There are various features of Google Analytics that help websites gain more traffic and get more conversions. But Google doesn't make changes for you, improvements based on your business are up to you. Using the features of Google Analytics such as evaluating intelligence events will help alert the website owner when an unusual amount of traffic hits a particular page. Also, monitoring the audience, real-time events, customer acquisitions, user behavior and conversions will give you information to make changes. Changes should be geared towards the goals of the company and the return on investment for stakeholders.
Evaluating intelligence events is similar to VISA sending you an email to let you know about an abnormal purchase for $5,000 on your card. An event in Google Analytics allows you to be alerted when a page gets more than normal traffic, when forms are filled out more than normal or when more conversions happen. The results of the intelligence events will allow the user to focus on a particular page, referral page, landing page or a form on the contact page. Perhaps the popular form should be on multiple pages or it should be easier to get to a popular product page, but the important thing is to use the results to improve something.
Monitoring the audience that visits your website will involve tracking the location, language, industry, device, browser and operating system used to access the website. Perhaps the visitors that are coming from China bounce 90% of the time because English is the only language offered. Creating a link to your Chinese written pages will lower the bounce rate dramatically and create more conversions. Again, Google Analytics can't make the change, but they give you the data that almost makes it obvious to make certain changes. Why do visitors in New Hampshire convert more than California? Perhaps it's because NH doesn't have a sales tax, or because the merchant shipping location is in New England. There may need to be a different marketing approach to California (or west coast) visitors such as free shipping or expedited shipping. Since that's a vague collection of data, perhaps it would be more effective to interview a few California customers to see why they do or do not purchase after visiting the website.
Monitoring real time events involves the SESSION variable (php.net) that Google Analytics uses to watch the visitor move around the website. A unique session ID is created when the IP address hasn't been to the website in the past few months, or if the user recently deleted their cookies and cache. The visitor is tracked from page to page, time on each page, videos played, how many forms that were filled out, and of course, the most popular bounce page. Analyzing data that shows visitors constantly playing a video 3 clicks deep could prompt the website owner to put another copy of the video on the home page. Another important piece of that puzzle is the difference of user referrals to get to the video's page. Did 90% of the visitors get to the deeply placed URL directly from Google or did they navigate there from the home page? If they navigate to the video, it could be quicker and easier for the user to see the video on the home page. However, if the visitors are getting placed directly on the page the video should remain there.
Monitoring acquisitions relates to how the visitors came to the site. The sharks on Shark Tank refer to this as Customer Acquisition Cost when pestering the entrepreneurs looking for venture capital. Google Analytics doesn't care about the cost as much as the sharks, however they will show you which avenue is the most popular. Sometimes there are additional calculations that need to be done to determine what changes should be made. Acquiring 1000 visits for free in the organic search engine is cheaper than getting 1000 visits via Google Adwords, but what does that mean? Perhaps Adwords visitors end up converting more than organic visitors because 50% of the organic visitors were just looking for information rather than products or services. Customer event tracking is different for every company, including competitors with similar goals. Two competitors could have completely different websites with analytics that are as different as night and day.
Monitoring user behavior is similar to using the session variable in real time events, but digs deeper into the user. Why are some visitors converting with one click while some are clicking 5 times before converting? Which pages, links and products convert most often and why? Product links are offered on multiple pages, so which pages offer the best link-to-conversion ratio and why? Why do English speaking visitors convert more than Chinese speaking visitors? Creating user profiles is a very important part of making changes to the website. According to Adrian Lane, Analyst & CTO at Securosis (a renowned information security research and advisory firm), it means "capturing the actions of a user - including the use of applications, services, networks, and data in your IT environment." Knowing the average age, gender, nationality and location of visitors drives improvements to the website.
Monitoring conversions is probably the first thing Google-Analytics-Newbies look at because we all want to increase conversions. However, there are usually 4-5 steps before converting that are each equally important to the conversion itself. An example of visits-to-conversions being too vague of a ratio is explained by, visitors that enter the website from Facebook convert far less than visitors from Google Adwords. Sally Falkow, author of Social Media Intelligence discusses monitoring conversations on social media, "It's vital to monitor these conversations and learn who is talking about you, what they're saying and what they think of your products and your service."
Falkow, Sally (n.d.). Monitor Conversations
Vogel, Dominic (May, 2012). How User Behavior Monitoring Helps Reduce Risk