Often when I’m speaking with clients or prospects, I’ll ask, “Are you using Google Analytics?”, and in most cases, I’ll receive the following replies..
- “We do, but not properly”
- “I think so, I’m not sure. I’d have to check with our web guy”
- “Yes, but we don’t really understand it. What should we be looking for?”
Responses like these tell me immediately that the business owner is in trouble. Because if they don’t know what’s going on in the back end (data etc) then there’s no way in hell they’ll have any idea of what’s going on anywhere else.
Google Analytics is usually something that business owners install, but have no idea why – or what to do with it, once they have. So in this article, I’m going to share with you 5 key features of Google Analytics that you should be using, and why.
But before doing so, I’m going to answer the biggest question of all…..
Why do I even need Google Analytics?
Y’know what? You don’t. You can run your website without out it, but that would be incredibly stupid – especially if you want to make calculated decisions aimed towards improving your bottom line. Which brings me to my next point.
I hear business owners using words like “I think”, or “I reckon”, or “I feel that…”
In most cases, they’re completely wrong. And that’s dangerous, because they’re guessing.
Instead of continually assuming, guessing, or worse – hoping, that something you change or implement on your website “might work”, the data of which Google Analytics provides, will help guide you towards making better, more informed decisions. This means, instead of wondering, “Hey, I wonder if running these Facebook ads are really helping us?”, or “I wonder if changing the wording on this page has made any real differences?” – the data inside Google Analytics will TELL YOU.
Without this data, you are flying blind. With no idea of what’s going on.
There’s some data here somewhere…
You can only make improvements and move in the right direction when you know WHAT’S WORKING.
In essence, the data that Google Analytics provides is what will ensure that you’re making improvements to your website and heading in the right direction.
Otherwise, it’s likely you’ll just be guessing. You should only ever be making changes inline with factual data.
Okay, now that I’ve covered that, let’s take a closer look at five key features of Google Analytics that I think you should get your head around.
5 features of Google Analytics you should use right now
I put this at number one because this is without a doubt – THE most important feature of Google Analytics there is.
If you’re not tracking conversions, then you’re essentially dead in the water. At the end of each month, you should be able to login (or view your monthly report) and say, “This month we got most of our conversions from Youtube”, or “Our Facebook marketing campaign is converting well at 5%”. Instead, when I ask most prospects what their conversion rates are, they’ll respond with “We don’t know”.
One of the best, and most important things you can do with Google Analytics is to use it to track conversions.
How do I setup goals?
- Log into Google Analytics
- Choose the website you want to track
- Click on the “Admin” button up the top
- Under “View” click on “Goals”
- Then click on “New Goal”, and follow the bouncy ball.
I can’t squeeze in an entire tutorial about setting up goals in Analytics here in this blog post, but you might like to check out one I published recently that demonstrates how to do it for WooCommerce.
Here’s how goals appear in Google Analytics.
Here’s a really simple, yet useful feature of Google Analytics – and that is what’s known as “annotations”. Annotations are a great way to make quick notes against changes that may have been made on the website. For instance, if you’ve changed the design of your homepage, or you’ve shifted hosts, or something else of that nature – then it would make sense to make a note of those changes within Google Analytics.
Because, when you make a change on your website, you’ll want to note the time of when that change was made. So that if things go pear shaped (your traffic falls off a cliff, or something else breaks) then you can log back into Analytics and say, “Aha, this happened because of that change we made on XYZ day”. Without that in place, you’ll be scratching your head trying to figure out what’s going on.
Alternatively, if things improve dramatically, you’ll also be able to look at annotations and say, “Hey, that change we made last month has had a positive impact on our traffic, it’s up 30%”
Here’s how annotations look.
Chances are, you’ll be promoting your site across a number of different channels. They might include, Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Youtube. Of course, there might be more, but for this example, let’s just say you’re using those ones. When you log into Google Analytics, how on earth would you know which ones are actually performing well?
The answer lies in what are known as “campaigns”.
Campaigns are a little bit different, in that, they drill down in the data a bit further – therefore giving you more information. For example, lets say I sold something on my website, and the conversion came from Youtube. Wouldn’t it be great to know EXACTLY which video on Youtube contributed towards that conversion? This is where campaigns are powerful.
Campaigns can be found under Acquisitions > Campaigns.
TIP – In order to use campaigns within Google Analytics, you need to be using what are known as “trackable links”.
Here’s a screenshot from this site.
4. Automated reports
One of the best features of Google Analytics are definitely automated reports. Essentially, you can create a report, (or select a default report) and have it emailed to you whenever you like. Whether it be weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. This is a great way to keep up to date with how your site is performing, because you don’t have to “remember” to log in and check. Instead, the report hits your inbox automagically.
Here’s how it looks below, and here is the Google article which shows you how to go about setting it up.
5. Traffic diversity
This isn’t so much of a feature, but I rank this highly on a “keep an eye on it” type thing – and that is, where your traffic is coming from.
Google Analytics will give you a nice little pie graph to look at, that displays your traffic sources. This is a great visual of where your traffic is coming from. What’s important to note here, is the percentage of traffic you are receiving from Google. If it’s very high 90% and up, then you’ll want to start diversifying your traffic sources for redundancy. If you know me, you’ll know that I always talk about the importance of diversifying your traffic sources.
A good pie chart is multi coloured, with traffic coming in from a balanced range of sources. You can view this by going to Acquisitions > Overview
Ready to get your Analytics on?
You can get started by heading over to Google Analytics at Google. And yes, it’s free.