10 Key Conversion Metrics You Should be Tracking in Google Analytics

As a school marketer, you need to be analyzing conversion metrics in order to demonstrate how well your marketing and advertising campaigns are working. Once you have the data, you can use those metrics to make adjustments going forward.

Too often, marketers are focused on their advertising conversion rates. Advertising conversion rates are important, of course, but they are only a piece of the overall web analytics picture.

What is a Conversion Metric?

Conversion metrics are some of the most important marketing metrics. They measure the number of times people take a specific action on your website. Common conversions include:

  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Submitting an inquiry form
  • Registering for an account
  • Downloading a .pdf or ebook
  • Staying on a site for a certain amount of time
  • Number of pages a visitor visits
  • Time spent watching videos
  • Clicking on a social media button
  • Widget usage
  • Buying merchandise
  • Any element a visitor can interact with

Basically, a conversion is any measurable action that helps a potential parent move toward enrolling their child in your school.

Conversion metrics in Google Analytics (GA) are a count of your goal completions. Therefore, you need to set up Goals in GA. Here’s an Easy, Step-By-Step Guide to Setting Up Google Analytics Goals for Schools

How to Calculate Conversion Rate

A conversion rate is a helpful metric to use for comparison purposes. Calculating a conversion rate is easy. All you do is divide the number of conversions you receive in a specific time frame by the total number of people who visited your site during the same time frame. So if you had 2,500 conversions and 5,000 people visited your site in a specific month, your conversion rate would be 50 percent.

One thing to keep in mind is you can be as specific or broad as you want when setting up your conversion criteria. For an example of a specific conversion rate, you can track conversion rates based on the number of people who visited your site who were acquired from a Facebook Ad.

Here are a few types of conversion rates you can use to determine the effectiveness of your campaigns.

  • Marketing channel conversion rate – how well are visitors converting that came from specific channels? i.e. Facebook, Facebook Ad, Google, Google Ad, Instagram, YouTube, etc.
  • Campaign conversion rate – did the changes I make to specific campaigns result in a higher (or lower) conversion rate?
  • Page-level conversion rate – how well are specific landing pages or pages on my website converting?
  • Individual ad conversion rate – how well are individual ads converting? Do I need to make changes to my ad copy? Creative? Targeting? Etc.
  • Keyword conversion rate – which keywords are converting better? 

There are many other conversion rate types you can use to evaluate the performance of almost any aspect of your online marketing. So often we tend to focus on click-through rate, which is fine. But if your clicks don’t result in someone taking an action you would like them to take, you need to work on making improvements.

Getting Meaningful Data

One thing to keep in mind when analyzing conversion data is the quality of your data. For example, I’ve seen landing pages with 100 percent conversion rates, but they only had one visitor. You need more than one person for a statistically valid conversion rate, and you need to look at a sufficiently long timeframe.

There isn’t a specific timeframe for every conversion metric. Many school marketers like to use a month as a timeframe, but if you are a large organization and receive a lot of visitors in a day, you might be able to gather meaningful data in a shorter timeframe, like maybe a week.

Here are 10 conversion metrics school marketers should be tracking in Google Analytics.

  1. Website sessions

The total number of your website visits is an important metric to track. It’s so important that Google provides a graph at the top of the main page in Google Analytics. This will help you easily and quickly identify any trends that might have occurred during your timeframe. Ideally, you want this graph to show a steady increase in website sessions over time.

The number of website sessions is used to help you calculate the number of visitors who convert (based on your criteria). You can also track the number of sessions from each referral source, which is very helpful. 

  1. Users 

The number of users differs from website sessions in that it tracks the number of people who visit your site, not total visits. Often, people will visit your site a repeated number of times during your timeframe. Users counts these as individual people, not how many times they visited. This is critical because it gives you an indication of how many people are visiting your site multiple times, and you can also see how many new users visited your site. 

  1. Pageviews 

Pageviews is a helpful metric because it shows how many pages an individual visited during their website session. A high pageview metric indicates the relevancy and quality of your site content. They can also show the type of content your visitors are interested in, how well they’re optimized for search and the user behavior trends. 

  1. Mobile Friendliness 

As mobile usage continues to skyrocket, marketers need to track the number of people visiting your site from mobile devices. If most of your visitors are using a mobile device, you will want to make sure your site loads fast and is easy for people to view and use on their device. A site that isn’t mobile friendly will often have a high bounce rate. 

  1. Bounce rate

Monitoring your bounce rate can give you important information about your website. You should track bounce rate for your site overall as well as drill down on individual pages. Changes in your bounce rate can help you identify issues like speed, performance, mobile usability, device optimization, content on your landing pages and more.

To find your bounce rate, click on Audience in the left menu. Then click on Behavior. Make sure your Date Range is set (upper right) and then you will see the Bounce Rate for your overall site near the top of the page. To drill down to individual pages, click on Site Content and then Content Drilldown. From here you can see the Bounce Rate of individual pages. Use the arrows in the lower right of the page to continue to scroll through your site content.

Bounce rate is a critical metric because you can drive lots of traffic to your website, but if people are bouncing right off, something isn’t right with your landing page.

Also, bounce rate impacts your search engine ranking. Google will rank sites higher that have a lower bounce rate and higher time on page. Google considers these metrics to indicate your content is high-quality, and therefore, will rank higher in organic search.

  1. Traffic sources

Traffic sources tell you where your traffic is coming from. You can view your traffic sources by clicking on Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels.

Google Analytics breaks traffic sources down into several broad categories.

  • Direct – a direct traffic source is when someone types your URL into their browser or has your site bookmarked. Also, if Google can’t identify where your traffic comes from, it might put it into the Direct traffic category. Examples include:
    • Traffic from offline documents, such as .PDFs, Word, etc.
    • Traffic from mobile social media apps
    • In addition, “false” traffic allocation may occur from email marketing and organic search due to browser issues. To minimize false direct traffic allocation, tag your campaigns with custom campaign variables (UTM).
  • Social – social is when someone clicks on a link from a social media platform associated to your website. The link can be from your profile or a post.
  • Referral – referral is when someone clicks on a link to your site from another website or directory
  • Organic search – when someone clicks on a link from a search engine results page
  • Paid search – when someone clicks on a link from a paid search ad (Google Ads, Bing Ads or other search network advertising)
  • Other – the other category reports on traffic coming from any other source not listed above

Traffic source data is imperative for understanding which of your marketing channels are performing well and which ones need improvement. For example, if you have a channel that is driving a high percentage of your traffic, you may want to invest more in that channel. Conversely, if you have a channel that isn’t performing well, you can decide whether to place more focus on improving your campaigns or keep your focus on the ones doing well.

  1. Page load speed

The speed at which your webpages load is a critical metric. People expect your site to load quickly; if it doesn’t, they are likely to click away.

Some SEO experts say your page should load within 3 seconds, others 2 seconds. In general, the faster your pages load, the better. Check the speed of your site here: Google PageSpeed Insights.

  1. Average time on site

The longer a visitor stays on your site, the higher the chance they will convert. Average time on site refers to how long a visitor stayed on your site, also called “average session duration”.

To calculate, divide the total time (duration) of all sessions during your timeframe by the total number of sessions. So if you had a total of 10,000 minutes duration of all sessions in a month and divided that by the total number of sessions, which was 1,000, your Average Time On Site would be 10 minutes, meaning people spent an average of 10 minutes on your site during each website session.

  1. Interactions per visit

Interactions per visit is a helpful metric because it shows you what actions your visitors are taking on your site. For example, even if a visitor didn’t sign up for your newsletter, but they commented on a blog post, you know they are interested in the topic they commented on. This can help you understand your visitor better and their path to enrollment. Keep in mind the more insights you collect, the easier it is to pinpoint ways to improve conversion rates.

Interactions are called Events in Google Analytics. To view your events, go to Behavior > Events.

  1. Exit pages

Exit pages help you understand which pages people are exiting from. If people are leaving a certain page before they get to your inquiry page, you’re losing out on potential new families. To solve this issue, determine where people are exiting from on your site and see if you can spot the reasons you may have pages with high exit rates.

To view your Exit Page metrics, go to Behavior > Site Content > Exit Pages.

It’s easy to confuse Bounce and Exit Pages. A bounce is when someone lands on a page and then “bounces” off from that same page to somewhere else on the internet (not another page on your site). An Exit is when someone clicks on more than one page on your site and then exits somewhere, usually not the same page they landed on.

Regardless of the type of campaign you’re running, understanding your school’s site conversion metrics is critical. Tracking and analyzing your conversion metrics will help you monitor, refine and improve your campaigns to receive the best possible outcomes.

What conversion metrics do you track for your school marketing? Are there any that should be added to this list? Please comment below…

About the author 

Brendan Schneider

Hey, I’m Brendan, and this is my blog. After 28 years working in private, independent schools in mostly admissions, enrollment, marketing, communications, and fundraising roles, I decided to make SchneiderB Media my full-time job, where I help schools get more inquiries through my Fractional Digital Marketer program. I also started the MarCom Society, a membership created expressly to help, support, and train marketing and communications professionals at schools.

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