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Archive of ‘Analytics’ category

What Should I Track in Google Analytics?

“What should I track in Google Analytics?” That’s a common question when I help new clients with their Google Analytics accounts. And my reply – which I’m sure is frustrating – is “That depends”. The amount of data available is overwhelming and I encourage people to not track every single number.  Instead I suggest a few metrics that are important for all website owners while also reminding people that they are only numbers. It’s up to us as marketers to decide what to do with those numbers.

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Getting to Know Personal Tools and Assets in Google Analytics

Hidden in the Admin area of Google Analytics, you will see a section under Views for Personal Tools & Assets. These features and reasons for exploring them area defined below.

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Segments: If you are not already familiar with segments, please read a previous post about how to use them. You can access them from the regular Reporting view, and they are also stored here in the Admin area of your account.

Annotations: I describe these as “post-it notes” in your account. You can highlight a date in your account when a significant offline event occurred. It could be after you presented to a large in-person audience or distributed a print mailing.  It’s useful for any time-specific event that may influence website behavior. These too are accessible from the reporting section under graphs as seen below or in this Admin area.

Attribution Models:  An attribution model determines how much credit each channel gets for conversions. There are a number of models already built-in to Google Analytics but you might want to create your own when you have a unique perspective on how your channels will work together. You create your model by first deciding which baseline model you want to use as your foundation: First Interaction, Last Interactions, Linear, Time Decay or Position Based. Once this is selected, you decide which rules to apply, such as the percentage of the credit you want to give to each interaction. It is confusing initially, so take advantage of the Import from Gallery option to import custom attribution models created by other users.

Custom Channel Groupings (Beta): The default channels are viewed in your Traffic Sources and include direct, organic, social, email, paid and display. For many people, that’s enough. However, you can drill into that data by creating channel groupings based on traffic source, medium, or campaign, as well as landing pages or AdWords parameters. Let’s say you are promoting a new product line on two specific channels, such as LinkedIn and Facebook. You can create a grouping called New Product, include both of those social sources with a regular expression of linkedin|facebook and include the landing page URL for the New Product page. That way, you are segmenting out your social media data for this New Product campaign.

Custom Alerts: If you are not logging into your Google Analytics account regularly, you can set up alerts to be notified when a significant event occurs on your website. An alert I recommend for everyone is “Traffic = 0”.  In other words, it notifies you if your website is not tracking any website visitors to your site. Sometimes tracking code may break when there is a site redesign or glitch with your site. This notifies you the day it happens so you can get it corrected quickly. You may also want to know when there is a significant decrease in traffic (you have a problem) versus an increase (your new campaign is doing well). You can choose a percentage (such as a 50% change) to trigger that notification.

Scheduled Emails: Like Custom Alerts, this feature is helpful for people who do not log in to Google Analytics regularly. They can receive reports weekly or monthly with key data.  If users no longer want to receive a report, you can go to the Admin section, and delete those email subscriptions.

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Shortcuts: What if you log in regularly but don’t want to constantly drill into your data with secondary dimensions and in-line filters? Once you have a view of your data in Reporting that meets your needs, you can choose the option to “Add Shortcut” which makes it available under Dashboards the next time you log in.

Share Assets: This final option lets you share the configuration of the different customizations you created in the account. It does not share any of your account data. Instead, it shares the skeleton, making it easy for others to benefit from your work.

These different features are found throughout your Google Analytics account in the Reporting screen, which is where users spend most of their time. However, this is a central place in Google Analytics for viewing the different customizations you have made.

Google Analytics for Content Marketers

When you create content, you write not only for your website visitors, but also to reach their connections so you want to make sure your content is worth sharing.  With Google Analytics, you can see what people like based on engagement metrics and how often your content is shared.  Using the below metrics can help you make decisions about which content you want to create next.

Content Grouping

An advanced feature of Google Analytics, Content Grouping, lets you aggregate your content into categories as defined by you. You determine these categories based on how you want to report out on the content people engage with on your site.  For example, if you primarily write about Google Analytics, SEO, and AdWords, you can create three groupings and see the performance of your posts by the main category they fall into.  You can create these in the Admin section of Google Analytics by defining groupings by URL and WordPress users can easily do this with a plug-in. However you set this up, you are now able to see the bigger picture with your site content.

Social Sharing

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How to Measure Behavior with Google Analytics Cohort Analysis

I introduced the Cohort Analysis in an earlier post, noting that it is a Google Analytics feature that lets you “look at a group of users based on a shared acquisition date”.  I noted that my preference has been to create segments, but I wanted to explore this beta feature in Google Analytics a bit more in this post and offer some use cases for it. You will still want to spend time getting familiar with segments because they make this feature more useful.

A Cohort Analysis is worth exploring if user retention is a key metric on your site since this feature measures behavior over time.  If you see a significant increase in traffic, this helps you determine if a cohort is responsible for the majority of that change.  You can also determine if a specific group completed an action on your site after their initial visit.

If you are interested in doing a Cohort Analysis, you can decide the size of your cohort by day, week or month; the metric (the number you want to measure), and the date range (how far back you want to analyze).  With a size of day, the cells in your resulting table will each display a single date. With a metric, you can only select one number at a time and these are displayed as columns in your table.  And the date range determines how much data will appear and corresponds to the number of rows that are in your table.

Although I primarily look at the tables, you can also view your data in a chart, which is a cumulative metric for your particular cohort. In the below example, you can see a significant drop in pageviews for each user after the initial visit, which could imply there is not enough compelling content that brings people back to the site.

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Identifying micro and macro trends

Are you wondering how a specific campaign impacted your sales? Do you also want to know if a visitor from a campaign took action immediately or came back a month later? Since your cohort groups visitors by similar dimensions (such as traffic source), you can view them by a particular source, such as Paid Traffic by selecting that segment.

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For this Paid Traffic group, session duration increases in some weeks after they first came on the site.  The darker color in each cell indicates the value of the metric when compared to other values in the table.

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Behavior by Device

You do not need to be told that a mobile-friendly site is non-negotiable for today’s businesses. But have you wondered how behavior varies on a mobile device?  Here we can see that more purchases are made in following months for desktop users than mobile users. It’s worth exploring why that could be.

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Analyzing by Channel

With segments you can select multiple channels at a time. Here we can see goal completions for this account’s paid traffic versus organic traffic. Both channels are bringing people back, but organic channels perform better when it comes to the goal completion metric.

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One of the more useful features of a Cohort Analysis is that it helps you understand how long it takes for a visitor to make a decision. These views can also help you determine if a remarketing strategy is good for your business.  If you notice that traffic declines after a certain day, you may want to start remarketing at that time.

If you discover that a Cohort Analysis is useful for your business, you can save a view as a shortcut, email it, or add it to a dashboard like you would with other reports in Google Analytics.  To reiterate, this helps you analyze group behavior on your site based on common attribution.  In my opinion, it is still limited since only Cohort Type is Acquisition Date. If Google makes other options available, it will increase the usefulness of this tool. In the meantime, use segments to drill into your data for a Cohort Analysis.

Google Analytics: The Big Picture

Since I spend a lot of time in Google Analytics accounts, I can easily get bogged down by the all the data available. Occasionally, I need a reminder to step back and look at the big picture and the overall marketing strategy for each client. What exactly are clients hoping to accomplish and what actions on their web sites will lead to meaningful outcomes? Rather than looking at numbers that are subjectively judged as “good” or “bad”, they need to be viewed in the context of the client’s big picture.

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5 Google Analytics Performance Dashboards

Google Analytics Dashboards are a great tool for my clients who do not like logging into their accounts. They often become overwhelmed with the amount of data in analytics and prefer to see data at a glance.

I have a previous post on how to use the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery for dashboards. The gallery permits you to use dashboards created by other Google Analytics users.  But even that can be overwhelming with hundreds of dashboards to choose from.

Below I’ve listed five of my favorites for measuring performance with Google Analytics. Please note that I did start with some dashboards I imported from the gallery and modified them to be a better fit for my reporting needs. Each heading below links to a dashboard you can automatically add to your account as long as you are logged into Google Analytics when you click on the link.

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Organic Search Performance

How often are people finding you through organic search?  With this dashboard, you can see the behavior of people coming to your site through organic search results. And yes, it probably will primarily be Google for your organic source, but you can see other sources of organic searches such as Bing, Yahoo, or AOL. You can also measure how this source impacts the number goals completed and pages viewed.

Paid Search Performance (AdWords)

Advertisers will definitely want to see how their paid campaigns perform when compared to other channels, such as organic or email. It’s also valuable to drill into paid campaigns to compare them to each other. Are visitors performing a desired action in one campaign more so than the others?  Although this dashboard is for AdWords, it can be modified to also view other paid campaigns, such as with Facebook or Bing.

Social Media Performance

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How to Measure Display Campaign Performance in Google Analytics

When it comes to online marketing, measuring the performance of an ad on the Display Network is similar to measuring the performance of any other traffic source, such as Search Network ads. But what needs to be considered when viewing these metrics is that display ads are often better for branding rather than a direct conversion. When you analyze your data, it is important to keep this in mind when deciding whether your display ads are worth the investment.

In general, ads on the Display Network have a slightly higher bounce rate and fewer pages per visit than other traffic sources. Users who respond to a display ad often were not looking for your product or service at the time so their response is more passive than a visitor who is actively searching for something. As a result, your visitors are somewhat interested in what you have to offer but they are not actively seeking it.  As a side note with these ads, you want to write compelling headlines, but not click-bait headlines. With a click-bait headline, visitors click only out of curiosity, not necessarily a genuine interest in what you have to offer so it is probably not worth paying for those clicks.

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With the bounce rate, you may see a bounce rate for your display campaigns of 80% whereas the bounce rate for your other sources of traffic is only 50%.  Rather than focusing on that single number of 80% for display ads, drill into this and look at the specific placements, ad copy, and and targeting methods.  Google Analytics provides this granular data about behavior by each of these dimensions.  As you drill into your data, you might find there are several placements that are responsible for the highest bounce rate which you can then exclude in your Google AdWords campaign.

Also, as you review your Google Analytics data, give a little more credit to your engagement metrics, such as pages per session, for people who come from display ads. When people arrive on your site they’re passively searching somewhere else and they spend time surfing your site, it’s a good indicator of the effectiveness of your ads on the Display Network.

The value of this initial introduction, or branding, is seen when someone does make a purchasing decision. Because they saw your ad earlier, they remember what it is that you offer and are willing to visit your site again when it comes time to make a purchase. They may bookmark your site when they reach it through a display ad to revisit at a later date when it is time to buy. Or it could be they may not even remember you when they are ready to buy, but in doing an internet search at a later date, your brand does comes back to mind when they see your results again. Keep these factors in mind when you review the performance of your display ad campaigns.

Of course, everyone who runs paid ads for a site wants to see conversions in AdWords or goal completions in Google Analytics. It makes sense. When you are using cold hard cash in your marketing, you want to see results. But when you look at completed goals with display ads, look beyond just the straight conversion metrics. Make sure you set engagement related goals which include pages per session, mentioned above, or time on site. This is also when it makes sense to have a goal value set for valuable behavior that is not revenue-generating.

Remember that your metrics for display campaigns are going to be different than your metrics on your search campaigns with fewer clear-cut conversions. This is a campaign type that is still worth using because it can attract people who have an interest in what you offer and it could get you to the top of their mind when it is time for them to make a decision about their purchase. So go ahead and try the Display Network but keep these differences in mind when reviewing your results in Google Analytics.

The Awesome Powers of Google Tag Manager

*This blog post was originally published by RSO Consulting.

If you’ve ever looked at your website analytics platform and wondered where your conversions are coming from or who is clicking on your links, then you’re probably going to be a big fan of Google Tag Manager. Not only does it save you time, but it also makes it really easy to gather exactly the types of data you want.Close-up of web analytics dashboard

Google Tag Manager is a free program that provides you with snippets of code (JavaScript and non-JavaScript) to put on your website pages. Instead of waiting weeks or months for developers to hard code, Tag Manager generates the code for you. All you have to do is embed it onto your website, and Google makes this incredibly simple, too.

Once your tags are in place, they send information to your website analytics platforms like Google Analytics or Facebook. Let’s say you want to know the number of users who are clicking through to your purchase page, and you want to know which page the clicks are coming from. You can place conversion tracking and analytics tags on your pages, which then sends this very data to your analytics platforms for assessment.

Or let’s say you only want to know when a visitor clicks on a certain button. You can set up your tags to “fire” only when a specific action is taken. Google Tag Manager gives you lots of flexibility to set up your own parameters, so you can get refined data about your website visitors.

It’s also a great accompaniment to Google Analytics. Whereas Analytics is fantastic at delivering statistics about how many people visited your website, which pages were visited or which web browsers were used, Tag Manager lets you dial in on more specific behavioral data. You can even generate user IDs, so you can gather data about specific visitors.

All of the information you can glean from Tag Manager helps you make better marketing decisions, such as where to spend your ad dollars, what type of content resonates with your audiences, and how to improve your website for an even greater user experience.

Three Strategies to Understand Visitor Intent with Google Analytics

When it comes to your website, your visitors are the ones who are in charge. With Google Analytics, you can use that data to learn what it is visitors want to accomplish. As you analyze this information, you can see if there’s any disconnect between what somebody is coming to the site for and with the site has to offer them. Here are three strategies to understand visitor intent with Google Analytics. (more…)

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