This summer, Google released the first version of their Google Analytics Benchmarking Newsletter to replace the benchmarking reports previously found within the Google Analytics interface. Google originally stated that this would be a quarterly newsletter if it was received as an acceptable substitute for the former benchmarking features within Google Analytics. However, this first edition was delivered three months late, and I have yet to receive volume 2. It looks like this service may be completely abandoned, so I wanted to share some of the noteworthy insights from the newsletter for those online sports marketers out there searching for useful benchmarks for their websites.
Google cites poor adoption rates of the benchmarking feature as their reason for “deprecating” the reports in favor of a quarterly newsletter format. The previous benchmarking reports, which were removed from the Google Analytics interface on March 10th, allowed users to compare their website to many different industry segments, including sports. While it is unfortunate that the newer version does not segment by industry, there are still some useful trends to consider when looking at the general reports.
1. Site Metrics
Key site metrics including pages/visit (4.9 in 2009; 4.5 in 2010) and average time on site (5:49 in 2009; 5:23 in 2010) saw declines, while bounce rate (48.2% in 2009; 47.0% in 2010) saw a slight improvement. These numbers indicate that site visitors have more options competing for their attention and/or are finding what they are looking for more easily. This trend is a small hit to teams selling banner ad space, who must compensate by improving the stickiness of their websites.
Here are the distributions from some key geographic regions:
2. Traffic Sources
Direct traffic* (36.5% in 2009; 36.8% in 2010), Search Engine traffic (27.0% in 2009; 28.0% in 2010), and “Other” forms of traffic (15.5% in 2009; 15.8% in 2010) all had year over year spikes, with Referral traffic (21.0% in 2009; 19.4% in 2010) being the only traffic source mentioned that experienced a year over year decline. This finding also points to a visitor’s tendency to find what they are looking for more efficiently and moving on. They are either going directly to a site to find what they need, and/or search engines are doing a better job of delivering what searchers are looking for. This trend should tell online marketers to focus on inbound marketing strategies and making your bread and butter on your website. The customer is now dictating the communication flow.
* Note that Direct traffic includes traffic from unknown sources and untagged email marketing. It does not mean that 36.8% of visitors are typing your company’s URL into a browser.
3. Operating Systems
Macintosh (4.5% in 2009; 5.2% in 2010), Linux (0.6% in 2009; 0.7% in 2010), and “Other” operating systems (5% in 2009; 9.3% in 2010) all had year over year spikes, with Windows (89.9% in 2009; 84.8% in 2010) being the operating system mentioned that experienced a year over year decline. This trend indicates that Windows may be losing their stranglehold on the marketplace, but it is not necessarily losing it to Apple as most would expect. The numbers also show that Windows still dominates the operating systems landscape, and web teams should be designing accordingly.
When Google originally announced they were removing the Google Analytics Benchmarking reports, they stated they would like to expand their benchmarking by delivering the reports in a newsletter format on a quarterly basis. This first edition of the newsletter is far less insightful than the reporting tools in the Google Analytics suite, but valuable to keep an eye on nevertheless.
If you would like to receive these reports directly yourself (hopefully they release an annual update at a minimum), you must sign up for Google Analytics and opt-in to anonymously share your Google Analytics data. If you would like to contact Google with feedback on how to improve their benchmarking service, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.