Google Analytics is useful, and it's free, but getting the most out of this tool can be enhanced with the following tips.
One of the great things about Google Analytics, other than the fact it's free, is how simple it is – easy to set up and easy to use. But if you want to get the most out of your website data, there is additional functionality you can enable that isn't turned on by default.
Here's my checklist for running Google Analytics to its fullest potential – because better data means a stronger ability to form better insights and make better decisions around your digital marketing activity.
If you are asking the user to take an action on your site, you should be tracking it. This could range from making a purchase, signing up to an email newsletter, or even submitting a form. Setting up Goals allows you to not only measure and report on these conversions, but to analyse the traffic source, device, and location. A monetary value can also be assigned to each goal to assist in ROI reporting and optimization.
2. Funnel Visualization
Where there are multiple steps in a goal, like completing a transaction over a few pages, be sure to setup the funnel. Using the Funnel Visualisation tool, you can understand at what stage the dropouts are occurring and stop leaking leads. Fixing user experience, A/B testing or remarketing might all be tactics to explore once you've seen what your funnel looks like.
3. E-commerce Tracking
If your business is around e-commerce, it's a no brainer to enable this enhanced conversion tracking. This will allow a deeper level of reporting across product sales, categories and revenue. Again this provides incredible value when you analyse where these visits are coming from and (Read more...) your digital marketing activity is performing.
4. Event Tracking
By default, other than tracking which pages a user visits, Google Analytics doesn't tell you a lot about how people interact with your site. To measure interactions, such as how many people click on a share button, or how many users watched a video, you need Event Tracking. To better understand these behaviours, each custom interaction can be manually tagged to report directly into Google Analytics each time the event is trigged.
5. On-site Search
What users search for on your site tells you not only what people are looking for, but also what they couldn't find. The most searched for queries inform you about what content is missing, or if it couldn't be found easily in the navigation or on the front page. By default Google Analytics won't report on these searches, but it's usually not hard to set it up. Learn more about Site Search here.
6. Google Account Linking
Google Analytics integrates incredibly well with the rest of Google's products such as Adwords and Adsense. Manually linking these accounts automates much of the reporting, gives you greater insight across the products and puts all your data in one place.
7. Exclude Internal Traffic
If you, or your employees, are constantly on your site there's a good chance they're skewing the data. Measures like conversion rates and dwell time will be softened by internal traffic and testing. Avoid this by excluding this traffic based on a specific IP address.
8. Cross Domain & Sub Domain Tracking
If your site has sub domains (eg. blog.brand.com and www.brand.com) or you need to track across different domains, ensure all your data is being captured and sits in the one Google Analytics profile. Setting this up also allows you to manually exclude domains as you need to. For example, on many e-commerce platforms paypal.com is attributed as a popular traffic source (due to the nature of the shopping cart), but this can be excluded to better understand where the sale really came from.
9. Google Tag Manager
Implementing the Google Analytics code and maintaining it can be painful if you're not the Webmaster. It can be slow, inefficient and cause problems if not implemented correctly, especially if writing code isn't in your job description! Google Tag Manager addresses these problems, requiring you to only install one piece of code once. Once this is in place you can easily amend and add new tags quickly and without breaking anything – you won't even have to annoy the IT department.
10. Enable Remarketing
If you're going to run remarketing on the Google Display Network, make life easy by turning on the remarketing feature. This will allow you to easily create custom audiences and export them to Google Adwords.
11. Enable Demographic Reporting
Google Analytics can report on demographics and interests of your visitors – you only have to turn on the functionality. Using data from across the Google products, you can better understand who your visitors are and how to target new leads.
12. UTM Tagging
Although it's not technically part of setting up Google Analytics, consider how UTM tags could help you better understand your digital marketing activity. Tracking clicks across display, email, social, etc. and their impact on your site is powerful data, especially when combined with the above tools.
Have we forgotten something marketers always forget when setting up Google Analytics? Let us know in the comments section below.
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