At what time of day does your website get the most traffic? More importantly, what time of day does your website perform best in terms of goals or sales?
Below I will describe the different techniques by which you can view vital website statistics based on different times of day, week or month.
Google Analytics hour of day report
Most websites receive the majority of their visits during the day when people are awake and have predictably busy periods during weekdays. You may see spikes in website traffic just before school or work time in the morning (7am to 9am), or at lunchtime (12pm to 2pm), or right after school or work (4pm to 6pm).
Saying that, some websites experience peaks of traffic throughout the day depending on the content they publish and the audience they target. For example, a children’s website will be quiet at night, while a business-to-business website will be much busier during typical business hours.
As with a lot of statistics from Google Analytics, we cannot tell unless we dive in to the data. Follow the steps below to create a 24 hour traffic report, or click here to add this report automatically in to Google Analytics once logged in:
Make sure you pick a large date range in the top right corner. The more data you have, the clearer the results in the hourly report will be:
You can now see a graph and a data table with the number of sessions throughout the day:
Use this graph to identify the peak times of the day when the website receives traffic. If the peak is just before midnight, then consider adding a special offer on the website that ends at midnight to create a last minute rush of sales. If the peak is around lunchtime, then make sure you promote the website with advertising heavily around 11am, just before lunchtime, to draw in the biggest number of visitors.
If you have goals and/or ecommerce tracking setup on the website, then these can give you valuable insights on what time the website converts the best, independent of traffic levels. Follow the steps below to create a 24 hour goal and ecommerce conversion rate report or click here to add this report automatically in to Google Analytics once logged in:
Again, ensure you pick a large date range in the top right corner once the report has run to get the best results.
Now you can see how well the website performs at different times of the day. You can switch between goal completions and ecommerce conversion rate using the drop down just above the graph shown below. This is especially useful when adding bid adjustments on ecommerce PPC campaigns to boost overall profitability:
On all forms of paid advertising and social media, this report can highlight the exact times to ramp up efforts on both fronts to capture as many visitors as possible during times when they are likely to convert.
If ecommerce tracking is installed correctly, remember to account for different average order values as well as the different conversion rates throughout the day. The effectiveness of the website during the day depends not only on how well the website converts at different times, but also the average amount people spend during those times.
Google Analytics day of week report
Having analysed hundreds of websites, we’ve seen that traffic is highly likely to dip and have a lower conversion rate during the weekends.
Traffic levels can also be lower on Fridays, when a large number of people are socialising, travelling, or watching their favourite TV shows.
There’s often surprising statistics from Monday to Thursday, with certain days having much higher conversion rates than others. For example, we’ve seen that many people make the biggest purchases online in the middle of the week.
There’s a great collection of Twitter & Blog post statistics over at BufferApp.com and Email sending statistics at Mojn.com, if you want to see how these specific channels vary at different times.
The statistics for different days of the week are important to look at if you want an idea of how a visitor’s mood might change throughout the week. For example, the conversion rate for a teenage clothing website we promote increases by almost 20% on average on Thursdays. Why this happens, we don’t know. What’s important though, is that we know we can spend 20% extra per person with paid advertising on Thursdays, while ensuring that all social media channels save their best content for this highly lucrative day.
Follow the steps below to create a day of the week traffic report or click here to add this report automatically in to Google Analytics once logged in:
As always, ensure you pick a large date range in the top right corner for more accurate statistics:
Now we can see the average number of visitors (sessions) for each day of the week within the data table:
To compare statistics more easily, use the comparison tool next to the data chart:
With the comparison tool, you can now compare each day to the average for all days. Red bars show a decrease and green bars show an increase compared to the average.
Again, if you have goals and/or ecommerce tracking setup then you can see what day of the week the website converts the best, independent of traffic levels. Follow the steps below to create a day of the week conversion report or click here to add this report automatically in to Google Analytics once logged in:
Remember to pick a long date range in the top right corner once the report has run or else these stats will unreliable.
Using the comparison tool will highlight the best and worst days of the week. This can help craft ideal time bid adjustments in Google AdWords and when to boost social media activities:
Advanced Google Analytics Time Reports
To get really accurate data you may wish to combine the 24 hours of the day report with the 7 days per week report to get an hour-by-hour account of how your website performs on each day of the week. For example, traffic on many websites will be very different on a Friday morning compared to the same time on a Sunday morning. This report will highlight the differences.
This report is ideal for time of day bid adjustments on paid advertising platforms, such as Google AdWords or Bing Ads, which allow you to adjust bids at different times of the day and on different days of the week.
Simply add the “Hour” and “Day of the Week Name” dimensions to the same custom report and run it as before with a large date range. Click here to download the traffic report, or here to download the ecommerce and goal report if you want to skip this part once logged in to Google Analytics:
To get both the hours and days on the chart you have to reveal the secondary dimension and select the one not shown:
Then you need to show all rows and export the data in a spreadsheet:
Using Microsoft Excel, you can turn this data into a usable graph showing conversion rates for each hour of each day of the week:
Notice that within the real statistics shown above, Saturday and Sunday are very similar in the day time, but Sunday has a much better ecommerce conversion rate than Saturday after 3pm. Friday and Thursday evenings are also a poor time for converting compared to other weekdays.
Another advanced report that may be of use would be looking at the day of the month conversion rate (click here for the automatic report). Simply select the “Day of the month” dimension and then export the data as shown in the previous report after showing all the rows of data within the table:
Again, using Excel spreadsheet techniques you can turn this data into a usable graph showing conversion rates for each day of the month:
I suggest avoiding national holidays within these stats, especially Christmas time – between the end of November until the first week of January for most of the world . Christmas time gives unnaturally high traffic and conversion rates at the end of the month for many ecommerce sites, and the opposite for many B2B websites.
If there is a trend for higher conversion rates during different days of the month, as there is in the example above, you can either manually raise Maximum CPC amounts in these periods, or create automatic AdWords scripts to raise and lower them at the right times.
The example above has an upwards trend around the middle of the month and the end of the month. Many people get paid at the end of the month which influences buying behaviour around the end and start of each month on most ecommerce websites. Luxury goods seem to have a mid-month boost in conversion rates whereas cheaper goods have a boost between near the end of the month and the first week of the month I’ve identified.
Looking at traffic levels and goal or ecommerce conversion rates during different times gives great insights into how people interact with your website.
Finding any times that differ from normal statistics allows you to optimise paid advertising channels and to get more traction from social media.
Experiment with these custom reports and you can find a wealth of valuable data. When experimenting with custom reports, the worst that can happen is that you don’t see any data or anything of use. Nothing you do here will run the risk of breaking your site, and if you don’t like what you see, starting another report is easy.
Have any questions or issues? Comment below and I’ll get back to you shortly.