Google Analytics for Business: The Ultimate Guide
Google Analytics is one of the best metric monitoring tools on the market. It’s free to use, can be customised to suit your business needs and- if used correctly- can guide all of your digital decisions. Read this ultimate guide and learn how to customise your Google Analytics account and how to use the options to gleam powerful insights.
The business case for Google Analytics
As businesses pay closer attention to their online presence and the role digital plays in profitability, it stands to reason that the ultimate questions requiring answers for businesses are:
- Can online sales/objectives be measured?
- Can we effectively assess our website and social media channels?
- Can we monitor the effect of digital campaigns and use them as critical feedback for future campaigns?
- Can we attribute ‘goals’ to specific campaigns, channels or actions online?
The answer to all of the questions is yes, then Google Analytics is the perfect tool for online performance measurement and for analysing trends. Why?
- As a Google product, it’s publicly available and free to use
- Google Analytics is suitable for varying levels, which means that from an entry-level proficiency level to an advanced analytical marketer or developer, it’s suitable
- With only minor custom settings, you can maximise the usefulness of analytics to track goals, monitor social media streams and pull in data from digital campaigns like emails.
After creating an account and adding the GA code to your website pages (make sure you select the correct code) – options are:
- A single domain
- Track Adwords
- Track campaigns from non-Google products
The following are settings you can customise which align with the analytical reports and can be accessed anytime via ‘Admin’ and clicking on the website profile.
Profile settings tab
Time-zone – Set your time-zone to match. This is useful for assessing real-time visits and ensuring your reports are accurate.
If you are tracking e-commerce statistics then you make sure you tick the box here.
If you have an e-commerce website (online store), set your currency to match your country.
Google Analytics automatically records website visits from search engines like Google and Yahoo. In order to record searches visitors make within your website (via a search facility), you will need to set up ‘Site Search’.
To enable Site Search:
- Tick the box and a second box will appear.
- In this box you will need to insert code which corresponds to a search query.
The best (and easiest) way to fill this in is to ask the website developer.
Google Analytics is made up of a selection of reports with total metrics relating to particular streams. If you would like to create your own segments to Analyse and break apart these streams, then Advanced segments is the way to do that. You can select segments like Adwords traffic that leads to a conversion or traffic from a particular directory like ‘City Local’ only.
When running online and offline campaigns or making changes to your website or social accounts, a useful way to assign recognition for a peak (high point) or trough (low point) in traffic is to annotate your graph and highlight any notable activities. Activities could be an email send, optimisation on the booking flow (booking steps), changes to your LinkedIn profile or company page, a campaign launch.
Within ‘Standard Reporting’ at the top of each report, you have an option to send that particular report as an email. This saves time on logging in and means that multiple people or perhaps just management, can receive reports of interest. This section allows you to edit your scheduled emails.
Filter out staff clicks
The most important reason for using Google Analytics is that it tracks your website activity and shows you what visitors are doing – when, where and how. What you don’t need is your internal ‘testing’ or ‘checking’ website visits interfering and skewing your data. This will only inflate your metrics and provide an inaccurate set of reports.
To filter out staff clicks, you have two options – ‘Filter IP addresses’ or Filter out a Domain’. One option will usually be better than the other, and your IT staff will be able to provide advice here.
Set up goals
Never set up Analytics without setting up your goals!
Goals are your way of monitoring online objectives like:
- Number of people who contacted you via a contact form
- Number of sales made on the website / Number of sales of a category IE Women’s shoes
- Number of applications or sign ups
- Amount of people who entered a competition
- Amount of people who spent over five minutes viewing web pages
- Number people who looked at more than three pages on the website
- Number people who watched an ‘event’ like a video
- Amount of people who downloaded a PDF, white paper, report or similar
Goals can be generic or targeted. They can be set for particular time-frames to assess ad hoc projects or used to assess trends over time.
To set up a goal:
- Click on the Admin button (top right),
- The name of the website,
- Then the goals tab.
Click ‘+ Goal’ :
- URL Destination (Exact match, head match or regular expression)
- Visit Duration
These may be tricky to create accurately, so always work with your website developer to set up correctly. Also remember that your goals are actions.
Example: Your contact submission must be the page that appears AFTER it is submitted and not the actual contact page.
Add tracking code to digital campaigns
If your marketing activity consists of various digital campaigns like emails, banners and advertising, then Google Analytics has a feature which you will find handy.
You can add custom campaign parameters (extra code) that will track campaigns so that you can monitor the effect of external campaigns within your website traffic reports. This provides a more holistic view, plus gives you greater monitoring power and a way attributing goals/sales/objectives.
As opposed to just a ‘referral’ or even an ‘email referral’, custom campaign parameters can highlight the actual email creative or particular banner. If you send five emails and three are under-performing, you can assess the two that performed well and use this information to produce more effective email campaigns.
To set your parameters, enter them in the custom URL builder
Our example: http://www.ahaingroup.com/? utm_source=boards&utm_medium=banner&utm_content=social&utm_campaign=social%2Bis%2Beverywhere
Link to Adwords
By default Google Analytics groups all searches into ‘Google’, ‘MSN’ etc. When you run Adword campaigns, these are classed as search traffic.
By linking your Adwords and Analytics accounts, you can segment Adwords campaign data. This will:
- Separate your search (organic) traffic and your paid (CPC) traffic
- Merging data will give you access to a dedicated section just for Adwords (Advertising)
- Data is split so that you can drill-down into each campaign and assess – that’s campaigns, keywords, ad positions and day parts which tell you how many clicks there were every hour of the day
- Day parts – track clicks by hour of the day (this will be correct IF you selected your country in the main settings when you first created the account).
Include social media analytics
You can include social media activity by adding your social media accounts. By default, if you have a Google+ account, this will automatically record data.
You can also monitor on-site engagement by using ‘social plugins’. This will tell you what buttons they click on and what content they like and share.
Monitoring social activity adds an extra layer to your reports and when combined with goals, allows to attribute conversions to particular social platforms, discussions and updates.
Google analytics top tips
- Take the time to set your account settings up correctly and activate features which enhance your reports like site search
- Use filters to remove your internal clicks, so that data is genuine
- Learn how to set up additional analytical tasks like campaign parameters and linking Adwords data
- Integrate social and your analytical reports will provide a powerful picture of your digital marketing activity
- Set up custom dashboards and schedule emails to save on time
Understanding the Digital Economy
Social business reports
To download our industry specific and researched social business reports, click here.
If you would like to talk further about how Google Analytics can benefit your business, or if you would like The Ahain Group to help you along this path please feel free to contact us.
Ref: Google Analytics