Relate the data back to the real people using your site

Five ways credit unions can get the most out of Google Analytics

Any way you slice it, Google Analytics is a huge, confusing beast. The price ($0.00) is certainly right, and it’s an amazing resource, but Analytics can also be pretty bewildering, with lots of dead ends, rabbit holes, and red herrings galore.

Plus, all the advice you find online is oriented toward websites selling shoes, games, or agendas. Credit union websites are, well, kind of weird, so not everything applies.

Here are a few suggestions for slicing through the tangle and go beyond page views for nuggets you can use to understand your members better and improve your website’s usefulness.

First, a word on GA4 and GSC…

The current version of Google Analytics is called GA4, and here’s more on GA4 and credit unions. And if you’re not familiar with Google Search Console (GSC), make sure you get up to speed on GSC so you can access a wealth of data on how people are finding your site.

Desktop vs. mobile

This is a basic stat that varies by a surprising amount across credit unions: what percentage of your site users are on mobile devices vs. desktop computers? Most credit unions average around a 50/50 mix, but some range as high as 75% and some as low as 40% mobile users. You can also drill down to Operating System to see the proportion of iOS vs. Android users, if you’re interested.

The value in these stats comes from knowing how and why they’re changing over time, and from thinking about why your numbers in particular are what they are.

For example, if you’re on the low end for mobile users, maybe that’s because your mobile app is really successful; people use the app instead of visiting your website. How does that change your strategy for reaching them? Or perhaps you have a lot of members in large corporate or government offices that usually use their work computers to do their online banking.

Or, if you’re on the high end of mobile usage, maybe your members are younger or more mobile than most.

Once you understand what these numbers might indicate and why, then you’re equipped to make better decisions about marketing, content, and website strategy and design.

Surprises in the top 10

Most of the pages in your top 10 or 25 will make perfect sense, so look for the oddballs. For example, it’s quite common for one of a credit union’s most popular pages to be the Online Banking page; this often comes from people who Google “AwesomeCU Login” and then land on the Online Banking page instead of the home page. Nothing wrong with this in particular, but if it’s getting a lot of eyeballs, make sure you’re paying regular attention to this page, perhaps adding a current offer.

Or perhaps you have a blog post or a help page that’s getting unexpected SEO juice. How might you put that to work, even if many visitors aren’t potential members?

Most of a credit union’s top 25 doesn’t change much, so look for the pages that rise or fall, and think about why — do people seem more interested in auto refis or certificates than usual? Is tax time coming?

Leftovers of old sites and old names

Lots of folks land on credit union websites via bookmarks, and these can be remarkably persistent. We routinely see evidence in Analytics of people attempting to visit bookmarked pages from a website that was revamped 10 or more years ago. Make sure you correctly handle these — set up a 301 redirect to the new page if at all possible so Google and the member’s browser know that it’s a permanent change. Avoid showing a generic error page, or just redirecting to the home page.

And the same happens for credit unions that merge or change names; search terms referencing the old name are often among the top five in Google Search Console for at least a decade afterwards. Make sure you correctly redirect these as well; plan to keep old domain names registered for at least 10 – 20 years.

Landing page

This is a chart in Google Analytics (click “Engagement”, then “Landing page”) that shows you where people land in your website. It also shows crucial data on how long they engaged with each page.

For example, do a lot of people land on a rates page first, and spend more time than average there? They’ve probably bookmarked it, and maybe it’s worth putting an offer on that page for these rate watchers. Similarly, Locations & Hours and Contact pages are always near the top of the list, but may not have as much engagement time — people are often looking for a human.

Are your most important products near the top, like Checking, Mortgages, or Auto Loans? Is there evidence that people aren’t finding things they need?

Location data

Many credit unions are highly local, so the location data may not vary much. But if yours covers more than one city or state, or if your members move around a lot, Analytics contains a lot of useful data on where your site users are coming from. For example, you could separate users from university campuses in different cities, or look at seasonal location data for “snowbirds” who move south for the winter.

Most of all, explore

That’s the biggest thing to keep in mind about Google Analytics and Search Console; remember to take a little time to poke around, explore, and learn. And always put the website data together with what you know about your members. Relate what you see back to the real people using your site, and what they need and want.

Brian Wringer

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