If you have Google Analytics installed and want to get started fast putting it to use for your online marketing, this article is for you.
It’s based on the Getting Started Fast with Google Analytics webinar presented by Justin Cutroni. Jason’s a former Google Analytics consultant and current Analytics Advocate for Google.
Here are my key takeaways from Jason’s talk:
- Align your use of the analytics tool with your business objectives.
- Establish lots of Goals in analytics (both macro and micro conversions) so that you can see how your buyers are progressing through your site.
- Tag the URLs of your marketing campaigns so that you can track the results of your campaigns in your Analytics reports.
- Start at the top level when you do your analysis. You’ll get a sense of the context first. Then you can dig into smaller groups with segmentation.
- Your experience of the past and your expectations for the future provide you with context. They tell you what a good number is for you on any particular metric.
- Don’t expect a silver bullet. Improve your online marketing results with a hundred small insights and a hundred small changes.
Warning! This turned into a very long post. If you just read the post you’ll get the main ideas from Jason’s talk. But to get the details watch the video.
Jason covers these topics:
- Define your business objectives
- Measure your success with goals
- Google Adwords and your Analytics
- Measure your marketing campaigns
- Improve your results by analyzing traffic sources
Ok, here we go. The rest of the text is directly from Justin.
This webinar will cover the basics you need to know to getting started fast with Google Analytics (GA). Topics will include:
- Which Analytics reports to use for the most common types of businesses (ecommerce, content publishing, and lead generation)
- Tagging your marketing campaigns and how to set up goals to measure success
- Tips and tricks to get the most out of your marketing efforts
1. Define your business objectives
All analytics tools are a reflection of what your business does. If the analytics tool is not aligned with your objectives, you aren’t going to get actionable data.
For websites it usually boils down to five different objectives your business could have.
In the next section you’ll see how to map your business objectives to Goals in Google Analytics.
Not all traffic converts for the main goal that you’ve identified for your website. In fact, only about 2% of traffic typically converts.
What about the rest of your traffic? There is a lot of value in that traffic. How are those visitors using your content? How are they building a relationship with you? How are you engaging with them?
Some common micro conversions include:
- Share content via social media
- Subscribe to newsletters
- Watch video
- Play games
- Use calculators/payment estimators
- Live chat
- Customize product
- Add product to cart
- View special content
- Store locator
- Property search
Micro-conversions help us understand the entire process of conversion.
While not everyone is going to convert on your site, micro-conversions help you understand the needs and desires of the other 98% of your visitors.
2. Measure your success with goals
How do we actually measure macro and micro conversions? We use a feature called Goals in GA.
[Note: A separate webinar on reaching your Goals in Google Analytics goes into great detail on Goals, but today we’ll cover the basics.]
Goals are how you translate the business objectives, the macro and micro conversions, into the settings of GA.
Here’s how to define your Goals:
Step 1: Define Goals in terms of website actions. GA give you up to 20 Goals, so you should have no shortage of goals you can define.
Step 2: Create a conversion Goal in Analytics – Go to the Admin section, click on the Profile tab and then the Goals tab below.
Step 3: Select the Goal type – people most often use URL destination goals. These goals measure when someone requests the page that has the Goal associated with it. Give your Goal a name (make it one that is easy to understand). Select the Goal type and tell GA the URL of the destination page. Now, each time GA detects your browser displays the page for your Goal URL, it will count one more Goal conversion.
Step 4: Select the Goal value. If you are tracking transactions, it’s better to use the Ecommerce tracking. But if your site is not transactional, then you can assign a monetary value for the Goal. For example, if the Goal represented a Sales Lead, and you know the value of a Lead, then you can assign the value here.
3. Google AdWords and your Analytics
You want to make sure you identify where people come from when they arrive at your site. The first source of traffic to identify is Google Adwords. Do this by connecting Google Adwords and GA.
First make sure you are an Administrator on both the AdWords and GA accounts and that you are using the same login id for each.
In GA, in the Admin section, go to the Data Sources tab. You can see the Adwords accounts that are linked to your GA account based on the common logins you use.
Within AdWords, make sure that Auto-Tagging is turned on (AdWords -> My Account -> Preferences) so that GA can use the AdWords tags to organize the AdWords traffic by different AdGroups, keywords, etc.
Once you have established this link, GA will automatically track your AdWords traffic.
4. Measure your marketing campaigns
You want to identify people coming from your other marketing channels – email, search, advertising, etc.
How do you track your different marketing campaigns?
Use link tagging:
Link tagging is the process of adding marketing information to the URLs in your marketing materials.
For example, in email you might include links in that email. If you add tags to the links, then GA can identify information about that email. What can it track? GA has five different query parameters that it can track.
How does GA display the tag in your URL?
In the illustration below you can see how the campaign tagging uses the query parameters and the values you assign them. So in the case of the green url at the bottom of the illustration below, the tagged URL indicates that the:
Google Analytics has a Link Tagging Tool that makes it easy for you to create your tags. Simply fill out a form and the tool will produce the tagged URL.
You can then put the URL into the marketing material you are using. Google can then suck in all that extra data that you identified in the tagged URL. Those tags will appear verbatim in the Analytics reports.
It’s very important to tag the links you are using. If you don’t you won’t be able to analyze the traffic from your different campaigns.
In addition to your tagged campaign traffic, Google identifies three types of traffic for you. This traffic has the source and medium automatically identified.
5. Improve your results by analyzing traffic sources
Now lets figure out how to do the analysis. Many people feel overwhelmed at this stage, so Justin likes to keep it simple. You are go to a certain report, look at the high level data, then drill down by segmenting the data.
You’re not going to drill into your data and find one thing. There’s no one silver bullet that’s going to quadruple your revenue or get you five times the number of leads.
The whole process of analysis is about segmenting and finding little things to change. Over time all those little things add up.
Jason starts with the Campaigns report (Traffic > Sources > Campaigns). It contains all of your campaigns, including AdWords if you are running it. It also includes all the campaigns that you tagged – email, etc.
You’ll see basic metrics like Visits or Pages/Visit or % New Visits. The best way to see context for your data is to look at historical performance compared to expectations for your performance. The best way to think about these numbers is against your expectation.
Next look at bounce rate. Bounce rate helps you identify what percent of traffic comes from a campaign and then immediately leaves. We like bounce rate because it is a diagnostic metric. These visitors did not get far enough into your site for a micro or macro conversion, they left immediately. So something is wrong and high bounce rates tell you where to look.
The metrics in the Campaigns report help me understand that initial experience that people have on my site. But I also want to know whether they are converting. Are they buying product or completing micro conversions?
In the Campaigns report you can also go to different goals and see the conversion rates for your various goals.
Use the context of your business and your expectations to evaluate how these conversion metrics are doing.
For example, let’s say you sent an email to your subscribers with an offer for a 20% discount. You are really hoping to see a lot of conversions. What are a lot of conversions? The answer to the question lies in the history for those conversions. What do you typically see? Whatever it is, with your 20% off you are hoping for an improvement.
In other words, use your own business knowledge to understand the context.
Next you want to drill down inside these campaigns and look at the smaller pieces. You can click on the various campaigns and look at the various mediums or sources for those campaigns.
You’ll be able to see the various components for the campaigns and see how they are doing. Once again, you are unlikely to see any major opportunity for improvement. You are more likely to see lots of little opportunities.
Use weighted sort for more insights. When you sort for bounce rate, you are likely to see unimportant pages with a 100% bounce rate. What you’d like to see is important pages (high visits, etc.) with a high bounce rate. Weighted sort can help you do this.
It will rank the campaigns based on the bounce rate and the traffic that those Campaigns are getting. Now the items at the top of the weighted sort are the ones you should really pay attention to.
Ok, so that is how I would look at campaigns – I’d look at bounce rate against history and expectations. I’d look at conversions from the different campaigns.
Look at the Clicks tab when you go to your AdWords report. It let’s you see a Financially-based analysis. You can see how much you are spending on AdWords and how much money you are making. Where you don’t like what you see, you can segment the data and find the culprits. Perhaps its in some adgroups or keywords.
Assisted Conversions Report
Just because something did not convert or generate revenue does not mean it’s worthless.
Now we want to go into a more complicated topic and see how campaigns can be evaluated in a variety of ways. What we’ve been doing is looking at the last click and how that adds value to a conversion.
Jason likes this report because it shows you a couple of things:
- Shows a new metric called the assisted conversions metric. An assist happens when a campaign or a marketing channel drove someone to your site, but they didn’t convert today, but they might come back later and convert. Just because they don’t convert now doesn’t mean that campaign isn’t working.
- Also shows you the direct conversions from each of those channels.
The Assisted Conversions Report shows how a channel performs at assisting or direct conversions.
Now you can analyze all the micro and macro conversions on your site and look at how the different channels are affecting those conversions.
This is where we are going in analytics, we’re going from a one-visit, one-conversion approach. We’re moving to a multi-visit, multi-channel view of our data.
1. Make sure you are tracking micro and macro conversions with Goals.
2. Track ALL your marketing activities with Campaign Tracking.
3. Use Auto-Tagging to track AdWords.
4. Analyze traffic with a high bounce rate. Does it provide upper funnel value?