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Numbers or Narrative? Making Google Analytics Tell a Powerful Story

Numbers_or_Narrative_Making_Google_Analytics_Tell_a_Powerful_StoryWhen I was about 10 years old, I was chosen to represent my school in a storytelling festival. I spent weeks rehearsing a story about a terrifying gorilla. I can still remember that nervous feeling as I began to tell my story to a room full of strangers. As I told my story, that feeling quickly turned to excitement and a sense of accomplishment. It was at that moment that I first realized the tremenous power of storytelling.

That power is more relevant than ever today—when salespeople are challenged to explain Google Analytics to their clients. And to make those analytics tell a powerful story.

Over the past few months, I have had a lot of questions from salespeople regarding Google Analytics. They want to know how website analytics can help them show the performance of the campaigns they’re running for clients. The answer is not just in the numbers, but also in how you use the numbers in a narrative that makes the performance come alive.

Website analytics are loaded with information, and with thoughtful analysis, insight as well. Simply communicating numbers from a client’s Google Analytics report might put your client to sleep, but you can strike gold if you can draw them in with a story of how the campaign is achieving results. In order to tell your story, you need to gain access to their analytics, of course, but equally important, you need to have a clear picture of what they want to accomplish with their campaign.  

For some clients, you can look to the basic metrics like site traffic, time spent on site, or bounce rate. These can provide a general understanding of the traffic that you might be driving to a website, or if visitors are spending more time on the site as a result of a campaign. But the lines begin to blur if there are multiple resources directing potential consumers to a website. 

So where do you start?  

In order to really use analytics to determine campaign performance, you need to fully understand the goals of the campaign. That means setting campaign goals with your client before it begins. You need to establish a clear response path for the campaign, and to know what action is expected or desired from the potential consumer once they get to the site. Use that information to determine which metrics will be most important to study and analyze in order to show performance.

If the goal is to increase engagement with specific content on a website, focusing on overall site traffic would do little to impress the client. To use analytics to tell an impressive story, you need to dig deeper. You will need to examine the pages within the website that contain that content to determine increases in traffic or time spent there. You can also look to the acquisition data, specifically by examining the keywords consumers are using to find the website. Look for increases in traffic by keywords specific to your creative and your campaign goals.

Don’t just dump numbers on your client and expect a favorable response. Develop a narrative focused on the goals and how they were achieved. Analytics can be a powerful tool, but only when you know what is most important to your client. There’s a story in the data. Find it and tell it. The client will understand, remember it, and appreciate you.

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Topics: Digital