Back in September, Google introduced GA Real Time, which has recently become available in beta for the majority of users.
Yesterday it became accessible to our Google Analytics account as well, and we decided to sort out what value internet marketers can derive from it.
Indeed, people are very excited about this feature. Watching the number of people on your site changing and the charts indicating page views per second (!) floating is overwhelming.
Yes, real-time analytics is captivating to watch. But it's not inherently helpful. Users need to understand how exactly their particular website can benefit from it.
In short, the new GA feature lets you see how your visitors interact with your site – live. You get the number of active visitors on your website, the keywords that brought them in, referrers, location by city, content they're accessing.
Here's a more detailed overview of what data you can get with Google Analytics Real-Time.
1. In the Overview tab, you pick up
- the number of active users on site right now,
- pageviews per minute (up to 30 minutes back) and per second (up to 60 seconds back),
- top referrals,
- top active pages,
- top keywords,
- top locations.
2. The Locations section features:
- active visitors on site with top countries specified,
- top cities listed and mapped,
- all countries (when choosing ALL TRAFFIC) listed and mapped:
3. In the Traffic Sources bar item you come to know how much of your traffic is organic, direct or referral. Sources for organic and referral traffic are specified.
4. In addition to direct, organic and referral visitor count, the Content real-time menu item lists active pages.
So that's a gist of what data you can get, and here are three suggestions of how you can use it.
How You Can Benefit from Google Analytics Real-Time
1. Immediately react to traffic drops
Google Analytics Real-Time lets you spot fluctuations of your traffic live. Here's the case.
Imagine you have downloaded a viral video to Youtube which sends floods of fresh traffic from the very beginning to your website. Then all of a sudden there's a dramatic traffic drop. With standard web reporting, you would have noticed it only the next day.
With real-time reporting, you get to know it right the moment it happens. It gives you an opportunity to take actions, like adding social media fuel.
The point is, you can have attention to your video – or any other content – back on the spot with least efforts. If you miss the moment and start the buzz the next day, you'll actually have to start your promotion from the very beginning.
2. Chase trendy content for immediate community engagement
With Google Analytics Real-Time, you can see which content appears to be most trendy at the moment.
For example, you see that the majority of visitors are currently reading your several-month-old post. Hey, that means the topic is trendy, so
- catch up on some hot discussions in industry forums,
- add some fresh comments to the post,
- join some related tweeter charts,
- or shine some light on the topic using a different angle in your new post.
Any idea to engage your audience on the spot will bring more traffic!
3. Plug into important discussions
By monitoring referral traffic sources in Google Analytics Real-Time, you can notice important forum discussions about your website/brand that are currently active.
For example, you notice that the majority of your traffic now comes from a popular industry forum. You go to this forum to see that there's a hot discussion about one of your products, with people taking sides and debating. That's a brilliant opportunity to reach out your prospects, answering their questions and turning them into your loyal customers.
That's probably it for the suggestions of using Google Analytics Real-Time Beta. If you look around the web, you can also see people excited about the new feature and suggesting to use it:
- to measure immediate social media impact, e.g. see how different tweets work for you,
- find best timing for major announcements, launching new products, starting campaigns,
- tracking sales and other marketing campaigns live,
- monitoring geo-specific marketing campaigns,
- making your visitors buy through monitoring their behavior and interacting via live chat.
We didn't include any of the above for two reasons:
1. This is already possible with Google Analytics Standard Reporting.
This is the case of social media impact for example.
If you want to measure the impact of different types of tweets, e.g. ones containing hash tags, @mentions, retweets or just plain links, you can get back to your report the next day, select the hour of the day that interests you and don't lose your time spotting it live.
The same is true about spotting best timing, tracking sales, including geo-specific ones – get back to a detailed historical picture and analyze it when you have time for it.
2. GA Real-Time Beta hasn't provided enough functionality yet.
That's the reason why you can't trace hesitating clients and interact via live chat with them. The current beta version doesn't allow you to say that this particular visitor is stuck on the final order page, but they obviously have questions, as they don't press "buy" and keep returning to the knowledge base.
All you get is the number of visitors currently on your final order page, but you can't personalize their behavior as you can with other web analytics real-time like Lucky Orange for example.
Thus, we can't say that GA Real-Time Beta helps make your online customers buy. Yet.
The bottom line
Google Analytics Real Time certainly has a "wow" effect. Potentially, this new feature allows you to experiment with your internet marketing practices in a more accurate time frame.
Still, there are only few application areas we could name so far.
The benefit count will grow if Google Analytics team introduce an option to create campaigns/goals/customer segments and trace them real-time.
Alerts showing that N visitors are currently on X page, or M visitors are brought in by one and the same referral – you name it – would also be of great use. Such alerts would allow you to do your normal work without being glued to real-time stats but be sure you won't miss the right moment to take immediate actions.
A plugin showing the number the current visitors in a browser or in a pop-up window would also come in handy.
Do you find Google Analytics Real-Time useful and are you using it at all? Your comments below are more than welcome!
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