AUTHOR’S POST-PUBLICATION NOTE: As of April 2022, I no longer support or recommend the use of Google Analytics and for details as to why that is, check out episode 53 “Why I Un-Installed Google Analytics (And Why You May Want To Follow My Lead”. For analytics software options I do recommend, there’s episode 54, “How To Ethically Track Your Visitors”.
This is a transcript from episode 10 of the OMGrowth podcast, published January 20, 2021
You know how many followers you have on social media. You know how many likes you get. You know how many comments and shares your posts get. But do you know what happens… after the click-through?
I mean, seriously, though. What is your social traffic looking for? What are they doing on your website? Are they signing up to your email list? Are they sticking around long enough to actually see what you’re about? How is an online entrepreneur supposed to know if their social media audience is picking up what they’re throwing down? For the love of Pete, will someone tell you WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE CLICK-THROUGH?
Of course someone will. And that someone is me!
Unless you’re an influencer, brand awareness doesn’t pay the bills. While attracting people to your business and building brand awareness around who you are and what your offers are is super-important, there is more to your marketing than just getting people through the door.
This is why it is mega-valuable for you to know what happens after the click-through. Because – yes! – your social media platforms will share analytics with you about what happens ON their platforms – and they’ll even comment on the people they were able to send to your website – but what they don’t tell you is how valuable their platforms are in leads and dollars… but I’m all-too-happy to fill in that gap!
THE NUMBERS TO FOCUS ON
If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I’m a huge fan of setting up 2 Goals in Google Analytics that will account for: 1) the sales you made and 2) the leads you generate.
But the reason that setting these two, simple goals up is SO valuable is that this accounts for basically 80% of anything you’re trying to do in your business: making sales and generating leads.
It’s great to see that more than 50% of your social traffic is coming from Pinterest, but does that traffic sign up to your list and do they buy your offers? Typically, you’ll see higher amounts of traffic coming from Pinterest than other social media sources, but they’re generally less engaged. It’s just the nature of how people navigate that platform.
Likewise, you may see your lowest amount of traffic comes from YouTube. However, it is commonplace to see that this traffic converts sales and leads at a significantly higher rate.
But please take special note of my use of words like “typically” and “generally” and “commonplace”: these are sweeping generalizations.
You want to see which social media platforms perform – literally, like in sales and leads – for YOU, your audience and your business.
And when you see how all the other metrics and dimensions relate those 2 Goals you set up, you can relate anything you want to that final outcome.
“Lanie, how do I know which landing page my Pinterest traffic is most likely to join my list from?” Check out your Goal #2 for Leads Generated.
“Lanie, how do I know what product my YouTube viewers are most interested in buying?” Check out your Goal #1 for Sales Made.
“Lanie, how do I know if the Lives I’m doing on Facebook or the Stories I’m posting to Instagram are actually generating sales and leads?” That’s take a quick look-see at how Goal #1 and #2 are performing in regards to those platforms.
The earlier you set those Goals up, the sooner you’ll be able to answer these types of questions around your social media marketing efforts.
While I preach hard about using Goals, there are some other built-in Google Analytics metrics that can be informative as to what happens after the click-through from social media.
For instance, Average Session Duration will show you how engaged those traffic sources are by showing how long people typically stay on your site and take in your content. Likewise, Bounce Rate will tell you what percentage of people are coming to your site and bouncing right away, and Pages Per Session will show you how much of your content those traffic sources are typically taking in.
You can – and should! – expect that the level of engagement will differ significantly based on the social media network they’re coming from.
You want to hone in on HOW specific segments of your traffic engaged with your site when they leave those networks, and then get clear on the trends and patterns you’re able to identify for each one of them.
Because when you identify how each segment of those visitors responds to your content, you’re then able craft custom marketing experiences for those people that best serves both your interests and theirs.
This is especially valuable to know when you’re looking at investing in ads on social platforms: how are people engaging ORGANICALLY with your website from these platforms? Just because you’re paying the platform doesn’t mean you can expect people’s behaviors to change; you should expect the same, only more of it.
THE TYPE OF SOCIAL TRAFFIC
Once you decide to get serious about understanding the data for your social media marketing performance, I can almost guarantee you’ll ask the question: “I can see the social media network falls under SOURCE, but what’s the deal all these different MEDIUM?”
Indeed, what IS the deal? Your SOURCE serves to identify where your traffic came from while your MEDIUM categorizes, well, the category that this traffic falls into.
So let’s use an example – you know your girl loves an example! – and let’s say you’re using Facebook to market your business. Popular choice, boss!
—> There are a bunch of ways which you can do this, right? You can run ads, you can post things to your page, you can have other people brag about how great you are in a Facebook Group… and all of these will be reported on in your analytics as being a different medium.
With most paid campaigns – Facebook and otherwise – your ads will typically be identified as “cpc” or “cpm”. If you guessed that “cpc” stands for Cost Per Click and “cpm” stands for Cost Per Mille, or per thousand impressions, you win free Facebook Ads for life! (Not really, though. If I could offer that, I think I’d be a lot more popular.)
But when you’re getting intentional about tracking your paid campaigns and you start using parameters to name your campaigns yourself, you’ll want to double-check on HOW your campaigns are automatically being named. You’ll likely want to stay consistent with what’s already being used and keep using this same naming convention, rather than adopt an entirely new one by calling your medium something like “ad” or “paid”.
But the TL;DR for this example is that when you see the Source / Medium identified as “facebook / cpc”, we’re talking about Facebook ads or the Facebook traffic that is paid for.
There are two other types of Medium you’ll usually see and these aren’t so clear-cut to differentiate: I’m talking about Social versus Referral.
We think of Social Media as Social, right? So what’s up with Referral?
—> Think of the links that get posted: when someone recommends your product, when you share a blog post to your Page, when you share your resource in a Facebook Group.
All of these links that get clicked-through on and bring people to your site are categorized as Referral traffic.
—> This is why you’ll often see that your Referral traffic typically sticks around longer than Social traffic, and Referral traffic will generally come in higher numbers than Social traffic as well.
Social traffic is simply traffic that came to your site from that social media network.
For instance, if someone says in a Facebook Group that they should check out Lanie Lamarre and the person types in lanielamarre.com from Facebook, that will ben clocked as Social; but if they click on a link for lanielamarre.com, then it will be tagged as Referral.
If you’re thinking there’s some grey area here, or you find that the reporting is more than just a little confusing on this, you’re totally right!
My hope is that the Google Analytics 4 update will have something special in store for us where social media reporting is concerned; but as it stands, when the Universal Analytics version of Google Analytics we’re currently using added Channel reports, they separated Social from non-Social traffic (or what we now identify as “Referral” traffic), and the rules and conventions weren’t always consistent, and there is some overlap and grey area.
The way to minimize a lot of this confusion, of course, is to start naming and tracking your own dang social media campaigns with UTM parameters but that’s a topic for another day because today, we’re looking at getting clearer about what happens after the click-through on social media.
COMBINING SOCIAL TRAFFIC SOURCE
Another thing you may notice are the many ways in which your same traffic sources are being identified. For instance, your Facebook traffic could be coming through as l.facebook.com , m.facebook.com, facebook.ca and straight-up facebook or maybe Facebook with a capital F, among a whole bunch of other combinations and subdomains.
If you’re thinking you would like all of that traffic identified as one single source, you’re a flipping genius because that’s 100% correct: you want all of the same traffic sources to be grouped together.
You can easily do that using Filters in your Google Analytics and while I won’t bore you to tears by describing all the buttons to click to make that happen, I’ll tell you that a quick-and-dirty video showing you exactly how to do this is included in the free Google Analytics Audit I mentioned earlier.
But if you’re thinking or questioning or concerned about over-writing valuable information that these unique domains are collecting, allow me to reassure you that there are other ways of bringing up that same information that is being coded into those URLs.
Because that m.facebook.com means your site was accessed through Facebook’s mobile site. You can always segment your results to see mobile results under Device Category and those results will actually be more accurate than relying on how the domain was coded. Likewise for locations, where you can segment traffic from Canada instead of hoping all Canadians are using the .ca URL.
All of these unique URLs used to identify the same source of social traffic are basically like a bunch of kids trying to tell you their version of what is essentially the same story; by combining and filtering them into one single representative title or identifier, it’s like assigning one kid to speak on behalf of the class.
Nothing is stopping you from single-ing out another kid who you think may have something special to add – there’s a dimension or metric you can use to help deepen any understanding you’re looking for – but grouping all of your same-network traffic under one name or title is way more effective to your understanding of what’s going on with that traffic source.
For as many social media platforms as you actively use, you’ll want them all to show up in the same way – so you can wash-rinse-repeat this cycle for pinterest and instagram and twitter and whatever else you use – and create a standard reporting style for each of the networks you’re marketing with.
Which brings us to our favorite part of every program: what are you supposed to do about all this? These are your ACTION ITEMS for the week, boss.
1) Make sure you are using analytics software to track your results.
2) SET GOALS.
Get those GOALS in place to track the sales you’re making and the leads you’re generating. It is infinitely easier for you to see how you’re performing when you’re able to take an isolated look at whatever question you have through the lens of either the sales you’re making or the leads you’re generating.
I agree that these two factors aren’t EVERYTHING in your business… but they’re, like, 80% of the reason why you do anything campaign-related and in my professional opinion, that makes these very important.
3) Filter your traffic sources.
By filtering your traffic source, you give your traffic trends and patterns the opportunity to POP… so you can use THAT information to pop off on your next social media campaign. (In case you needed another reason to sign up for the FREE Google Analytics Audit, I also walk you through this process.)
There’s so much more to social media marketing metrics than just followers and comments. The more you can do to help structure the stories your social media traffic is trying to tell you, the more you’re able to make better use of each network’s strengths like it’s your superpower.
Because that’s what data can do for you – it can be the tights and cape to your business – and although it will require a little bit of fitting into that leotard, the return on those small set-up investments are where those massive gains can – and should! – be made.