November 27, 2015

Which Digital Marketing Channels Worked For Your Business in 2015?

2015 is quickly coming to a close, and you are probably starting to develop your 2016 digital marketing plan.  Now is the time to look back at what marketing channels drove consumers to your website so you can determine which channels to include in the future.  In this article, we will review a new client’s Google Analytics and provide a high level diagnosis of what marketing channels worked in 2015 and which ones didn’t.  We hope this helps you bridge the gap towards more successful campaigns. 

Taking a historical look at Google Analytics data is critically important to your internet marketing strategy because you don’t want to spend money on future marketing tactics that didn’t work in the past.  Not only can you get a quick snapshot of what channels produced the most traffic, but you can review which digital marketing channels produced the best results. 

First, you need to log into your Google Analytics account.  Once there, you need to set up the date range to match the 2015 calendar year.  You can do this in the right hand corner at the top of Google Analytics.  In the below image you can see that we changed the date range from a one month snapshot to reflect Jan 1, 2015 – Nov 23 2015.

Google Analytics Date Range

Once you change the date, you will want to use the left hand column to navigate down to the Acquisition marker.  This is where we will spend the rest of our time diagnosing analytics. 

Digital Marketing Acquisition View

You can use the overview section to see which channels drove the most sessions to the website.  What is a session?  A session is a visit to a website, and one person can have multiple sessions. You can also look at the bounce rate per digital marketing channel.  The bounce rate is the percentage of individuals who only view one page and leave the website.  The smaller the percentage of bounce rate the better.  A good website strategy should include tactics to get many individuals to view more than one page.

From the overview section you can scroll down to the acquisition graph below.

Digital Marketing Channels in Google Analytics

The acquisition graph shows the amount of sessions and bounce rate per direct channel, paid search, organic search, social media platform and referral sources.  Quickly you can see our client had more direct sessions than any other source in 2015.  If you look at the bounce rate, you can see the organic search had the better bounce rate overall.  We’ll talk more about the session vs. bounce rate as a digital marketing strategy later in the post.

The great thing about this section is the ability to drill into each view to grasp more data per channel.  Drilling into each section you can understand the following:

  • Direct Acquisition – A view of your top web pages that consumers visited from a direct source.  This direct source could be someone directly typing in your URL from a browser or clicking on a link from a pdf, a marketing campaign or some other source.
  • Paid Search – The amount of sessions your website received through a paid online ad.  This view doesn’t give much detail, but it’s good to compare with the rest of your digital marketing channels.
  • Organic Search – This view provides the organic visits to your website.  Diving deeper into this section allows you to view the top keywords used to find your website.  Let me repeat myself, you actually get to see what keywords people are typing into Google to find you!! Over a year period, this section becomes invaluable.  Check out some of our latest articles titled “Know Your Keywords” to understand how to use this section in your holistic marketing approach.   
  • Social Channels – The social view lets you dive into which social media platforms drove the most sessions to your website.  It’s a good practice to spend time in this area to compare each social channel’s session, new users and bounce rate.
  • Referral Sources – The referral view allows you to see what websites are placing links back to your website and how many sessions came from those links.

Drill Down Example

Let’s drill down into the social media view to give an example of what you can expect on your own.

Social Media Channels In Google Analytics

This client uses Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ to drive individuals to their website.  To be honest, they really only use Facebook.  You can see that 99% of their traffic comes from Facebook.  This might be a strategy due to the results they tracked in the past or found more of their target market using Facebook. 

However, if you look at their bounce rate, you can see LinkedIn and YouTube users found more value on the client’s website.  LinkedIn and YouTube users, on average, went to more pages than Facebook users.  If you take it a step further, you can see the average session duration of LinkedIn and YouTube users are almost double or triple than Facebook.  This makes us think that our new client might want to explore other social media platforms while continuing their Facebook marketing strategy in 2016. 

Our Analysis of What Worked & What Didn’t

From a branding standpoint, the overview section shows that direct and paid search brought in more sessions than any other digital marketing channel.  Their bounce rate isn’t the best though.  If they only want exposure, then these channels did their job. 

If they are interested in more than just branding, then organic search and social media might bring in more qualified users based on their respected bounce rates.  The bounce rate for the organic search reflects 59.11%, which is the lowest of all bounce rates in the overview section.  Drilling into the social media view, it showed us that LinkedIn had a 43.48% bounce rate and YouTube had a 25% bounce rate.

After this quick diagnosis, we would recommend the client spend their 2016 marketing dollars on search engine optimization, content marketing and advertising on YouTube, and content marketing on LinkedIn.  Of course we could look at their paid search to see why the bounce rate is so high and test things out to correct their problems.  The ideal marketing channel should bring in the most possible sessions with the lowest possible bounce rate.

We hope this helps you kick start your digital marketing strategy for 2016.  Using Google Analytics to see which digital marketing channels are performing and which ones aren’t is a smart marketing practice.  Once you start to look at it on a yearly basis, you will probably become as addicted as we are to analytics and you will start to look at it on a monthly, weekly, and eventually daily basis.

Do you know someone who is preparing their digital marketing strategy for 2016?  Send them this article or share it to your favorite social media platform.  Happy diagnosing for 2016!


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