by Lyndi Lawson
I’ve had a fair bit of free time on my hands lately. Not the good kind, where I catch up on my reading and finally get around to organising a repair to the leaks in my roof. Oh no – it was more the lying-in-bed-in-the-throes-of-an-evil-tonsillitis-bronchitis-black-lung-viral-bacterial-mucous-ridden-hell kind. Nonetheless, it gave me some time to think, not least of all about my tips, which today are on getting more out of Google Analytics.
We’ve all heard or read the line somewhere before: the beauty of eMarketing lies in its trackability and measurability. It’s true too – except that for the less technically minded among us, it’s easier said than done. Enter Google Analytics; the free tool from Google that makes it possible for marketers to track their site statistics. Undoubtedly one of Google’s gems, this tool can nonetheless be intimidating. These pointers are aimed at making it a little less scary for new users.
Defining your site goals will help you use Analytics to reach them. Image Credit: Opododo
1. Don’t Just Set It Up; Actually Use It
Setting up accounts and profiles for tools and sites that you will never use is a common problem among techies and non techies alike. Google Analytics easily become one of those white elephant tools that you plan to go back to and never do. There are a lot of good reasons to use it. If you know what you’re doing, it can provide insights that will dramatically improve your site’s traffic and performance as well as your customer’s onsite experiences.
As I (regularly) tell my technically inept parents: when it comes to wrapping your head around something new, the best approach is to fiddle around until you have a better grasp of what tool can do. To my mucous infused brain, that sounds dirty – surprisingly, that’s unintentional. If you’re paralysed with the fear that you might break something, set up a second account to use solely for testing purposes. This way, you can master the various aspects of the tool fearlessly, and mistakes will have no impact on your ‘real’ account.
2. Optimise Your Goal Tracking
This tip assumes that your website has defined goals. These can vary from collecting newsletter signups to selling a product. Regardless of what your site goals are, setting up the tracking of these goals is crucial to your success with Google Analytics. Goal tracking is arguably the most useful thing that Google Analytics can do, because it offers insight into whether your website is converting visitors to customers or not. The process of setting up goals for your analytics profile is a simple one that involves defining your goal funnel and configuring your goals. Google has a great post that explains exactly how to do this, so I’m not going to flog a dead horse.
3. Utilise All of Your Reports
While the awesomeness of Google Analytics should not be downplayed, it nonetheless has limitations. While it will provide you with access to spiffy looking graphs, that’s where it ends – it cannot analyse the date for you. That’s part of your job. The other part is making sure that the insights you derive evolve into actionable changes and improvements to your site.
There are a vast number of reports that Analytics provides access to. While it is tempting to find one report (like the traffic report for instance) that you can easily make sense of and then stick with it, it is beneficial for you to at least explore the others. It can be really useful to see where your visitors come from geographically, which referring sites generate most of your traffic, which keywords bring people to your site, as well as the most popular content among other things. Again, the best way to avoid feeling overwhelmed by all of the data available is simply to play around with you account and get comfortable with it. You’re bound to find insight in unexpected places.
4. Don’t Underestimate The Importance of Segmentation
Segmentation is an excellent way to bring some order to your analytics data. It’s like colour coding your clothes or alphabetising your books, just a little less obsessive compulsive. Segmentation allows you to isolate bits of data and various groups so that you can view them in isolation and compare them with the whole. An example of this can be given using traffic. Should I wish to look at traffic that comes from South Africa and compare it to traffic coming from the rest of Africa or even the world, I can do so. In the event that I am trying to sell the majority of my products to international customers, this information will give me a great deal of insight. The folks at Google have been kind enough to set some of these up already, but for more specific segments, you will need to customise your own. Comprende? For more information on segmentation and the myriad of uses for it, check out this post from the horse’s mouth.
There is a lot more to Google Analytics than what I have written here. I reiterate: the best way to learn is always to do. Until you get in there and get your hands dirty, it is a tool that will not only remain shrouded in mystery but it will by and large, be useless to you.