Does Your Author Site Convert? —and other questions your website data can answer

By Monique Sherrett

Having an author website is one component of your overall marketing mix. In addition to social media, email newsletters, online ads and contests, your website is used to build your author platform and boost sales. But is it working? If your site has Google Analytics installed and you are tracking sales and other non-revenue goals, like newsletter signups, then there are a lot of answers in that data.

Here are some of the questions your website data can answer:

  1. Where do my best website visitors come from? Is it referrals from other sites, my social media followers or email subscribers?
  2. Do visitors to my website read my blog, look at my resources page or view a sample chapter?
  3. When I send people via a Buy the Book to my publisher’s website or to Kobo, do they purchase my book?

The Basics

First, make sure Google Analytics is installed and, if applicable, add ecommerce tracking. If you’re using WordPress, try the free Google Analytics by Yoast plugin, and check the box for “Track outbound clicks & downloads.” For WordPress/WooCommerce, the Yoast Google Analytics eCommerce Tracking plugin is an easy way to track revenue, transactions, average order value and ecommerce conversion rate. The cost is $49 for a single site.

Next, ensure you have set up goals under the Admin tab in Google Analytics.

Now, with goals and ecommerce tracking, the standard reports under the Reporting tab can better answer if your site is actually converting visitors.

Digging into the Data

Google Analytics organizes each report into metrics related to Acquisition, Behaviour and Conversions.

  • Acquisitions: How you acquire visitors to your site, i.e., what search, social media, email, or other campaigns bring people to your website.
  • Behaviour: What do visitors do once they arrive on your website, i.e., what pages do they look at, how long do they stay.
  • Conversions: Do they convert, i.e., do visitors take you up on a call to action like “Sign up for my newsletter” or “Buy Now.”

These reports can be used to answer questions related to your website’s ability to convert visitors into browsers and browsers into shoppers.

  1. Where do my best website visitors come from? Is it referrals from other sites, my social media followers or email subscribers?

How you define “best” is unique to each author website. But the common conversions authors track are:

  • Transactions
  • Email Signups
  • Downloads

The best visitors are certainly the ones who buy but there is value beyond the sale. For example, people who purchase often recommend books to others. If they post reviews on blogs, social media, or other sites, the links that refer visitors to your site are tracked in Google Analytics. That data will also show if those visitors were engaged with the content and interested enough that they signed up for the email newsletter or purchased a book or took some other action like following you on social media.

To find your best website visitors use the report Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium

1-sources

 

Use this report to see the volume of traffic that comes from each source but, more important, who sends traffic that converts.

Tip: This report can be used to compare the quality of visitors from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Remember to look at the time on site, bounce rate and conversion rate, not just the number of sessions.

  1. Do visitors to my website read my blog, look at my resources page or view a sample chapter?

The report Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages is a good way to see not just the webpages that get the most visits but the pages with the most value.

stats2

Some pages may get more views, but the Average Time on Page indicates if visitors are engaging with the content and the Page Value indicates the measure of influence the page had on a sale or goal conversion. Pages with a high Page Value are more influential.

Tip: If your website is structured in a way that all blog posts, for example, fall under /blog/, then you can filter the results and compare only blog pages.

  1. When I send people to my publisher’s website or to Kobo via a Buy the Book link, do they buy my book?

For author sites without ecommerce, it is difficult to know if your website promotions are helping boost sales. For this, you can use Google Tag Manager (or the Google Analytics by Yoast plugin for WordPress) to also track outbound clicks. Outbound clicks are link clicks to webpages not on your site, for example links to Buy the Book on Kobo. Outbound clicks data appears under Behaviour > Events and although Google Analytics can’t report if a final sale was made on another site, at least you can see how many of your website visits end with a person clicking to buy. Retailer affiliate and author programs can fill in the gap on the sales that happen post click.

Tip: Set up Events as a Goal under the Admin tab so that outbound clicks to buy the book are displayed in the conversion data of your standard reports.

Find outbound clicks under Behaviour > Events

stats3

And, of course, if you are selling directly from your website then all your website’s ecommerce data is available under Conversions > E-commerce.

Does YOUR author site convert? Find out.

Navigating the standard reports can be cumbersome so try this custom report that pulls the top metrics into a single dashboard. Tip: Each widget links to the full report.

  1. Log into your Google Analytics account.
  2. Click on the below URL and choose a view from your Google Analytics account to import this configuration.
  3. View the Custom Dashboard in Analytics. Each blue heading is a clickable link to the full report discussed above.
  4. Click here to get the dashboard

moniqueMonique Sherrett has a passion for all things digital, in particular using analytics to measure and improve marketing campaigns. She began her career as the internet marketing manager at Raincoast Books, where she spearheaded the online marketing for Harry Potter and launched Raincoast’s podcast series and blog in 2005. She founded Boxcar Marketing in 2007 to help publishers make data-driven marketing decisions. Her daily 1-minute marketing tips can be found here and her advice on Google Analytics is available here.

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