Use Google Analytics to Develop Social Media Strategy

by Jacob Varghese April 6th, 2011 

Plug Social Media into Analytics

Looking to phase a social media campaign into your marketing mix or trying to scale up your existing campaign?

If your site has been around for a while, chances are that you are already keeping an eye on data coming in from Google Analytics. This historical data can help lay down basic targets for your future campaigns that include social media efforts.

Here are a few steps that offer a brief outline of one such approach.

1. Deciding on Key Metrics: Find a period in time when your site generated higher revenue or showed significant achievement of other ‘goals’ (I hope you have been tracking these in Google Analytics). This will be the base period that we will use. Now decide on significant metrics that hold relevant correlation to ideal targets.

E.g.: In one campaign I chose ‘Number of Visits’ and ‘Revenue’. We decided to find out how many visits were required to reach specific daily revenue benchmarks.
The site in question, did not have a social media campaign in place and previously used paid (Google ads) and non-paid search (outsourced SEO) to generate traffic.

So in this case we were trying to find out approximately how many visitors should result from a social media campaign, in order to achieve and exceed acceptable daily revenue targets.

2. Setting Benchmarks Using Custom Reports: In order to ascertain your benchmarks, it is useful to overlay chosen metric graphs.

Depending on the metrics you have chosen in step 1, you may be able to use the ‘Compare two metrics’ option in Analytics.

Campare Metrics In Google Analytics

Compare Metrics In Google Analytics

As you can see above, in my case, I could not overlay Visits against Revenue so I had to create a custom report. These are very easy to set up.  If you need help, refer to this article on custom reports by Bethany Bey.

I added some ‘dimensions’ like source, keyword, product etc. that I could use for broader purposes (which I skip now for the sake of brevity).

Custom Report - Visits and Revenue

Custom Report - Visits and Revenue

When I had the two graphs neatly overlaid, the client decided on minimal acceptable daily revenue (104.99$) that occurred in the base period. This would be our lower and minimum acceptable revenue benchmark.

The highest daily revenue (414.95$) during this period would be the higher end of our revenue benchmark. This is the number we would seek to achieve and exceed in future campaigns.

Using this segment from the base period, we looked at the maximum and minimum number of visitors during this time. We were able to deduce that the number of targeted visitors needed to achieve revenue benchmarks, would have to approximately be within 50 and 100 (numbers were rounded off).

Deriving Benchmarks for Site Visits and Revenue from Google Analytics

Deriving Benchmarks for Site Visits and Revenue


3. Deciding Strategic approach:
Now that we have the numbers we can decide what we want to focus our marketing strategy on.

Apart from increasing revenue, one of the things that this particular client wanted to do was to minimize the use of Google Ads, or phase it out completely. He felt that the minimum bid amounts were getting to be too high.

We looked at the report again to isolate  the paid ad contribution to our base period in terms of traffic. Using the same methodology from step 2, we derived our benchmarks. Tip: Advanced Segments options in your reports allow you to isolate paid and non-paid traffic.

Advanced Segments in Google Analytics Reports

Segregating Paid Traffic in Google Analytics Reports

We now knew how many approximate visitors we had to bring in via our social media efforts, in order to phase out Google Ads as well as to increase revenue. Using the information we formulated an 8-month strategy to achieve these goals. The following chart provides an overview:

Estimated Traffic Overview Timeline of Campaign

Overview Timeline - Estimated Traffic of Campaign

You could obviously use the same tactics to develop benchmarks needed to attain future targets. e.g.: to increase the revenue by two, multiply the benchmarks by the same amount.

The numbers will also indicate if your social media efforts are focused enough. E.g.: If your social media campaign regularly exceeds your benchmarks without resulting in increased revenue, your social media efforts are probably not attracting visitors who are interested enough in your products. You can fix this by revisiting your content marketing strategy and/or outreach programs.

Limitations and Progress Monitoring

One may encounter limitations with this approach when there are multiple product lines and broader sets of variable metrics across product lines. Even then, the custom reports feature can drill down to product-centric metrics to derive relevant benchmarks.

Google Analytics reports are also a great place to find keywords that visitors use and do not use to reach your site. These keywords could prove useful to your content marketing strategy mix.

Of course, you want to use Google Analytics to monitor your social media marketing efforts (thanks Paul Anthony) and progress as you continue building your online charisma.

Have you already been using your Google Analytics data to form strategies for social media efforts? Care to share your own tips? Will you find use for this approach in your own projects?

Jacob Varghese

I'm a Marketing Technologist based in Montreal, Canada. I enjoy helping my clients in Online Marketing, Design and Development at BrandByte Media Inc. and also occasionally blog about social media and other Binary Perspectives at Jacobv.com Hope to connect with you soon!

Binary Perspectives...and social media doses

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7 Responses to “Use Google Analytics to Develop Social Media Strategy”

  1. Jey Pandian says:

    Well written article Jacob, difficult part is setting up the revenue portion of the analytics before one can do this type of analysis.

  2. Hi Jey,
    You are right. If revenue is an important metric then the tips above work better for a site which has been generating revenue for a while. In the above example, the clients website was tracking revenue data since 2009. We simply used this data to implement a strategy for the future. One that involved social media components (which were previously missing).

    Thank you for reaching out. Hope we can keep in touch.

  3. [...] Using Google Analytics to Develop Social Media Strategy [...]

  4. Emily says:

    Thanks for this article Jacob. I think Google Analytics is such a useful tool to improve websites and social media tactics. I find it useful as it allows you to see what pages on your site are being visited – I then can find out what is popular and what isn't and can improve the pages that are weaker. I agree that it's perfect to implement future strategies.
    I try to use it weekly, at the end of the working week so that I can make a strategy for the following week, if anyone wants some more tips, there are some different ones at http://www.lucidica.com/blog/online-marketing/top-5-tips-for-a-small-business-using-google-analytics/

  5. Hi Emily,
    Thanks for the comment and the tips. Especially the social interaction analytics one.

  6. [...] Use Google Analytics to Develop Social Media Strategy [...]