Here’s a quick quiz for brand marketers:

1. What is bounce rate and has it risen or decreased on your homepage over the past two years?

2. How does Google Analytics know when a visitor has exited a page?

3. What are the top referral sites to your homepage?

4. What pages are visitors viewing immediately after they visit your homepage?

5. What are the most visited pages on your website and what’s the dominant referral site to those pages?

All this can be found in a 10 minute browsing session in Google Analytics. Though that’s only if you know Google Analytics. A common default response from a brand marketer might be, “Well, we just ask the SEO agency we’re working with for that data.” And of course, that’s an acceptable routine, but are there any advantages for brand marketers that aren’t necessarily SEOs to knowing how to find this information and assess it yourself?

Quick note: having an SEO agency do deep analysis and reporting on your web traffic is indispensable if you’re serious about gathering data, developing strategies that work, and implementing them.  The questions and skills listed above are basics in the SEO industry and even more basic to check the data on them. This is all different than implementation and strategy, which is a different set of skills that SEOs will and should be better at than brand marketers.

Google Analytics is one of the easiest to use, most common, and least expensive (it’s free) tools for web analytics tracking.  It’s fairly easy to install and it’s quick to show you results and data that are valuable to brands. And what’s even more valuable is that Google offers a certification for using Google Analytics called the GAIQ test, so you can verify competency for yourself or agencies you’re working with.

The question for brand marketers is, at the end of the day, why should they care to know about Google Analytics and get certified?

You can learn more about your brand. It’s as easy as getting user access into the GA program on your website, which should already be there if you have an SEO already tracking it. And all the items on the quiz above could potentially be checking in less than 10 minutes if you know what you’re doing in Google Analytics.

It’s in the best interest of a brand to know what people are doing when they interact with your online presence. Are they clicking on your about page? Do they like to watch videos? What’s the most preferred way of contacting you? Does anyone read your blog? Did traffic increase to your site after that rebrand you did last year was implemented?

The online presence of your brand can and should be watched closely and having the brand marketers’ eyes on that data can be very valuable to growing your online presence.

You can learn more about your customers. A wealth of demographic data is readily available on GA. You can answer questions like where your primary audience lives, in rural areas or the city. Are customers visiting your site via mobile devices? Which kind of mobile device? If there’s a rise in mobile traffic over the past year, is your site ideally set to be browsed on a mobile device?

These questions are basic but very important and with a intermediate competency in GA, and brand marketers can dig deep and know what the customer is doing and has been doing over the past three years.

Like the item above, what people are doing around your brand. A vast amount of data is available with a click and with a few hours of study and a few weeks of experience with it, you’ll have that information close to you.

This isn’t a move to supersede or make your web analytics team obsolete, it’s a move to get your eyes on that data as it’s coming in and able to navigate it with a decent knowledge of what’s going on. Used properly, this can be a boon for your brand.

It creates trust between you, your clients, and other agencies because you have Google’s blessing.  Let’s face it. There aren’t many ways (compared to industries like medicine, law, and academia) to know if an SEO is competent outside of experience and case studies (which I admit aren’t bad). Digital marketing and more specifically SEO, has not caught on as a major field of study in most colleges across the country. So how can a client, yourself, or another agency know that you are competent with Google Analytics and at least knowledgable in the basics of SEO?

The GA certification is a step in that direction.

The most widely used search engine on the web has given you a blessing which says to others you are competent with this tool, and believe us when we say that competency with Google Analytics is a big step in gaining SEO knowledge, especially on the data/analysis side of it.

You can verify the data your SEO agency is giving you.  There’s potential to cause tension between the experts and non-experts (for lack of a better way of putting it) when the non-experts get into a field they’re largely unfamiliar with; something in the vein of “a little bit of learning is a dangerous thing.” 

With that in mind, don’t try to step on toes or do a job that isn’t yours as the brand marketer.

However, with that said, you can have knowledge enough about SEO and web analytics to keep your agency accountable. This can lead to better analysis and decisions on implementing strategies in the future. At its best, your knowledge of analytics can help you understand the terms and data points you see in reports, and to dig deeper from there if you so wish.

And let’s be honest, there are times when you’re listening to your SEO guy and he drops a term you’ve never heard and you don’t want to ask what it is out of time constraints or looking incompetent so you nod along. Well, those days can be over. At the very least getting GA certified brings a wealth of confidence when you have those hard conversations about data on your website and where to go from there. It becomes a conversation rather than a report, and your brand will only benefit when that’s the case.

With that said, if you’re ready to make the move to become Google Analytics certified, we provide a strategy with tips on how to pass GAIQ test on this blog.

If you are a brand, an ad agency, or a PR firm that needs help with deciphering Google Analytics or installing it across all your (or your clients’) web assets, give us a shout. We’d love to help.