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Google Analytics Is the Big Data Tool for Small Businesses

Big Data is very much mentioned in the news these days. In the Straits Times’ article Big Data Spells Big Opportunities and in TODAY’s article The Big Read: In the business of Big Data, Singapore has built a cutting edge, we see how much the government and the companies in Singapore are betting on Big Data for the future economy.

Most Big Data discussions concern enterprises that have all the resources to hire data scientists and  dealing with top big data analytics software vendors such as Alteryx, IBM, KNIME.com, Microsoft, Oracle, RapidMiner, SAP, SAS and Teradata. Taking on such Big Data project can cost millions of dollars and this is beyond what small businesses can afford.

However, many small businesses are not aware that there are several powerful tools provided by Big established companies that small businesses can use.  One such tool is Google Analytics, a free tool provided by Google that allows companies to intelligently  reap the benefits of the massive amounts of online and offline information to make wise, data-driven decisions to grow their businesses.

What’s the cost of Google Analytics?

It’s free. Yes, no kidding. Absolutely free. As long as you have a website, you can use Google Analytics to study your site visitors’ behaviour and learn how you can improve your website.

Just a few weeks ago, I was presenting to a client on using Google Adwords to promote their products online and how Google Analytics can provide them statistics of what their customers are searching for, where their customers are from, the devices they use, the pages they visit and revisit, etc. My client was so amazed at all the powerful and useful information available in Google Analytics and was shocked that it is a free tool that they have not known is available to them despite having a website for years!

You can read more on how to set up Google Analytics for your website. In this blog, I will highlight the key useful metrics that Google Analytics provides for you to understand your site visitors.

Google Analytics Reports

When you are logged into your Google Analytics dashboard, you will see on the left menu bar the types of reports available:

Essentially, Google Analytics provide 4 categories of reports :

  1. Audience
    • These reports provide information about your site visitors, their age and gender, their location, the type of devices they use, how interested they are in your website, how long they stay on your website and the pages they viewed and whether the site visitors return to your website.
  2. Acquisition
    • These sets of reports allow you to know what draws visitors to your website, whether it’s through social media, online advertising or via organic search. If you use Google Adwords and link it to your Google Analytics, you can even see the exact search queries visitors typed in before they see found your website. This enables you to know what interests your potential customers.
  3. Behaviour
    • The metrics in these reports will allow you to understand how well your website is engaging your site visitors. It provides you the landing pages where visitors first land on your website and the exit pages where they left. It provides details of number of page views, the average time spent on each page and the bounce rate , i.e. the percentage of people leaving the page in less than a second.
  4. Conversion
    • These reports aim to help you measure how successful your website is in getting visitors to make purchases. To make use of these reports, however, you need to define to which page on your website, e.g. Thank you page is to be tracked such that when people make a purchase and land on that page, Google Analytics know that is counted as a conversion.