From small business owners to global enterprises, digital campaign tracking has become a vital part of a brand strategy to measure success. We are now living in a magical wonderland of digital optimizing tools that can make or break your marketing campaigns.
No longer do you have to guess how a page visitor was lead to your website or what drew them to convert. The age of floating aimlessly around the unknown waters of online marketing is gone! We have entered into a new era, and Google Analytics is your compass to the promised land.
Demand Metric recently reported that over 60% of brands use Google Analytics as one of their digital marketing tactics. Is your brand using Google Analytics? And if so, is your brand using the tool to its full potential? Whether you are new to Google Analytics, want a refresher course or just want to read the latest news in digital data tracking, here are five steps to jumpstart your Google Analytics account.
Step 1: Get your account up and running
Who better to tell you how to get started than the good people at Google? Stasia Kudrez, President of SEM Training at Google, walks you through the basics in her video below.
Krudrez’s video now has over a half a million views, but when you hear the next statistic, you will understand why that is not so shocking. According to Forrester Research, 84% of US marketing decision-makers are currently using or expanding their use of web analytics. Of the 16% remaining, 12% state that they are not using currently, but plan to implement within 12 months.
Google lays out the Google Analytics startup process in four easy steps after you create your account:
- Add a tracking code to your site to collect user data
- Define goals to identify the critical actions users need to take action on your site
- Link your Analytics and AdWords accounts so that you can evaluate your marketing
- Look at the reports to better understand the performance
Forbes magazine recently wrote that with the advent of tools such as Google Analytics, it is now possible to track how a visitor came across your site, the length of time the visitor stayed and what kind of content or keywords kept them there. The battle is getting your account up and running so that you can start to take advantage of the benefits. Google’s YouTube and ‘Analytics Help’ page are great resources to bookmark and reference frequently.
Step 2: Learn what to track
No matter what you are tracking (webpage traffic, bounce rate or goal conversions), the only way to evaluate website performance is to track your website analytics accurately. But do you know what you are tracking? Here are a few must-track items on your account.
Key Google Analytics terms you should know:
Category: Cause & Effect
- Pageviews - Found under Behavior, pageviews measure how often a specific page is visited.
- Users – User reports measure how many people visited your site (previously called unique visitors).
- Events - Can be any action you want to track on a webpage. For example, you could track how often a file is downloaded or a video is played.
Category: Know Your Dashboards
- Channels - Found under Acquisition, channels group your data based on common sources of traffic, like paid search or direct.
- Campaigns - Also found under Acquisition, campaigns allow you to view tagged traffic coming into your site (ex- an AdWords or an email campaign).
- Sessions - Included on multiple reports, sessions track how often your site was visited, and what actions were taken during each visit. (They were previously called “Visits.”)
Category: Mission Accomplished
- Conversions - Are achieved when site visitors complete their end goal, like downloading a PDF, making a purchase or submitting a form.
- Assisted Conversions – Summarize how different channels (traffic sources) contribute to a conversion.
- Goals – Quantify your success rate by setting goals that accurately reflect the actions you want site visitors to accomplish.
Category: Where’d It Come From?
- Cookie – Refers to a small piece of code that remembers visitors and their preferences, when they are on your website.
- Tracking Code – Small snippet of computer code that is inserted into the body of any webpage that you want to gather analytic data for; this captures information about visits to a page.
- Parameters – Tags added to the end of the URL in order to better define and track what source the traffic to your website is coming from.
Category: Stuck In Traffic
- Query - The word or phrase a user enters into a search engine to find your website.
- Keywords - The words that visitors used to find your website when using a search engine. This information shows you what searchers are actually looking for when they find you.
- Organic Traffic – Visitors who come to your website by clicking on the unpaid search engine results.
Category: Rates May Vary
- Engagement Rate – The length of time a visitor spends on your website, measured in time intervals. (Also known as Average Session Duration)
- Click-Through-Rate (CTR) – The number of clicks your website receives in search engine results pages divided by the number of impressions your listings get.
- Bounce Rate – Measures the percentage of site visitors viewing only one page on your site before leaving. (They enter and leave on the same page without any type of interaction.)
Step 3: Read the guides
There are a plethora of information and how-to guides to all things digital analytics. Here are a few of the best guides available to find tips and tricks to Google Analytics.
- Google Analytics Academy: Learn platform principles, Tag Manager and digital analytics fundamentals.
- Google Analytics vs Google Analytics 360: Compare Google Analytics and Google Analytics 360 to decide platform is best for your brand.
- The Ultimate Guide To Google Analytics: Learn how to publish the right content that attracts new customers and extract numbers that drive action.
- Getting Valuable Marketing Data Out of Google Analytics (Infographic): How to improve your marketing efforts and increase your website traffic by effectively analyzing your data.
Step 4: Audit your Google Analytics account
Even after reading, watching or listening to the top best practices of Google Analytics, you may want to double check that you set up your account correctly using your new-found digital tracking skills.
The Unified Analytics for Modern Marketing Report from IDG Connect recently stated that 79% of marketing executives use marketing analytics tools to measure campaign performance. But even Google admits that there are several common errors you may encounter that leave you with less than stellar and fairly innacurate reporting. Incorrect filters, unpublished containers and customization errors can all wreak havoc on your reporting if not set up properly.
That’s why auditing your Google Analytics account early and often is crucial to measuring the performance of your marketing initiatives. To be successful and gain a stronger digital marketing presence, your analytics must be accurate and reliable to guide your strategy in the right direction.
With Google Analytics you can better understand your existing data, learn if your website is capturing your visitor’s interests and driving them to take action. By undergoing a comprehensive Google Analytics audit, you will ensure that your analytics account is set up properly and captures your visitor data accurately.
What should you audit?
- Technical tracking requirements not correctly set up
- Evaluate what is working well and what is not
- Check profile configuration settings
- Monitor common configuration errors
- Determine if all common features are utilized
- Review tracking errors to improve SEO
The audit process is all about getting to know your customer habits better. After completing an audit you should be able to collect website performance insights and engineer an improvement strategy to optimize your marketing campaigns.
Step 5: Take action!
According to KissMetrics, “Google Analytics will help you get the most out of your analytics information to improve your website’s content, user experience, and ultimately bring traffic and conversions.”
Learn from the first four steps and start utilizing Google Analytics for your brand. Measure the effectiveness of your website through your data and take action to start maximizing your search engine reach. Because after all, in the words of Sir William Thomson, “If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.”
And who couldn’t use a boost in web traffic, engagement and new customers?