Clients often ask us, “How can we measure our website performance? Furthermore, how can we learn more about our customers wants and needs to ensure they become repeat visitors?
While there are many tools on the market that measure performance, if you want a tool with robust statistics and comprehensive data [for FREE, we might add] our go-to suggestion is always Google Analytics.
The major pro of Google Analytics? There is limitless information you can learn about your website and your users. The con? It can be immensely overwhelming for beginners taking the plunge. Not to fear! We have compiled the following list of Google Analytics Beginner must-knows to help ease the transition between novice and expert.
1. The Initial Set-Up
- Installing the Tracking Code: This is the very first step to setting-up your Google Analytics. Tracking code, called a snippet, that is unique to your website domain acts as the gateway between your customer’s behaviors and you. The code allows you to track where your customers are coming from, what page they landed on first, what links were clicked, how long they were on the site, what they read, what they bought, and so much more. If you have a developer or IT, they should be able to insert this code in less than 5 minutes.
- Be aware that you tracking code can be customized! Google Analytics lets you customize your unique tracking code to be able to measure how your customers interact with your website. For example, you can track email campaigns, banner ad clicks, coupon codes – the list goes on.
- Creating Different Views: Setting up multiple views is important to obtain a more accurate depiction of your website data. There’s no right or wrong way to set up your Google Analytics, but at Tower, we set ours up with 3 views:
- Unfiltered View: This view tracks all traffic from all domains that flow through the site
- Master View: This view tracks all website data but pulls out domains that may skew true traffic data (like your employee’s computer domains).
- Test View: A view that we are able to test different trackings & codes before pushing to live analytics
- Setting Up Goals: Set goals in the Admin menu that are specific to your website and what you’d like to achieve using the goal categories provided. You can set goals for items such as average purchase amount, email sign-up, time on site, etc. You can even give goals a monetary value so you can see how a conversion translates into dollars.
2. Understanding Reports
Google Analytics offers a variety of reports for you to view and glean information from. It is important, as a Google Analytics Beginner, that you understand the functionality of these reports and how they best can be used to strategize & analyze marketing efforts. Here are the four basic reports in Google Analytics:
- Dashboard View: Your dashboard is one-and-done report that shows you an overall perspective of your website traffic and user behavior. The dashboard view is the “big picture” that also allows for managers and marketers alike to see key success factors.
- Conversion Reports: Also considered eCommerce reports, conversion reports tell the story of a sale, form submission or event sign-up from beginning to end.
- Content & Behavior Reports: Content & behavior reports dive into a user’s brain and help marketeers understand: 1) How a user interacts with a piece of content and 2) Whether that content is performing well based on A, B, and C factors (like bounce rate, amount of time on page, exit percentage, etc.). Content & behavior reports and incredibly useful when A/B testing new types of content or if you’re trying to understand how a user might flow through your site and through your sales funnel.
- Sources Report: Looking to see where traffic comes from helps marketers better understand the strengths and weaknesses of their overall strategy & team efforts. A Source Report shows you whether your organic SEO efforts are paying off with a gradual increase month-to-month or if your social media traffic is drastically down in comparison to the same time period last year.
- Technology Report: We all know that mobile comprises 60% of all web traffic, but for certain industries, this can shift. Learn more about what devices your users are using to interact with your site to form strategies around remote design and types of content in the future.
- Customized Reports: With Google Analytics, you can create a variety of custom reports that best suit the needs and goals of your company. For example: keyword analysis report, hours & days report, browser acquisition report or a page timing report.
3. Knowing What to Look For
Google Analytics can be mind-boggling. There are numbers and data and graphs all over the screen; where to concentrate on first? Before you start digging into the data, first consider what your most important objectives are. Traffic increases? Greater user engagement? Broader source of leads? These goals will drive future analysis. For Google Analytics Beginners just getting acquainted with the system, it’s better to break the interface down to specific parts (because looking holistically can sometimes be misleading). These three areas are good to start:
- Landing Page Stats: This may include bounce rates, time on page, user drop-off, engagement with certain links and/or forms. Your landing pages can give a lot of information on how a user interacts with your site, especially landing pages that are house conversions. Look at the landing pages that you are trying to drive the greatest amount of traffic to and start familiarizing yourself with what each statistic does, and does not, mean.
- Traffic Sources: By viewing your traffic sources, as mentioned above, you can see where most of your traffic is generating from and what cylinders to fire and what others to keep on idle.
- Demographics: If you have a brick-and-mortar store, one of the first things you will do is analyze your customer base. It’s no different digitally. Understanding first and foremost what demographic of people are coming to your site helps you create web copy, strategize on how a person would use your site and how to approach a sale.
4. Our Favorites
At Tower, we use Google Analytics day in and day out. Our team is filled with Google Analytics nerds (and we better be as Google Partners). Here are our team’s Google Analytics Awards, including reports and tools, we think you should know about:
Most Useful: Traffic Channels
Most Fun: Behavior Flow
Least Likely To Be Accurate: Bounce Rates
Most Thorough: Landing Page Analysis (it’s a rabbit hole of information)
Most Underrated: Campaigns
Most Overrated: Referrals
Un-Sung Hero: Social Reports
Favorite Overall: Conversions