Are you looking for the right Google Analytics KPIs to track but don't know where to start?
Well, have no fear!
We've compiled this list of the top 13 metrics you can use as key performance indicators to better track the results of your marketing efforts and start improving your digital marketing strategy today:
- 1) Users and Sessions
- 2) New and Returning Users
- 3) Session Source/Medium
- 4) Most Popular Search Queries
- 5. Top Landing Pages
- 6. Average Session Duration
- 7. Bounce Rate
- 8. Exit Rate
- 9. User Demographics
- 10. Goal Conversion Rate
- 11. Funnel Conversion Rate
- 12. Return On Ad Spend (ROAS)
- 13. Bounce Rate by Device/Browser
We're going to take a look at each of these key metrics in more detail and why they're important.
But first, let’s do a quick crash course on what KPIs are and how they’re different from ordinary metrics.
The needs of your business are unique, so it's important to know how to choose the right ones to help you best reach your goals.
In the past, we’ve written extensively about the differences between KPIs and metrics. But the point is so important, that’s worth discussing before we dive into the list of KPIs to track in Google Analytics.
That’s because I often see marketers fill their reports with metrics, not KPIs.
So what’s the difference?
Metrics are neutral pieces of data that tell you what things are. They’re neither good nor bad - they simply let you know what’s going on.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) on the other hand, are metrics put in the context of a concrete goal.
By that, I mean KPIs are never neutral. They either hit the mark or they didn’t. In other words, KPIs always indicate whether a marketing strategy was “good” or “bad” based on a predetermined objective.
Here’s an example:
Your bounce rate (the number of people who click on your site and then immediately leave), might be 80%. Some of you may be twinging because that’s “high.”
But on its own, 80% is merely a metric. It doesn’t actually tell you much of anything.
And it’s only “high” if your goal is to have a bounce rate under 80%. Some large businesses (I have an 8-figure business in mind) are totally fine with an 80% bounce rate for their posts. For them, bounce rate isn’t even a KPI at all.
Their KPIs are for sales and so long as those keep going up, they’re happy.
Other businesses (such as those in the financial industry, for example) would be aiming for a bounce rate of 40-60%. For them, they have a clear goal that an 80% bounce rate would miss. This turns a metric into a KPI and lets them know some part of their content strategy needs to be changed.
Why do I bring this up? Because today, we’re looking at KPIs to track with Google Analytics. But you need to remember that these are common KPIs used by most companies.
They’re not written in stone.
In other words, you should look at these 13 KPIs and take them with a grain of salt. If you think they’ll help you improve, great!
If not, don’t add them just for the sake of it. That’s what we call in the marketing world a “vanity metric” that’s made to make you feel good, but doesn’t actually lead to tangible growth.
With that in mind, let’s dive into our list.
Before staring, I wanted to mention something important. While you can create marketing reports with Google Analytics, it’s not always recommended.
First, Google Analytics can be intimidating unless you’re used to the user interface (UI). Many marketers feel so overwhelmed by all the data slapping them in the face that they end up not checking in as often as they should.
Second, native Google Analytics reports won’t give you other crucial data for your marketing strategy. You may need more information from paid ads on social media, organic posts on social media, email marketing, and any other channel you use to get new leads and customers.
So, how do you build a comprehensive marketing report to make your life easier? That’s where Metrics Watch comes in:
Metrics Watch is the best marketing report builder on the market. It has a drag and drop builder so you can quickly create professional reports for your entire team.
Then, you can determine who needs the data and send it straight to their inbox on a daily, monthly, or weekly basis.
Metrics Watch integrates with all of your favorite marketing platforms, and we can even create custom integrations if you don’t see the ones you’re looking for.
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Now, let’s dive into our list of the top KPI analytics you should track with Google.
Users and sessions are one of the most basic metrics that Google Analytics offers, but one that every website owner will want to track.
“Users” is simply Google’s name for website visitors. And each visit a person makes to your site is one session. So, if five people have each visited your site twice, you will have five users and ten sessions.
Although you expect to see your number of users and sessions ebb and flow over time, tracking it can tell you a lot about your business and your marketing success.
If you’ve been investing a lot in marketing campaigns and SEO but your users and sessions are staying static or even dropping, then you know you have some changes to make.
And if you track trends in users and sessions over time, you can uncover seasonal trends that indicate busier times of the year. This can help prepare you for seasonal promotions and leveraging periods of the year with higher traffic. .
Tracking your new and returning users gives you a more detailed picture of how your acquisition and retention plans are working.
A high number of returning users is great news for your retention rates and brand loyalty. It shows people remember your site and are coming back again and again.
A high number of new users suggests that your marketing campaigns and SEO efforts are paying off. In other words, you’re successfully building brand awareness and reaching new audiences.
Don’t forget to set goals for these metrics to turn them into KPIs. This will help you track what changes you’re making that either attract or repel your site’s visitors.
Having visitors find your site is great news. But you’ll also want to know where they are coming from, especially if you’re using a range of different marketing channels and campaigns.
Google Analytics lets you look at which platform your website traffic is coming from (source) and whether they have come organically or from paid advertising (medium).
This helps you to track the ROI from your various marketing channels, as well as judge the effectiveness of your SEO and content strategy.
You can also drill down deeper by setting up campaigns and using UTMs to identify which marketing campaigns are driving the most traffic to your site.
For this one, you’ll need to link your Google Analytics with Google Ads and Google Search Console. Once you’ve done that, you can track the most effective keywords from both your PPC campaigns and your organic searches.
This helps you determine which of the keywords you’re targeting are bringing you the most traffic. You can also see whether you’re getting a lot of visitors via irrelevant search terms, which will hurt your conversion and bounce rates.
Knowing which pages on your site are the most popular helps you to understand what your audience finds interesting. This lets you plan your content strategy accordingly.
You can also use this information to position your calls to action (CTAs) where they will have the most impact.
Google Analytics will show you which pages get the most visits. You can also track the average time spent on each page to see where site visitors are spending the most time – generally an indicator that they are more engaged with the content on that page.
Once you have visitors on your site, you want them to stay there long enough to get a sense of your brand and what you are offering. The longer they spend on your site, the more engaged they are, and the more likely it is that they will become a customer.
This is where measuring your average engagement time is useful. It tells you whether people are staying to explore what you have to offer or are quickly browsing a few pages and then exiting.
You can also use it along with another metric, conversion rate, to give you an idea of how good the user experience (UX) of your site is.
If people are spending a long time on your site but your conversion rate is still low, it might suggest they can’t easily find what they are looking for.
Your bounce rate indicates users who only visit one page on your website and then exit without exploring any further.
This is important because it can help you troubleshoot issues on your site.
If your bounce rate is high, it can indicate your site is loading slowly or is poorly optimized for the type of device your audience is accessing it on. Or it might simply mean that your content isn’t engaging enough for the keywords it’s ranking for.
A high bounce rate can also suggest that you are targeting the wrong audiences. They are leaving quickly because your site isn’t what they were after.
You can see the bounce rate per page as well, which lets you find the pages with the highest bounce rates and make the appropriate changes to address this.
At first glance, exit rate and bounce rate might sound like the same thing.
Google differentiates between them though. Where bounce rate measures users who exit after visiting just one page, exit rate tells you where the visitors who have been to two or more pages on your site were when they decided to leave.
It isn’t tracked as an overall metric for your entire site, as everyone who visits will eventually leave. Instead, you’ll see the exit rate per page.
Some pages you want to have a high exit rate, like the thank you page after visitors make a purchase.
But if your visitors are exiting before they get to that stage, being able to tell where they are leaving can help you identify where you might need to tweak your copy.
Often you won’t know much about your website visitors until they become customers. But Google Analytics can help you out. It gives you demographic data on your audiences, including their country, location, language, age, gender, and even their broad interests.
This is useful as a KPI because you want the majority of site visitors to fit within your target audience. If they don’t, they are less likely to find your offer attractive. Which means you need to tweak your marketing, so you reach the right people.
Or, if your conversion rate is still high, it might suggest you need to reassess who your target audience actually is.
Conversions in Google Analytics don’t necessarily have to equal direct sales. You can set up conversion goals around email or blog subscribes, downloads, people who filled out your contact form – whatever indicators of success mean most to your site.
What this KPI does indicate is the percentage of visitors who take the action you want them to take.
As you might imagine, this is a really important one when it comes to evaluating the success of your website copy in inspiring your visitors to take the next step.
It also helps you to measure whether you are targeting the right audience – a low conversion rate suggests that the people landing on your site aren’t looking for what you’re selling.
This is a more complicated one to track as it requires you to set up some funnels in Google Analytics.
But it is useful wherever you have a defined customer journey and want to know that it is working as expected.
Tracking funnel conversions provide a more nuanced picture than the conversion rate on its own. It shows you how successful that funnel is in driving sales. And it helps you identify common exit points, so you can tweak your copy or customer journey accordingly.
If you're running PPC campaigns with Google Ads, then you'll want to be tracking your return on ad spend (ROAS) of the landing pages that you're directing traffic to.
ROAS is used to assess whether or not your campaigns are profitable and is expressed as either a percentage or a ratio.
For example, if you spend $200 on a Google Ads campaign and it generates $1000 in revenue, then this would give you a ROAS of 5:1 (as a ratio) or 500% (as a percentage).
There are many factors that go into calculating an accurate ROAS than the cost of your PPC campaign alone, so be sure you know How to Build (& Understand) Your ROAS Calculation properly before adding this to your marketing reports!
Tracking the bounce rate by browser or device type can be a helpful metric for identifying technical errors and incompatibility issues that your website may be having for users.
On average, your bounce rates should be relatively even across the board. However, if you notice that your Chrome bounce rate is much higher than your Safari bounce rate, for example, it could indicate that there are issues needing to be fixed that are affecting page loading speeds or mobile user experience.
And that’s it!
These have been the top 13 Google Analytics KPIs that you can start tracking today to improve your marketing campaigns!
I hope you found this post helpful. If you enjoyed it, you may also want to check out the following resources:
- How to Accurately Track Google Analytics Funnels (in Minutes)
- Best Marketing Analytics Tools to Ensure Your Company’s Growth
- 3 Ways to Create Marketing Reports for Funnel Hacking
- How to Finish First With 2 of Google’s Top Tools
These resources will have everything you need to build better marketing reports and see a larger ROI from your outreach strategies.