The social media is a translucent behemoth that continues to overwhelm digital marketers since it became popular a few years ago. The return on social media marketing is not so easy either, mostly because we don’t really know what tools to use. As the Internet’s role in marketing grows, quantifying social media ROI is becoming essential. Google Analytics too, as we know it, can help digital marketers make intelligent decisions on social media analytics and how to grow your business quickly in today’s online world. Here we describe some great GA hacks that will help you put analytics data and reports to better use:
#1 Understand the basic terminology
Begin with understanding the basic Google Analytics terminologies like bounce rate, exit rate and conversion rates. You can learn more about these metrics by hovering your mouse over them, as shown in the image below.
Or you can refer to this exhaustive cheat sheet below that’s created out of Google Analytics Glossary 2015:
# 2 Get a Hang of the Dashboard
Each view in your Google Analytics account displays a default Dashboard (called “My Dashboard”) that is pre-populated with a number of widgets showing your site’s traffic as measured via certain key metrics and dimensions. If you think you need refer to certain data points more than others, make sure these are the first thing you see after logging into Google Analytics. And the best way to do it is by customizing your Dashboard.
Google Analytics allows you to create multiple dashboards within a few clicks. Besides, you can customize each dashboard using widgets of your choice. Here is how you can create a new dashboard.
- Go to Dashboards from the Menu bar (on the left of the screen) of your Analytics account.
- Click on New Dashboard to begin.
- Go to Add Widget to choose your desired widgets
Depending on the kind of data you are working on, you can choose widgets which show a particular metric, a timeline of one or two metrics or a pie or bar chart comparing different metrics. Take a look at these custom dashboards to give you a headstart.
#3 Implement Google Analytics on Staging Environment First
When dealing with analytics, things can go wrong more often than you think. Thus, testing is the most crucial part in whole web analytics process. It is best to test Google Analytics in a staging environment before beginning to analyse a live website. Ensure that you set up a separate view during the testing phase. This is where we shall use the Google Analytics’ Filters feature. Filters allow you to limit and modify the data that is included in a view. Here’s how you can do it:
Go to admin and click on ‘Filters’. A screen opens up to the right where you can begin with clicking on ‘New Filter’. Add Filter Name. It’s best to include the Staging Hostname here.
Select custom filter type, set ‘Hostname’ in the Filter Field and add the URL of your staging site in the filter pattern. Fill out other requisite details and hit Save.
Various online tools like Web Analytics Solution Profiler, Ghostery, Google Analytics (GA) Tag Assistant, GA Debugger, and Fiddler can simplify the debugging process for you.
#4 Avoid Tracking Yourself
As paranoid website owners, we often tend to visit our sites frequently to debug, ensure everything is working alright or to plainly update them from time to time. Though there’s nothing wrong about it, you might be skewing your analytics considerably. So it’s best to set up filters to exclude yourself or your team from the Analytics data. Here’s how you can do it:
- Go to Admin > All Filters > Add New Filter
Identify your IP address and those of your team’s. Now set a predefined filter and exclude any traffic coming from these addresses.
#5 Know Where Your Audience Is & What They Look For
If you have ever tried setting up ads using Google or Facebook, you are often asked if your ad is focused on a specific geography or it’s targeted worldwide. Google Analytics helps you decide this, by letting you know which part of the world your best visitors are coming from. You can get this bit of info by looking under the Audience section on the Menu bar, select Geo and then click on Location.
Here you can see various metrics, filtered country-wise, including number of new sessions, average session duration and bounce rate. Once you know where your maximum visitors are from, you can target and customize your ads and marketing campaigns accordingly.
Another important thing is to successfully market your business online by looking at what your users are searching for once they land on your site. This is even more important, if you have a search box on your site. To get this info, look for Behavior on the Menu bar and select Site Search from the drop down.
Go to Overview to see what percentage of visits on your site came via the search box. Under the Search Terms section you’ll find the exact terms people are searching for, and which term is harnessing the maximum visits.
This will help you determine if people can actually find what they are looking for on your site or if you need to be more specific in the kind of information you are providing.
#6 Set up Webmaster Tools for your Site
The Google Webmaster tool suite gives you insights such as index issues, click data, keyword impression, manual spam actions and links pointing to your site that even GA cannot offer. By connecting these tools to your analytics accounts, you can access new reports like Landing Pages, Queries and Geographical Summary.
The video below tells you how to connect Webmaster Tools to your Google Analytics account:
#7 Determine If you Need to go Mobile-First
In today’s market scenario, having a mobile presence is imperative to success. But to truly understand its influence on your business’s digital footprint, you need to know exactly how many visitors are accessing your content on your mobile site. To do that:
Go to Audience on the Menu bar. Click on Mobile.
This will give you an insight into the types of devices that most of your visitors are using to access your content. To know details like device brand, mobile operator, operating system and other insights, see the Device section under Mobile.
# 8 Convert More with GA Funnels
Funnels help you get a better hang of conversions by converting your visitor footprint into visual data. You can determine how the customers are getting at any step, test which copy style is impacting their behaviour during sign up or while making a purchase, or determine any bugs that might be hampering user flow.
Here’s how you set up Funnels in Google Analytics:
First, set up a Goal. You can’t set up funnels without having a goal.
Go to the Admin tab and click on Goals. Create a Goal. Add details like name and URL. Select the Match Type as Exact Match. Enter a value for the Goal, even if it is unmonetized. This helps GA calculate Per Visit Goal value and other metrics.
To set up a Funnel, turn ON the Funnel toggle button before you save the goal. Enter URLs and names of the funnel steps, something like this:
/catalogue.php – Product Catalogue
/description.php – Product Description
/enquiry.php – Form
You can now refer to the Funnel Visualization report to see the performance of this funnel.
#9 Know How your Mobile App is Performing
Google Analytics help you track the performance of your mobile app too! Its easy-to-use reports and SDKs let you measure the number of users for your app, know where they are coming from, evaluate their characteristics and measure their actions. You can also keep a track of in-app purchases and revenue and visualize user navigation path.
For every app you want to track, you’ll need to add an app property to your Google Analytics account. GA will automatically generate a tracking id for each property you add.
Here’s how you set up a new property. Go to the Admin Tab. Under the Account section, click on Create New Account.
Go to the Mobile App tab. Fill out all relevant details like Account Name, App Name, Industry Category and Reporting Time Zone.
Add preferable Data Sharing settings.
Click on Get Tracking ID
Give this tracking ID to your app developer, who’ll download the Google Analytics SDK and add this tracking ID while setting it up for your app.
#10 Don’t Trust Averages
Averages lie! Whether it’s the average conversion rate or the bounce rate, you must keep averages in perspective to get actionable insights. For instance, don’t worry if your average conversion rate is at three percent. What makes up this three percent is all that matters. You may look at this in terms of the following metrics:
- CR per device category (mobile, tablet, desktop)
- CR per day of week
- CR per landing page
- CR per visitor type (new, returning)
- CR per traffic source
The truth is this: the three percent is neither good nor bad. It’s all about segmentation, i.e. which metric is contributing how much to this percentage. Evaluate the above listed metrics and understand where can you improve. Whether you need to target users having a particular device or you need to focus more on catering users coming from a certain source.
#11 Email Weekly Reports
Set up the GA dashboard to send out periodic analytics reports via email. This way you don’t end up messing up your GA dashboard. You can email these reports to as many email IDs as you want. Here’s how you do it:
- Specify a date range such as ‘Last week’ or ‘Last 30 Days’ for the report you’d like to receive.
- Click on ‘Email’ on the upper-left corner
- You may also want to save it as a Shortcut for future reference by clicking on ‘Shortcut’
#12 Remember to Check for Browser Differences
Your audiences will access your site through different browsers. Thus, it becomes imperative to keep a track of the site’s performance across all major browsers like IE, Firefox, Opera and Chrome. GA gives you the perfect opportunity to do so.
Go to Audience > Technology > Browser and OS
Here you can check the bounce rates and load time for each browser. If a certain browser doesn’t look good, it can be indicative of a possible formatting or loading error.