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If You Don’t Know What Google Analytics Is, You’ve Been Hiding Under A Rock

When I perform a Google Search for “Google Analytics”, I see that there are over 101,000,000 results. That’s nearly twice as many results for the term “apple pie” at 44,300,000!

From this metrics-based observation, we can conclude that “Google Analytics” is an extremely active topic on the internet and if you’re reading this blog, you probably should have at least heard of it before. *Hint: Google Analytics has something to do with numbers and inferences.

Now, if you’ve already heard about this handy dandy tool, which the Giant G has made available (for free), and don’t know how to use it effectively, then this post may help.

Google Analytics (GA) Is All About Metrics

In case you missed the not-so-subtle clues in the first section, the primary thing to know about GA is that it helps answer, in concrete numerical values and percentages, the question “How many people are visiting my site” and much, much more. This tool has become a mainstay for marketers, search engine optimizers, user experience specialists, and web developers. It informs these digital evangelists on the effectiveness of their initiatives/projects/campaigns/sales in terms of ROI. GA also lets these people know when something “has gone wonky” (yes, that’s the technical term) with their website.
Here are some examples:

  • – Traffic coming to your site from email campaigns has suddenly dropped and you’re losing money each month. Seeing this trend allowed your email marketing expert to diagnose the problem. 
  • – People only purchase downloadable products from your site between the hours of 9am-5pm. Your marketing team adjusts their campaign schedule and the conversion rate from these efforts triples
  • – You realize 30% of your traffic comes from visitors searching for multi colored widgets. Currently, you only sell green ones and decide to offer more color choices and your revenue doubles

What’s The Best Way Utilize GA

There are a lot of tutorials on setting up the tool for your website. Rather than go through those specific steps in this post, a great reference is, not surprisingly, Google’s Setup Checklist.

Sure the setup is a crucial piece of the puzzle and there are more advanced options you can include in your configuration of Google’s tool like Google Tag Manager, Google Merchant Center, and Remarketing. However, the basic steps of getting Google Analytics set up and connected to Webmaster Tools (so your webmaster can see extra detail into search traffic and how the site is seen in the eyes of a robot) are not the primary directives here.

Ok, so you’re setup. Now What?

For starters, make some goals with your team. What are the key performance indicators (KPI) for your working group, company, and campaigns. For example, the marketing team may have a goal to increase newsletter signups from your website. Great goal! Now we can setup tracking for that specific goal in Google Analytics. Your sales team might even have a calculation of how many new newsletter subscriptions equal an eventual sale in their cycle. This monetary value can be associated with the newsletter signup metric in GA and used for forecasting. Even better, the sales team and the web team are now exchanging high fives for better forecasting models and the lunchroom is less of a battle zone.

Ever heard a marketer or product line manager ask “what’s our target customer”? No matter who that target is, GA can give demographic insight into whether or not your products and marketing efforts are actually reaching that 20-something in Arizona that’s interested in water conservation and might be convinced to sign your petition. No kidding, there’s a whole section of reports on demographic and interests of your site’s visitors.

Are you trying to highlight a new product and have a specific landing page where your campaigns are directing visitors? Wouldn’t it be neat to see how many people stayed on the site after getting there and what other content they visited while there? Think I’m going to tell you that you can do that with Google Analytics? Well, you are racking up the gold stars, my friend.

The possibilities of nerding out to metrics is truly unlimited with GA.

Monitor, Monitor, Monitor

The most important part of any effort to gain insight via metrics is to monitor your goals and metrics over time. What are the difference between traffic during the summer and the holiday season. If you upgraded your homepage two months ago, what impact has that had on your traffic and are you considering the year over year trends to give a comprehensive diagnosis of successes and challenges?

Yes, Google Analytics provides all sorts of charts and fandangled ways to look at the numbers for your site and they are always available. However, one of the best way to zero in on specific KPIs is to create your own internal report or spreadsheet that consistently looks at the same digestible metrics every week, two weeks, or each month. This can be shared throughout the office without having to train everyone on the nuances of Google Analytics and provide valuable information to other teams about the effectiveness of their amazing ideas. It’s the snapshot of the forest through the trees and gets the conversation started for all the SWOT analysis meetings to come.

Google Analytics is truly an amazing tool for gathering and monitoring important information about your site visitors.  The fact that this powerful tool is completely free and relatively easy to use makes it a no brainer that every site should be utilizing it.

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