In this article, we break down some of the tools available to you through the Google Analytics platform. Before you can utilize these tools, you must integrate Analytics with your Engage community.
Once you have integrated your platforms, login to Google Analytics at google.com/analytics. On the left hand side, you will see a menu of tools. Google Analytics is an incredibly robust tool, but today we want to focus on the basics! We will review the basics of how to navigate Audience, Acquisition, and Behavior, and Real Time sections.
Understanding Audience Behaviors
Click Audience and then click Overview. In the top right hand corner, change the date, if desired. There are a few pieces of data you might be interested to know about in this section!
- Users: Identifies the number of users who have visited your site in that time frame.
- New Users: Identifies how many of those users were first time visitors.
- Sessions: Your total sessions reflect the number of times users have come to your platform. Google Analytics defines a session as a 30 minute period, so keep in mind that if a student walks away from their device and comes back to reengage an hour later, this will count as two sessions.
- Number of Sessions per User: Shows you the average number of sessions each user has had.
- Pageviews: The total number of pages viewed.
- Pages/Session: The average number of pages a user will visit within one session.
- Average Session Duration: The average amount of time a user spends in your community within one session. This can help you see if users are exiting out quickly or spending more consistent time once logged in and active.
- Bounce Rate: A bounced session has a duration of 0 seconds, reflecting when a user lands on a page and immediately closes out. Keep in mind this number may seem higher than normal because Engage communities are public, and it is very likely that users unrelated to your institution may be stumbling upon your page via public searches and then quickly closing the session.
- The graph on the right hand side will show you the number of new vs. returning visitors to your site.
You may also be interested in the information at the bottom of the overview, including where your users are accessing the site from (Language, Country, and City), the systems and browsers they are using, and your most common operating systems.
Acquisition gives you information about the channels users use to end up in your Engage community. Click on the Acquisition tab and then click Overview. You can change the date range again, if desired. The graph you see shows you how users end up in your community. Referral means a user was on a different page that somehow linked them to your Engage site. For example, they may have been logged into their Learning Management System but followed a link to an announcement in Engage. Organic Search means they ended up in your community by clicking on a link through Google, Yahoo, or any other search engine. Direct means they navigated directly to your site, through a link or a bookmark. Social means they were directed to your site through a traditional social media platform.
Scroll down to see the pages most often frequented by your visitors. Note that the "Page" assumes your homepage url; therefore, the simple "/" indicates your homepage, while "/events" would assume your url with that ending attached (i.e. hometown.campuslabs.com/engage/events). For each page, you can see the total number of pageviews and that page's percentage of total views.
If you are interested in learning more about behaviors on a certain page, click the name of that page. For example, you may be interested to know how long users are likely to spend navigating your full list of organizations or events before moving to a different page. Note the following metrics:
- Average time on page: This metric shows you how long a user spends on this page, on average, before navigating elsewhere.
- Entrances: This metric is the number of times a user entered your site through this page. If you link to your full listing of events or organizations on other campus websites, this metric may help you see how useful your webpage referrals are for sending users directly to a particular page.
- % Exit: This metric lets you know how often users close or exit out of your community directly from this page. It might be that the page is confusing to users and leads them to exit the task. Or, perhaps users have completed the task they came to do, like voting in an election, and see no need to stay active. If the exit rate for a particular page is extremely high, you might want to consider how you can use that page to keep users engaged or encourage them to visit a different part of your site!
Finally, you can view the behaviors of your users in real time, as opposed to over a designated time frame. Select Real Time from the menu and then select Overview. You will immediately be shown the number of users actively using your site at that moment, followed by a breakdown of how your site is being accessed (desktop or mobile).
Select Traffic Sources to see how the users currently on your site ended up there! This allows you to see in real time how users are being directed to your community.
Finally, click Content. This tool shows you the pages your active users are currently visiting. This tool can be helpful in showing you in real time the traffic on a particular form, election, or any other page in the community.
We hope this walkthrough has been helpful in introducing you to Google Analytics! For more information, feel free to visit the Google Analytics Help Center.