Google Analytics is a powerful freemium tool to analyse and report on your website traffic and a hugely valuable source of data for businesses thinking of expanding their operations into new markets.
Google Analytics is the most popular web analytics tool. According to BuiltWith, there are over 21 million websites on the internet that use Google Analytics. Over 70% of the top 100k websites as identified by Quantcast use Google Analytics to track site visits and report on online user behaviour.
While English is still the most popular language on the web, the amount of content available in some of the fastest growing languages on the Internet, such as Russian, Chinese and Spanish, has exploded in the last 10 years. As a result, consumers around the world have become accustomed to receiving information in their own language so brands need to translate and localise their offering for users in these markets in order to complete.
Localisation is a time consuming and resource intensive process so brands and retailers need to prioritise the markets they decide to enter to ensure that they achieve a return on their localisation investment.
In order to help with this, we’ll show you how to set up your Google Analytics reports and define the metrics you need to make decisions about which countries or regions to target. This will help you to determine which languages to prioritise for translation and website localisation allowing you to make the best use of your limited marketing budget if you decide to approach a language provider.
Google Analytics has a pretty good geo-location report under ‘Demographics’ in the ‘Audience’ section. This report will tell you, to a high degree of accuracy, which countries and cities your website visitors are located in.
In order to identify opportunities for overseas expansion, you’d need to consider both the traffic (number of sessions, new sessions, new users etc.) and engagement metrics (e.g. bounce rate, pages per visit, average session duration). If you’ve got an eCommerce website, the Revenue and eCommerce Conversion rate are also two metrics to consider.
Locations with relatively high volumes of traffic but low levels of engagement and few or no conversions are the ones to look into first. In many cases, not having a site available in a user’s language is a key contributor to low engagement and conversion rates.
Google Analytics provides a useful report that relates to the language set in the user’s browser. Again, the data in this report can be very useful in identifying languages will high levels of traffic but low engagement and conversion rates by using the same metrics as for the locations such as sessions, bounce rate, time on site, revenue and conversion rates.
Geo-location & language
In order to identify whether the availability of native language content is a key contributor to engagement and sales is to look at both language and location together. Google Analytics doesn’t offer this out of the box so you need to use the Advanced Segments reporting functionality.
You can do this by selecting ‘Add Segment’ from the main page within the ‘Audience’ overview page, naming your segment (e.g. US Spanish) and setting both the language and country – in this case ‘es’ and ‘United States’.
You can then compare your traffic, engagement and conversion metrics between your new segment and your overall site traffic or any other segment that you decide to define.
Conversion path analysis
It’s quite common for users to abandon the checkout process or exit a site early because of issues related to delivery, shipping or payment options. It’s possible within Google Analytics to use the advanced segment for language and location you’ve created in the previous step to visualise the conversion path and identify and eliminate these barriers to conversion. This information can be found under ‘Goal Flow’ in the ‘Conversion’ section.
Limitations and issues
Like any analytics tool, the data from Google Analytics is not 100% accurate. The location data can be skewed or misrepresented by users using tools such as Private Browsers, as well as Virtual Private Networks and Proxy Servers (which typically mean an internet user is incorrectly geo-allocated to the country of the server, rather than their actual physical location).
People connecting to your site via multiple devices – and hence IP addresses are much more difficult to identify as unique users. High levels of device sharing in places such as Africa and Asia also affects the ability to track users accurately.
For eCommerce stores and other websites that have conversion paths and goals, these would need to be defined and configured to allow for these conversions to be recorded.
Finally, like all other web analytics tools that rely on quantitative data analysis and reporting, you can find out what is happening on your site but have very little, if any, information on why user’s might be displaying certain behaviour.
As a result, we always recommend some qualitative research and collection of data from other sources such as online surveys or user experience testing before deciding on which regions to target and languages to add to your site.