How to get more out of your Christmas traffic

By 2nd December 2014Digital Strategy, Ecommerce
Crazy web stats

Christmas holiday season is usually a peak period for online shops. Making the most of this period is important to make sure that you’re found online and convince new visitors to come back once the holiday season is over. This can be done by creating helpful, fun and relevant content for your clients. I know, I know… the create-great-content-and-they-will-come-mantra isn’t the most helpful piece of advice when you don’t know what great content means for your visitors.

I’ve written some blog articles on how to organise and structure your team to create a data driven organisation. The tool behind this, the tool I work with the most, my friend indeed, is Google Analytics. My enthusiasm for Google Analytics used to be met with glazed-over eyes, deaf ears or indicative yawns, but over the past years though I’ve noticed a change. Organisations are now less willing to put the fate of their online business in the hands of the company HIPPO (highest paid person’s opinion) and instead turn to Google Analytics where they can dig out statistics to make data driven decisions.

As a certified Google Analytics professional (or Data Nerd), I thought it would be a good idea to share some insights around how Google Analytics can be used to prolong that Christmas bump of traffic. To give you a good and timely example of just how useful it can be – I will share:

  • How to use data to decide content production just in time for Christmas
  • How to keep the Christmas bump of visitors to come back to your site

What to do in Google Analytics Before Christmas

First of all you need to find a good way to quickly access the content that you will want to drill into. This can be done with Content Grouping. This feature allows you to group content type pages like product pages, blog articles, service pages etc. together. This gives you a good overview and allows you to quickly see which of the pages within each content group that are working.

Content Grouping

Content grouping in Google AnalyticsGo to the admin section and click ‘content group’ under the view you are working with. You’ll see three different ways to build a content group. Depending on how your site is set up, one way will make the most sense for you. If you chose ‘group using rule definitions’ you can quite easily group pages which all include the same part of a URL e.g. /blog.

Bear in mind that content grouping will kick in from the day you create and save the filter. You cannot see historical data. With the content grouping in place you can now quickly see which blog posts are driving visitors and which aren’t. Simply go to ‘all pages and sort the table by content grouping. You will find the content grouping option just above the main table.

Find content that works

By looking through the content that your visitors read the most, you can plan more of the same and figure out the elements that works.

If you haven’t set up any goals before, this is the time to start! You probably have some goals in mind for your website. For ecommerce sites your goal is likely to be: sell stuff. It might also be to get more people to sign up to your newsletter or read your blog posts.

The good thing with Google Analytics is that you can measure these goals. One of the most powerful tools are the funnel visualisation and the goal flow reports. If your goal is to sell stuff you will want to set up a checkout goal. Go to the admin section of your GA account. Click goals under the view you wish to use. Use goal type ‘destination’. Add the steps a visitor takes when making a purchase on your site e.g. cart > checkout > thank you page. The reason you add the thank you page (the page a visitor see after completing a purchase) is to mark where the goal is reached. Once the goal is set up you can go to the ‘funnel visualisation’ or ‘goal flow’ report. These reports will show you on which pages your visitor drop off during their shopping journey.

Goal flow Google Analytics

What to do in Google Analytics After Christmas

Set the date range to start from the day that you started your online campaigns. If you didn’t have any campaigns in place for this year’s holiday season you can start measuring from the day you see an increase in traffic.

Goals

Preferably, you should have optimised your purchase funnel way before Christmas….but if you haven’t then you will at least now have useful statistics on what pages were working/not working on your site. Go to the funnel visualisation to see where your visitors drop off on their way to make a purchase. If you see that the majority of visitors drop of on a specific page, you want to test that page further. Is the action on the page unclear? Is there any ambiguity in your text? Is your call to action imperative and clear?

Once you think you know how the page(s) can be improved it’s time to test new versions. By using A/B testing [link] for your new page designs you can quickly see which tweak will push more visitors to complete a purchase.

New visitors + source/medium

Open up the new vs. returning visitor report. Does the behaviour between these two groups differ? If so, how? By adding a secondary dimension like source/medium you can see which channels your new visitors come from.

You might for example notice that a specific newsletter, affiliate or ppc campaign has worked very well in bringing in new visitors to your site. With this information in hand you can plan for next month’s online marketing budget.

However, it’s important to separate the wheat from the chaff. One or more campaign might have brought in plenty of traffic but which campaign converts most visitors? Look at the ecommerce conversion rates for each channel.

Furthermore, you should look into the specific campaigns to see what worked well in each one. Is there a trend in the campaigns or blogs that works? If you can find this trend, great! Get cracking on creating more of whatever was working.

Product pages

Christmas dogWith the help of content grouping you can now quickly access your product pages to see which products are the most popular. You might notice that one specific product or product category is more popular than others. This can of course indicate seasonal trends but it can also indicate which products to use in banner ads and social media as you communicate your brand in the months that follow Christmas (unless you’re selling Santa Hats…). It also gives you a good idea of what to write blog posts about after the holidays and/or by the start of next year’s holiday season.

All pages

You probably have some acquisition tactics in place like driving traffic with the help of blog posts or videos. Look at your top landing pages; which non-product pages are driving the most traffic?

Conversion is your main goal but different pages and initiatives can have different goals. For example, the main purpose of your newsletter is to drive more sales but the main purpose of your blog might be to get more people to sign up to your newsletter! Make sure that you understand the purpose of your different initiatives before you measure them.

For example, one of our most popular blog post is about how to view a locally hosted website with a smartphone. This blog doesn’t get us more clients but it helps us connect with web developers and give something back to the community. We measure the success of this blog in terms of sessions, time on page and comments.

Once you understand what the goals of your pages are and how to measure it, drill into the most popular landing pages to see if they deliver the KPIs you’ve set. Look at the ones that work – and create more of the same. This might be to create more how-to videos, blog posts about how you source your products, photos from behind the scenes in your office etc.

Internal search

Site search overview in Google AnalyticsThe last piece of advice for now is to look at your internal search. This will require that you a) have internal search on your site 2) that you’ve set up Google Analytics to track this.

Go to the site search report in Google Analytics and look at the most used search terms. This will give you a good idea of what your visitors are looking for. Not only can you see the most used search terms you can also see on which page most searches are done.

This information is content fuel! Use this insight to create more blog posts, newsletters and ppc campaigns! This section can also be used to tweak your pages. If you see that a lot of searches are made on page x you might consider adding useful information on that page.

Setting up Google Analytics properly can take some time and effort and usually requires a bit of understanding of your business objectives as well as Google Analytics. Done right, Google Analytics (or equivalent analytics tools) can be used to optimise your site and the way you organise your team. An efficiently organised team will be able to quickly catch non-working pages, tweak blog editorials, and improve your visitors’ site experience.

If you want to know more about Google Analytics, web analysis or our Insight & Action Report, contact us!