Ever wonder where your fans live? Want to know which social media sites send the most people to your website? Would you like to be able to see all the articles and posts online that link back to your band website? What about tracking your marketing successes and failures over time in order to continually up-your-game?
Google Analytics is an amazingly powerful free tool for monitoring your website traffic and it only takes a few minutes to set up.* The tricky part about using Google Analytics is knowing what metrics are important and using that data to make better decisions about your music career.
While there are literally volumes written on how to use Google Analytics to your advantage, it’s also possible to jump in without much prior knowledge and start making some productive data-based decisions.
I’ll walk you through some simple metrics and techniques that I think are particularly helpful for musician websites.
1. Compare traffic over time
When you log into Analytics, you’ll see a graph showing all the traffic to your website. By using the date selector (upper right) you can look at any date range you wish. You can look at just a few days, a few weeks, or a year or more. (Note: If you’ve just set up your Analytics account, you may not have much historical data to look at.)
An important tool in looking at traffic over time is the “compare” feature. This will allow you to compare one period of time to another. To access this feature simply check the box next to “compare” when you are setting a date range. You will then be given the option of selecting a prior period of time to compare your data to.
The compare feature is an important tool to determine weather your site is getting more or less traffic this month compared to a previous month (or the same month during a previous year).
Pay attention to trends. Why was February such a big month and January so small? Did you play a number of concerts one month and not the other? Did you get some media attention? What will you do next year to grow your traffic even more?
Look for spikes in traffic, too. What happened on that particular day or week that brought so many people to your site? Can you repeat it?
(To dive deeper into where the traffic you received came from, click Referrals in the left hand bar of Analytics.)
2. Use annotations
An important and underutilized feature in Google Analytics is the ability to add notes to dates on your timeline. You can notate concert dates, promotion dates, album release dates, radio appearances, and more. Then when you go back to look at your traffic history, you’ll be able to see what events caused changes in your traffic.
You can access annotations from any Analytics page that shows the timeline graph (such as your homepage). As you can see in the picture to the left, there is a small tab that you can use to access annotations. If you click this tab, you will be able to see all previous annotations associated with your current timeline, and a link will appear (on the right) that will allow you to add an annotation to any date on your timeline.
3. Track the locations of your fans
Do you know where your fans live? Google Analytics geographic tracking is great way to see where in the world people are accessing your website. This data can be vital when planning a tour. Go where your fans are! You can access this data in Google Analytics from: Audience > Geo > Location.
This data can also be very helpful during a tour. Most likely you will see a pattern of fans accessing your website just before and after you play a concert. You can use this data to test promotion techniques. Try using different incentives to get fans to visit your website and measure the results.
4. Measure social media traffic
Which social network is sending the most traffic to your site? It might not be the site you expect. Your highest referring social network might even be a website you don’t have a presence on. Use the social media data in Analytics to identify networks that need more attention, and campaigns that have succeeded or failed.
To access your Social Media traffic reports go to Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals to monitor the traffic from various social networks.
5. Explore referrals for outreach opportunities
What websites are sending you traffic? Chances are there’s a few public articles about your music you’ve never even read. By going to Acquisition > All Referrals you can see a list of all the websites sending you traffic.
You can click on any of the websites in your list to see the full URL of the referral. This is a great opportunity to find fans and journalists to reach out to. Be sure to visit and explore the websites that are referring you traffic. If a website is referring traffic to your site, they can most likely be counted as an ally.
6. Set up Google Web Master Tools
An additional tool that works in concert with Google Analytics is Google Web Master Tools. One of the most important features in Google Web Master Tools is the ability to see the search terms that are triggering the appearance of your website in search results (Search Traffic > Search Queries). You can sign up to Google Web Master tools for free here. Be sure to use the same Gmail address you use for Google Analytics to sign up for Web Master Tools. This will make verifying Google Web Master tools much easier.
Once you have signed up and verified your Google Webmaster Tools account, you can connect your Web Master account to Analytics. Within Google Analytics, click Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization > Queries.
HostBaby Site Builder users: If you are unable to verify your site through Analytics, you can paste the verification snippet in the <head> box on your Settings page
Do you have any Google Analytics tips or tricks for musicians? Let us know in the comments below!