Google Analytics is one of the most valuable marketing tools in your marketing tool chest. I know that’s a big swing and a big statement, but I firmly believe that it’s true.
When I’m working with clients on troubleshooting their sites, their content, or even their ad campaigns, their Google Analytics is one of the first places I want to look because it can tell us so much. Most ad platforms, for example, only tell you about the clicks they sent there—we have no idea why they drop off afterward unless we look at Google Analytics.
1. Set Up Goals and Funnels in Analytics
Google Analytics can tell you a lot on its own, but if you’re wondering how to get the most out of the platform, you’ll want to use a few features that you need to set up manually. Goals is one of those features.
Goals—which are viewed under the Conversions tab—allow you to essentially set an end goal on your site, and then plug in possible paths to conversion that you want to track. This is crucial because it will show you how effective your on-site funnels are at driving users towards the point you want, whether that’s to download a lead magnet, send your brand a message, or make it to the checkout page.
Let’s look at an example from my own site. My site is relatively simple, but the goal is for me to get people from the home page to the “Contact Me” page, where leads can get in touch to learn more about my services and hopefully hire me. I can see where people are entering the funnel, where they’re going next, and how it compares to the ideal path I’d like them to follow.
2. Establish KPIs Before You Dive In
Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs) are the metrics you’re choosing to focus on to gauge the progress and success of your marketing campaigns.
If you know that you’re looking to drive sales, for example, you’ll want to track direct conversions and potentially adds-to-cart. When you’re evaluating your content marketing strategy, you’ll likely want to look at the average time spent on the page and bounce rates to see how relevant the content is to your target audience.
Whatever it is that you choose to measure, you absolutely want to know what it is before you dive into Google Analytics. Otherwise, it’s easy to get distracted and overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information at your disposal, and your focus can get muddled by vanity metrics or data that’s not immediately relevant to what you need to measure right now.
3. Track Progress Over Time, Not Just Immediate Results
As you’re using Google Analytics, it’s easy to focus on what’s happening right now. While that’s clearly important for all the reasons you can imagine, you also want to compare it to past performance.
All sorts of things can change at any moment. Consumer behavior has shifted greatly in the past few years, for example, with more Millennials prioritizing buying from companies who are sustainable, ethical, and have strong moral missions even if the products cost more. If you start to see traffic dropping off, it could be an indicator that a new competitor has come onto the market or that your audience is looking for something a little different and you need to shift.
Keyword trends and referral platforms rise and fall in popularity. If you were going all-in on Facebook’s organic marketing before organic reach declined, you may have been in for an unpleasant surprise when you saw referral traffic start to slide. Similarly, keywords that may have been generating a ton of traffic for you at one point may not be as popular, or you may find that you’ve fallen in ranking and are having trouble snagging traffic.
4. Use URL Shorteners to Evaluate Specific Campaigns
The more accurate your data is, the more valuable it becomes. You’ll realize this early on when looking at your general referral sources. You’ll see that Facebook is sending you 484 users a month, but then realize that it doesn’t tell you all that much.
Which Facebook posts are sending you the most traffic, and which are sending you the most valuable traffic? It’s likely that a select chunk of your PPC ads are sending you the most high-value traffic, but until you know what they aren’t you can’t optimize your ad campaigns or your ad spend accordingly.
5. Consider Getting Outside Help
Even the five tips that we’ve already looked at show that there’s a lot to keep up with when it comes to Google Analytics, and in some ways, we’re just skimming the surface. There are so many different reports you create and areas to focus on that it’s a lot for many small brands to keep up with on their own.
In some cases, it really is best to partner up with a professional agency who is heavily experienced in monitoring and understanding Google Analytics so that they can find the key data you need and pass it along with you with actionable insights detailing what to do with it.
If you think this may be the case for your business, check out our web analytics services that we offer here at Disruptive Advertising. Analytics and data are in the lifeblood of Disruptive, and we’re excited about all the data that may be giving you a headache. We’ll help you focus in on the metrics that matter, set up a goal and event tracking, and even go beyond Google Analytics to help you set up heat map tracking to assess your site on a whole new level.