Google Analytics Audience Overview

Outdoor music festivals, such as Milwaukee’s Summerfest, draw huge audiences daily, so having played there, I can say I’ve performed in front of tens of thousands of people on multiple occasions — technically.

Data without context is rarely useful. Connecting two pieces of data might give a picture, but stories are told when many points are tied together. This look at a Google Analytics Audience Overview report will help interpret the story that’s being told.

Definition of Terms

Because not every thing is called what the thing is…

  • Users = people
  • New Users = new people
  • Sessions = visits
  • Number of Sessions per User = average number of visits per person
  • Pageviews = total number of pages viewed
  • Pages / Session = average number of pages viewed per visit
  • Avg. Session Duration = average length of each visit
  • Bounce Rate = percentage of visits where people didn’t do anything when they landed on the website

Sample Report

fake Google Analytics audience overview screenshot
This report is pure fantasy!

This is an audience overview report any website owner would love to believe is true for their site. It shows that within a few weeks, over 1.5 million people (users) visited the website. Approximately 1 million are new people (new users), which means over 500K people are returning visitors. Collectively, these 1.5M people made more than 9 million visits, viewing over 65 million pages. The site received nearly 6 visits per person, and each visit lasted over an hour. Astonishingly, no one bounced, which means every person engaged with the site at least once on every visit. As I said, totally fake!

Give Data Context and Tell the Story

By themselves, these three results sound great:

  • 1 million visits
  • 1 million pageviews
  • 1 million visitors

However, if all three were in the same report, the story says one million people visited the site just once, delivering a 100% bounce rate (i.e. one million people did nothing). A better story would be if 250,000 people generated one million visits and pageviews.

Goals

The story learned from analyzing audience behavior should be applied to understanding the goals and objectives of the website. So, here’s the rest of the story about playing large outdoor festivals.

10,000 people pass the stage during the 90-minute set, but 1,000 stop long enough to hear a song or two. 500 people stay for most of the show, but half of them are hardcore fans who already own all of the band’s records and shirts. Of the 250 “new” fans, 25 buy merchandise after the show. As a musician, saying I’ve been in the arena performing in front of thousands of people is an incredible ego boost. However, that’s just part of the story. The 0.25% conversion rate on merch sales is the other.

Happily, with some ventures, the joy achieved from having the experience is the goal. Sharing eye contact with five people rocking out feels like a 1,000% conversion rate. I’m good with that.