Where do your customers come from?

We talk a lot in marketing about knowing your audience. Who are you talking to, and what do they care about? One way to do this quantitatively is to work backwards in your purchase path.

Depending on where your customers come from, they may have a different intent (for instance, to read something vs. to buy something) and may care about different things (such as technical specs vs. value propositions). Understanding the sources of your traffic, and which sources best convert, can help you put together a better marketing strategy. 

The best part? This is actually very easy to find out using Google Analytics.

Step One: What's driving the most traffic?

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To get to this handy-dandy graphic I made above, go to Acquisition-->All Traffic-->Channels in Google Analytics. There's a few other places you can find this information (and dive deeper into it) but this is a good starting point for a high level overview.

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Here is where you can see the various categories that make up your channel distribution. 

  • Search: Any search engine. You can dig deeper into the channel to determine whether or not Google is your most popular; it probably is.
  • Direct: Means that someone typed in your URL directly or used a bookmark.
  • Referral: Coming from another site, such as from a PR hit
  • Email: From one of your email marketing efforts
  • Other: Could mean a variety of things—you'll need to dig deeper into that section to understand
  • Social: Organic or paid social media goes here (Facebook, Twitter, etc). Some of the other "social" channels may surprise you, so dig into this to make sure you know exactly what's a referrer and what's social.

The best way to see your channels at a glance is to click on the pie chart icon in the top right.

Now, that's a much easier visual to understand what's driving the majority of your traffic.

Step Two: Which of those channels convert the most?

Now that you know which channels bring in the most traffic, you need to see which ones bring in the most revenue. For instance, while social media is great for brand-building, storytelling, and interacting with customers, it may not be the channel that's working the hardest for you.

Related: Funnels Take Time

To do this, you'll need to set up your goals in Google Analytics. That's far beyond the scope of this blog post, but it goes to show: Getting your analytics in order is key here.

Once you've set up your goals, you can work backwards to see which channels convert the most. On that pie chart, choose your appropriate goal from the dropdown. 

Now, you can see which channels are working the hardest, and from there, you can decide: Do you double down on your best channels, or work to bring the others up to par?

The other really handy way to work backwards is in the behavior flow section of Google Analytics. Go to Behavior-->Behavior Flow.

There, you'll see which specific pages on your website are bringing in the most customers—and where in the flow they're dropping off. This can give you some hints to where you need to optimize further. Think about your current flow. Are there points of friction? Why do some users drop off at that point?

Knowing which channels bring in the most traffic, where they're converting, and where the most users are dropping off in that pathway from traffic to conversion is essential to understanding your audience—and ensuring that you can convert as many as possible.