Guide to Web Analytics | Relevant Data You Should Be Paying Attention To

July 29, 2021

In the world of digital marketing, data is the gravity that binds. Data informs our decisions and predicts our future activities; it also lets us know how our previous actions performed. Without this data, we are lost. With it? We’re just the same as the competition. It’s how we use that data that really determines how successful we’ll be in the future.

The problem is, there’s so much data out there. It can become very easy for a company to simply decide it’s not worth the hassle; alternatively, they can get so in the weeds that none of the numbers make sense. We’re here to help you cut through the clutter and get a handle on the most important data elements that can transform your business.

A Note on Google Analytics

The best-known Web analytics suite is Google Analytics, which is used by businesses around the world. All of the metrics we’ll discuss can be found in Google Analytics.

However, Google has just released Google Analytics 4, which has a completely different interface than its previous incarnation, which was known as Universal Analytics. It’s recommended that businesses run both Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics parallel so that marketers can stay on top of their data with no confusion. We’ll point to key differences between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics throughout, as well as mention any additional types of analytics that have been made available with the release of Google Analytics 4.

Marketing funnel

Top of the Funnel

The top of the sales funnel is where you’ll encounter most Web visitors for the first time. While everyone at the top of the funnel won’t make it through to the bottom, you can employ analytics to identify what’s happening with these new prospective customers and learn how you can better appeal to them.

Metrics at the top of the funnel are often referred to as vanity metrics. These might sound impressive, but until they’re tied with action further down the funnel, these numbers by themselves don’t mean much. However, they can clue marketers in as to what’s working in their marketing.


A user is a unique individual that happens upon your site. However, in both Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics, users are broken down further into new users and returning users. This is critical because these metrics are much less vanity-laden in this context.

For new users, you want to identify what brought them to your site. Take note of the referring links and promotions that saw these new users visit your site. Also examine how many new users you’re seeing, especially in comparison to prior periods.

Returning users have a lot deeper insights to be gleaned. Repeat visitors are always a good thing, but what’s making them come back? Why didn’t they convert the first time they visited? And what can you do to make sure they convert this time? In some cases, returning users are a normal part of the buying process, especially for larger purchases that require considerable research. Take that into account as you examine the actions of returning users on your site.


Each time a user visits your site, it counts as a session. Google Analytics considers activity on a site after 30 minutes of inactivity to be a separate session. Because of this and because users will visit a site multiple times, your number of sessions should always be higher than your number of users.

Sessions are important to track because they can help you to piece together a path to purchase. With careful data analysis, you can identify the triggers and decision points that lead them. Your findings here will inform your marketing activity as users descend further down the funnel.

Middle of the Funnel

If the top of the funnel is vanity metrics, the middle of the funnel can be considered behavior metrics. That’s because we’re now getting into tying data to the actions made by consumers. We’re no longer consumed entirely by the number of users on your site. Now, we’re trying to see what those individuals actually do in response to what they find on your site.

Bounce Rate/Engagement Rate

Bounce rate is a well-known digital metric marketing, but its definition isn’t always very clear. Google defines bounce rate as the number of single-page sessions divided by all sessions. The idea is to quantify how many people leave your site right away without being converted. In theory, a high bounce rate means people aren’t finding what they’re looking for on your site and are seeking information elsewhere. However, bounce rate doesn’t always tell the full picture. If your site lends itself to single-page viewing — like your company blog, for instance — a high bounce rate might not be a bad thing at all.

In Google Analytics 4, Google replaced bounce rate with engagement rate. Engagement rate is the percentage of “engaged sessions” out of total sessions, where an engaged session is one that featured multiple page views, lasted ten or more seconds, or had a conversion event. This metric is more valuable than bounce rate because it shows how many sessions were productive and, by extension, how many site visitors expressed interest in your products or services.

Average Session Duration/Average Engagement Time

The average session duration is a measure that indicates how long people are spending on your site. It’s the total time of all sessions divided by the number of sessions. Average session duration has been replaced in Google Analytics 4 by average engagement time, which is a little more vague. Average engagement time measures the average length of time a particular app was in the foreground or the Web browser was actively displaying a site.

In either case, a higher number is generally better because it suggests that people are more eager to make a purchase from your company. As we saw with bounce rate, though, that’s not always the case. A high average session duration or average engagement time could be the result of people being frustrated because they can’t find what they’re looking for on your site. Therefore, it’s best to look at metrics like these in conjunction with other middle of the funnel statistics to get the full picture of how users are behaving on your site.

Pages Per Session

Theoretically, a user that looks at many pages within a session is an interested shopper. Pages per session attempts to measure that level of user engagement. This is a helpful metric because it can be broken down by a variety of factors, particularly medium and source. This will help you to identify the places from which you’re getting the most engaged users so that you can add further resources to those channels.

In Google Analytics 4, pages per session isn’t a trackable field. However, you can build it as a custom field by tracking the number of multiple page sessions within one day. Use this metric alongside your other behavior-based metrics to get a better idea of what’s happening with your potential customers.

Bottom of the Funnel

At the bottom of the funnel, it’s all about conversion. Now that you’ve nurtured these leads all the way to the end, it’s time for these prospects to reach their goal. Whether it be a purchase or a trial sign-up, you need the metrics to indicate how successful you are at making these conversions happen.

Goals/Events and Conversions

The only way to know how well you’re converting leads is through tracking. Both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 help you to monitor your conversion success through its Conversions metric. You need only set the conversion event, and Google will take care of the rest. Keep in mind that a conversion doesn’t need to be a purchase. It can be an email sign up, a customer review, an app install or anything you’d like.

Goals (Universal Analytics) and Events (Google Analytics 4) can help you keep track of milestones along the way. In Universal Analytics, using Goals requires you to add tags in Google Tag Manager. In Google Analytics 4, the tracking of events like scrolls, video engagement and downloads are fully automatic through the Enhanced Measurement option.

Conversion Metrics

Conversions don’t simply end with the action of the consumer at the bottom of the funnel. Both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 feature comprehensive reporting, giving you deeper insights into the customer journey, from email marketing analytics to the true impact of your social media marketing and everything in between.

Metrics such as cart-to-view rate, add-to-carts and page value give you an idea of how your conversion goals look in the big picture of your marketing strategy. There are many more metrics as well. Take a peek into the Conversion reporting options available and find the numbers that resonate most to your marketing tactics. This will give you some predictive marketing analytics to go alongside the other metrics you’ve been tracking.

With so many figures at your disposal, it’s easy to get intimidated by the figures provided by tools like Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics. Stick with these basic metrics in the early going until you get comfortable with the layout and your analysis methodologies, and add more statistics as you see fit. If you’d like more information about how Web analytics can help your business, contact us at Commit Agency today.