The Apartment Marketer's Guide to Google Analytics

During our first 30th with 30 Lines Hangout, Mike Whaling shared some tips for making the most of Google Analytics. Although it offers lots of great stats about your website’s traffic, Analytics out of the box is not set up to provide the information you need to be a more effective marketer.

Fortunately, there are tools and services you can combine with Analytics to give you a more in-depth look at how your site is performing, and what users are doing when they get there. We’ll list them here, along with Mike’s helpful hints for using Analytics data to better understand where to focus your efforts across marketing channels— both online and offline.

Universal Analytics

Google recently upgraded their entire Analytics platform to a new version called Universal Analytics. This update changes the way data is collected and organized in your Google Analytics account, so you can get a clearer understanding of how people are interacting with your site. Check that your site has been upgraded to Universal Analytics. Then you’ll be able to make use of Demographics and Interests Reports, which have age, gender, and interest categories that provide additional clues about who’s visiting your site.

Google Webmaster Tools

Webmaster Tools (GWT) gives you a detailed report about the way Google sees the “health” of your site, including broken pages and links, structural issues related to code, who’s linking to your site, and which queries generate impressions in search results for your site. It also gives you recommendations for resolving site problems.

Webmaster Tools isn’t really optional. If you want to see where you rank for the terms people are searching to get to your site, you’ll want to connect GWT to your site’s Analytics profile. You’ll also be able to access Google Analytics reports directly from the Links to your Site, Search Queries and Sitelinks pages in Webmaster Tools.

Conversion Goals

Once you’ve set up Universal Analytics and Webmaster Tools, it’s time to create Conversion Goals for your site. These are part of Google Analytics itself, but they’re not set up “out of the box.”

Goals help you determine whether people are taking the actions you want them to. Since every site is different, goals should be customized.

However, apartment companies generally have two primary objectives that should be tracked:

  • Getting guest cards completed
  • Getting applications started

Other potential goals include:

  • Signing up for newsletters
  • Spending 5 minutes on the site
  • Watching a property video
  • Sharing a floor plan

There are a few ways to set up goals in Analytics, but the simplest is the Destination URL. Mike details how to do that HERE.

Get to the Numbers that Matter

It’s important to determine which metrics are the most important to your company. The metrics you focus on are dependent on what you want to know.

How are people finding us?
Use these metrics: Sessions, Sources, Keywords, Landing Pages

How are visitors using our site?
Use these metrics: Users, Devices, User Flow, Site Content

Are visitors taking the desired actions?
Use these metrics: Behavior Flow, Bounce Rate, Events, Goals

What marketing sources are working best?
Use these metrics: Sources, Campaigns, Conversion Goals

Set Annotations and Alerts

To track how well campaigns are performing, set annotations and alerts in Analytics.

Annotations let you leave shared or private notes directly on graphs. No more struggling to remember what caused that spike in traffic, even if it came from an offline campaign!

Annotations

Automated alerts are generated whenever Google detects a considerable change in your site’s traffic patterns, and custom alerts are triggered when traffic reaches a level that you specify. Google has a step-by-step guide for creating custom alerts HERE.

More Ways to Measure

Using Google’s URL Builder, you can create a link that leaves no doubt about the source, medium and content responsible for an ad’s success.

We also recommend using Bit.ly to shorten your custom URLs. To see how many clicks a link has gotten, just add a + sign at the end of the URL. Give it a try: bit.ly/mfileadatt+.

Use the Data to Identify Insights

Once you know who is driving traffic to your site and which marketing sources are converting to leads, you can double down on the best sources, and start eliminating the campaigns, emails, property banners and print ads that aren’t getting results.

Analytics can even be used to track Craigslist leads, despite the changes to posts that prevent direct links into your site. One easy way around this is using trackable vanity domains that link back to your main site.

Google Analytics is an incredibly useful tool, especially when you take the time to set it up properly and understand what the numbers mean for your business.

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