Key reports and metrics in Google Analytics for inbound marketing

Key reports and metrics in Google Analytics for inbound marketing

Google Analytics is a wonderful tool. But if you’re just getting started, or even if you’re a bit of seasoned Analytics bod like myself, it can all seem a bit overwhelming. There’s a lot of data, reports and metrics to take in, and sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start when your boss or your client asks “so how is the website doing?”, or more specifically “how is our inbound campaign doing?”

Being a GA whizz is all about cutting through all the noise and drilling into the metrics you need most. So here you are – the key metrics and reports you need to analyse your inbound marketing campaign.


The basics

When analysing and reporting on the success of an inbound campaign, I like to start with the Acquisition > Channels report. To find this, open up GA, go to the left sidebar, click to open “Acquisition”, then “All traffic”, then channels. This report gives you a handy breakdown of each channel traffic came through – i.e. direct (someone typing your URL directly into their address bar), referral (someone clicking a link from another site), social (traffic from social media), and perhaps most key to inbound, organic (non-paid traffic from search engines). If you’re running other campaigns like paid search or email, you might also see these as channels here. These are what are known as Default Channel Groupings. They are the channels that GA automatically groups your traffic into out-of-the-box. You can create your own custom channel groupings, but that’s one for another time.

Back to the Channels report. On that page you can see a graph, showing the amount of Sessions (Visits) your website received throughout your chosen period of time. Usually for me, that’s a month, so I’ve set the month of February as the date range.

If you scroll down to the bottom, you can then see a table breaking down the Sessions by channel – the channel groupings I mentioned above.

This to me looks like a healthy performance for a website focused on inbound – organic search drove the majority of the traffic at 47.80% (that’s what the brackets after the number of sessions means). I’ll now give you a very quick rundown of each of the other metrics you can see across the top of the table and what they can tell you about your inbound campaign.

% New Sessions – This means the percentage of visits to the site which were from brand new visitors who have never been before. You can see a summary for the site overall (72.69% in our example), and percentage for each channel. A high percentage of new sessions is good for an inbound campaign – it means new potential customers are finding your site.

New users – The exact number of users related to your percentage of new sessions – so in our example, 479 new sessions against 659 overall means 72.69%.

Bounce rate – Now we’re on to the “behaviour” metrics. Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors to your site that leave after only visiting one page. The lower this percentage, the better. You want people to stick around on your site and see what it’s about. Trying to keep this percentage low across the site is ideal, but it’s also useful to dig into bounce rate on a channel level. You might find that certain channels have lower bounce rates than others, suggesting they’re bringing the most relevant traffic. You also want to keep an eye on your organic search bounce rate. Keeping this number low can give you a boost in performance in the organic rankings – Google takes behaviour metrics such as bounce rate into account when deciding where to rank your site for a particular keyword.

Pages/session – pretty self explanatory. The number of pages – on average – a visitor viewed on your site. Usually the higher this is, the better. But a word of warning – beware of it going too high. This might suggest that a user is having to visit a number of pages on your site to find the information they need, which could suggest you need to rethink the flow or the messaging on key pages. Other reports like Behaviour Flow can help you dig into this further, but that’s one for another time.

Average session duration – the average amount of time that a session lasts on your site. Similar to pages per session, usually the higher the better, but beware of numbers creeping up and suggesting your users are having to work too hard to find the information they need.
Don’t forget as well – you can use this report to compare these metrics to last month’s, or last year’s, or any other time period you choose. This gives you the best indication of how a site is performing over time. This is particularly important when it comes to a tactic like inbound, as it’s very much a marathon rather than a sprint, and you’d expect to see more gradual results.



Conversions and goals

Note – to get access to this report you must have goal tracking set up on your site. You can read more about this here. I have also written a blog post recently taking you through the process of using Google Tag Manager to set up Goal Tracking.

Conversions are key to any inbound campaign. After all, that’s what you want visitors to do – convert. That’s why setting up goals and tracking your conversions in Analytics is so handy. Personally, I like to make sure I’m tracking “general” conversions (contact form submissions) as well as landing page conversions (for consideration content).

Using the goals report, you can see how many conversions there were, what the conversion rate was (visits compared to completions), as well as drill into which channel converts best. There’s a conversions section in the metrics table on the Channels report I mentioned in the last section, but getting into the goals report in detail can really help you understand what’s driving conversions and what isn’t.



This report is particularly handy when it comes to content planning. Digging into the specific pages which are getting the most visits, the best bounce rate and even converting the best can help you make an informed decision about which content to double down on and which to avoid.
You can find this report under Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages.

Just like with the Channel report, underneath the graph you get a table – but this time the dimension is “page” rather than “channel”.

Here we can see both the blog posts and the general pages on the site which are receiving the most visits, which have the best bounce rate and keep people on site for longest. You would obviously usually expect to see your homepage at the top of this one. If you sort by page views, and your blog posts all sit on /blog/ or /news/, it’s dead easy to drill down into which blog posts were the most successful. A point to note on bounce rate in this report – don’t be discouraged if it’s high for some posts – keep an eye on other metrics like time on page too. Sometimes, particularly if a user is coming in cold from social or organic search, it can take them a couple of visits to become a converting visitor. But that’s one for part 2 of this blog post!

That was a whistle-stop tour of some of the key things to look at in Google Analytics in order to report on your inbound marketing campaign. As I mentioned throughout the post, there are a number of things I didn’t dig into, so I’ll be uploading a part 2 with some more advanced reports and metrics soon. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, if you’d like to start seeing green arrows across the board on all of your Google Analytics reports each month, why not get in touch and see how we can help you.