It’s no secret that I’m a massive nerd. I’m never more nerdy than when it comes to data and analytics (except maybe when talking about Zelda games).

There is an insane amount of incredibly useful, insightful and valuable information available completely free in Google Analytics and if you don’t yet have it set up for your website you’re truly missing out on a goldmine of information that can maximise your competition or giveaway – go and set it up right now.

For the geniuses amongst you who have already had the foresight to set up Google Analytics (or GA as I’ll now call it because I’ll be typing it a lot in this post), let’s look at some of my favourite goldmines in GA to help you maximise the results from your competition, contest or giveaway.

I’m going to try my hardest to keep my nerdiness in check, but I make no promises.

Find out who your audience is and who is entering your competition.

Assuming you’re all set up and logged in, let’s start with the ‘Audience’ tab in GA.

AUDIENCE > OVERVIEW

The audience overview is always our first port of call for a quick snapshot of the demographics of the people visiting a website before we launch a competition. This allows us to benchmark the average number of users or visitors, how long they spend on the site and how many of them arrive on your site, look at just one page and leave (AKA bounce rate).

Benchmarking these stats before and during the competition helps us understand if we’re reaching and engaging new people and whether they hang around after entering the competition.

AUDIENCE > DEMOGRAPHICS > OVERVIEW

We don’t spend a huge amount of time here, but we always have a quick look just to see if there are any obvious or heavy skews towards one gender or another or towards any particular age bracket.

AUDIENCE > INTERESTS > OVERVIEW

One of my favourite places in Google Analytics. Useful not only for inspiring demographic targeting for competition ads, but also for confirming we’re attracting the right people to our competition.

Screenshot from Google Analytics showing Audience > Interests > Overview.

A quick clarification of the categories:

  • Affinity Category (reach) shows the general interest areas Google believes your visitors identify with (or have an affinity for).
  • In-Market Segments are the products and services Google believes your visitors are actively looking to purchase (or are in the market to buy).
  • Other Category is badly named and is often overlooked, but provides a more specific idea of the sub-interests your visitors have within those larger affinity categories. In the image above, for example, ‘Sports & Fitness/Health & Fitness Buffs’ in Affinity is drilled down to ‘Sports/Team Sports/Australian Football’ specifically in the other category section.

Heading to this screen gives you the overview for your whole site.

If you want to see the categories and segments just for your competition page, head to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages, click the URL of your competition page, then add a Secondary dimension (at the top of the table) of the category of interests you want to see (in-market, affinity or other).

AUDIENCE > GEO > LANGUAGE / LOCATION

As the name implies, you can see the most common languages and locations of those visiting your website.

If you’re based in the USA, for example, but have a large client base in France that your competition is open to, you may wish to translate your ads and/or landing page into French for maximum conversion and engagement.

As we always say, every competition and every business is unique, so have a dig around in your GA Audience data and find the insights that will best help your business.

A couple of other pages to check out may be Behaviour > Engagement if time on site is important to you and Audience > Users Flow for a visual representation of which pages your visitors head to.

Find out where your visitors and competition entrants have come from.

ACQUISITION > OVERVIEW

Another handy overview of where your visitors have come from (organic search, directly typing in the URL, referred from a third party website or from social media), what their behaviour is once they arrive and whether they convert (i.e. complete any of the Goals you’ve set up in GA – for example to purchase or subscribe).

Super handy when planning a competition, to see where most of your traffic comes from, how engaged they are once they get to your site and whether they take your desired actions on your site or not.

This helps us put together a promotional plan that compliments the natural flow of visitors to a client’s website as well as gives us fuel for channels to experiment with during the competition.

TIP: drill down further into each category by clicking on the name of that channel.

For example, clicking on ‘Organic Search’ will show you what people searched to find you and clicking on ‘Social’ will break down referral traffic from each social media channel you’re on.

ACQUISITION > SOURCE/MEDIUM

This gives you a detailed breakdown of where exactly your site traffic has come from. Instead of grouping your traffic sources by channel, you get a list of specific sites, search engines and social sites and the associated stats such as percentage of new users, bounce rate, session duration, revenue etc.

Again, if you head to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages and click your competition URL in the table, you can add a Secondary dimension of Source/Medium to see exactly where your competition-specific traffic is coming from.

ACQUISITION > GOOGLE ADS

There is a wealth of information to be analysed in this section if you’re running Google Ads for your competition. From spotting underperforming campaigns, keywords and queries to scrap, or finding high converting campaigns to divert more funds to; right down to what you’re spending per hour on your campaigns.

Essentially this section simply links your Google Ad account with your Google Analytics account so you get more data in each platform and shortcuts the steps you need to take to see how your campaigns are performing and easily create remarketing audiences in your Google Ads account.

Find out what your visitors and competition entrants do once on your site.

BEHAVIOUR > OVERVIEW

Like the previous overview pages we’ve looked at, this is a neat little dashboard that shows you your traffic trends in terms of views, time on page, bounce rate and exit rate.

BEHAVIOUR > BEHAVIOUR FLOW

Another one of my favourite pages in Analytics. Whilst Users Flow (mentioned in Audiences above) focusses mainly on where your users/audience/traffic/visitors have come from; behaviour flow focusses on what they do once they’re there.

Screenshot from Google Analytics showing competition entrants’ Behaviour Flow.

We find this page especially useful to gain insight into what our users do once they’ve seen the competition landing page. We normally see most users flow from the competition landing page to the competition thank you page; but it’s the users that don’t head to the thank you page that we’re most interested in.

If someone sees a competition, doesn’t enter, but explore the rest of the site instead, where they head to next can give us an indication of problems with the competition or ways we can recapture that visitor and encourage them to enter.

Similarly, we love to see what users do after the thank you page. Whilst you may see a lot of exits, you may also see people heading to check out your products or services, taking a peek at your contact page or heading to your about page to learn more about you. This shows us how engaged your competition entrants are with you as a business.

BEHAVIOUR > SITE CONTENT > ALL PAGES

As mentioned already, this page is where you need to spend your time if you want to look at data and analytics relating to your competition page/URL only.

Head to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages, locate the URL of your competition page in the table, click it and then use the ‘Secondary dimension’ dropdown box to show data specifically for your competition or giveaway page.

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Track your conversions and sales.

If you have set up Goals in GA, the ‘Conversions’ tab is where you’ll be able to see data for those that have completed your goal actions.

If you’re a service-based business, you have an option to subscribe or you offer a lead magnet or consult session, you can use Goals to track how many people complete these actions and the journey they take to complete them.

For e-commerce businesses, by far the most valuable part of the Conversions tab is the Conversions > E-commerce section.

CONVERSIONS > E-COMMERCE > MARKETING / MULTI-CHANNEL FUNNELS

When it comes to competitions, we spend most of our time in the E-commerce section of the Conversions tab.

In the E-commerce > Marketing section, if you’ve set up your coupons and codes correctly, Google Analytics will do all the hard work for you summarising how much revenue, how many transactions and the average order value any discount codes or affiliate codes generated for you as a result of your competition.

Similarly, in the Multi-Channel Funnels section, GA will calculate and report the number of sales and value of the sales that came about as a direct result of your competition.

A little hard work setting this tracking up before you launch your competition will make your life a lot easier when it comes to post-competition analysis and working out how much revenue your competition generated.

And breathe.

Well done if you read through the whole article and didn’t just skip to the bottom. Yes, it got a little nerdy and intense, but Google Analytics used to scare the pants off me too when I first started delving into its depths and thanks to their constant development and always adding new features and reports; there’s always more to learn… But that’s the beauty of this incredibly amazing, sometimes creepy, always nerdy and surprisingly free tool. If you know what to look for in GA, you’re sure to find it – and along with that data, you’ll learn how to implement it to maximise the results you’ll see from your competition.

If your eyes glaze over at the mere mention of data, or you can’t tell your Acquisition from your elbow, why not let the competition and data nerds help you out? We live, eat, sleep and breathe this stuff and love every second. You can call us, email us, message us on Facebook or Instagram or fill in a contact form – let us be your competition nerds and do the hard work for you.

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