visitors to come to you from paid ads, for example.

“If you don’t delve deeply, you could be unaware that the large proportion of money you’re spending on getting visitors isn’t generating any useful leads.”

Keep learning

The basics are easy to learn, but Google Analytics has powerful advanced features that can really help you move the dial on referrals over time.

Set aside a small amount of time every week to get to grips with some of the more advanced features of Google Analytics via the Analytics Academy. You will soon be on your way to using the insights to increase your website’s referral traffic.

To learn more about how your website’s analytics can help drive more referrals, please contact us.

Andrew Stone

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Andrew Stone is a seasoned business journalist and former small business editor of the Sunday Times in London. He writes about entrepreneurship, SMEs and all things digital for a range of business titles.

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