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How well do you know your data?

Maximise your measurement with Google Analytics

Do you know what your website visitors do on your website? What do they search for? How many pages does it take for them to convert? What websites are they often referred from? Which of your digital marketing activities is actually converting your customers, and more importantly, which is not?

These are all important questions which you can use to gain valuable insight into your customers using Google Analytics, the free tool from Google used by over 70% of websites on the internet. So many of us rely solely on general overview statistics like page views and bounce rate (the number of people who leave your website without visiting another page) but how much do these standalones statistics really tell us? What does this collected data actually tell you about your website and digital marketing efforts?

There are plenty of online tutorials available to help you understand the basics of Google Analytics and how to use it on your website, but these simple tips and tricks below should help to ensure that you are utilising this valuable tool efficiently, and that your digital marketing measurement is giving you the data you need to make informed decisions to benefit the digital marketing strategy for your business.

Create a Measurement Plan

Having a measurement plan in place for your business is great advice for any marketer serious about improving the performance of their digital marketing activities. Firstly, you need to establish your objectives, is it to improve brand awareness of a new product, or maybe to gain a bigger social media following? Next, think about the channels you’ll be using to promote this – e.g. PPC, Social Media. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or SMART objectives should also be agreed as markers of the digital marketing campaign’s success. And lastly, make a list of what metrics you will look at to support your measurement – will a rise in social media impressions show clear evidence of success, or perhaps an increase in the number of new sessions will demonstrate success? Choose your metrics and monitor them closely to track your progress towards your marketing goals.

Make sure to use filters

If you’re getting thousands of hits to your website but many of these are from yourself and your team updating and referring to your website for information then you’re not getting accurate data and this is skewing your vision of how things are performing. This is where filters are a really useful tool; with filters you can block visits from your office IP address, visits coming from your staff intranet site and other sources from being included in your data for a much more accurate perception of your traffic and its behavioural trends.

Set up monthly reports via email

Unless your job is largely focused around measuring traffic behaviour and data analysis, it’s unlikely that you spend time regularly delving in your Google Analytics data to understand customer trends. It’s important however, to set a schedule and check these statistics regularly to help you spot any spikes or dips in your traffic, and understand why these could have occurred. Google Analytics enables you to set up and schedule quick and easy reports which arrive to your inbox every day, week, month or quarter (we recommend setting up the monthly report). That way, you are prompted every month to review your figures, and can spot any issues before they become bigger problems to your business.

Benchmarking

Google Analytics has a tool called “Benchmarking” (under the Audience tab) which allows you to quickly compare your data to other similar businesses within your area.  To use this tool you must have selected an "Industry Category" when you set up your account, or you can update this in the admin panel under Property Settings. This convenient tool highlights in red or green whether your account is higher or lower than the category average for each metric e.g. sessions, bounce rate and more. This can be a great indicator of your position amongst competitors and provide a realistic baseline for making improvements to your website.

Linking with Google Search Console

If you’re at all familiar with Google Analytics you’ll know that when it comes to providing data on the actual words people searched for before arriving on your website this is often shown as "(not provided)". In fact, over 95% of organic traffic search terms are hidden or ‘not provided’ in Google Analytics. Linking your account with Google Search Console (previously Webmaster Tools) can help shed some light on this, by providing a list of words that users have searched for, and keywords that you are ranking for, as well as full lists of valid external links (other websites linking to your website).

Search Console is also a great tool for spotting any errors which could be affecting your traffic which may need flagged with your website developer. Make sure to submit your website’s sitemap on Search Console which prompts Google to crawl the entire site and index its pages, as well as note any URL errors, security issues or other areas which could be affecting its performance.

Set up goals to track website conversions

Goals are used in Google Analytics to track how often users complete a specific action on your website. In the case of e-commerce websites this could be making a purchase, and for others it could be making an enquiry (a sales lead) using your contact form. No matter what the goal, it’s important to measure how many people carry out the action you want them to complete before leaving your website. Each of these goals are worth money to your business, and your digital marketing activities should all be focused towards increasing these conversions. Goals on Google Analytics are quick and easy to set up, and will clearly show how your site is performing with your customers. 

Segment your Audience

Perhaps you only want to look at mobile users and how they behaved whilst visiting your website? Or perhaps you want to look at each location separately to understand different audience behaviour in the UK vs USA vs China? Whatever your requirement Segments allow you to separate a portion of your users and group them by different dimensions to better understand what your data is telling you. By default, each metric you look at is set to display results for “All Users”, so simply create the rules which form your segments then change this parameter to get a more accurate view to support your theories and recommendations. 

There are so many clever features in Google Analytics for measuring your digital marketing activities that it’s surprising they allow everyone to use it for free (for the moment at least). The data and insight to be gained from how your users find you, to how they behave whilst on your site can and should heavily influence your digital marketing strategy and where you invest your marketing budget for gaining new customers and growing your business. In the end it’s all about understanding exactly who your customer is, and how best to engage with them at the right time, in the right way and using the right medium.


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