When most people think about Google Analytics, the first reports that jump to mind are often basic metrics like:

  • Visits (or sessions)
  • Pageviews
  • Bounce rate
  • Visit duration

Chances are you’re already tracking these indicators, but they aren’t telling you much. So which reports are actually going to generate valuable insights and results for your business?

Today’s post is an introduction to some underused Google Analytics features that will help you make the most of your data to generate conversions.

The Best Way to Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics is so powerful that a key challenge for today’s marketers is simply knowing which reports are worth investing time and effort into creating and understanding.

There are three key ways that a Google Analytics set-up can help your business. More on these below!

  1. Measuring campaign performance by showing where traffic is coming from
  2. Measuring outcomes (actions that you want your users to take or sales conversions)
  3. Segmenting and tracking specific audiences

By focusing on these three areas, you’ll gain the most from the time and energy you spend using web analytics.

Quick Check-In

I’m assuming that most readers of this post already have some familiarity with Google Analytics. If you don’t, you can set up analytics for first time over on the Google support page.

Whether you are starting from scratch or are already comfortable with basic analytics dashboards, you can brush up on yours skills using 21 free tutorials for Google Analytics.

1. Traffic Referrals and Campaign Performance 

Where is your website traffic coming from? What channels are worth investing in? Are all those time-consuming Facebook posts paying off?

Yes my friends, Google Analytics can help you to answer all of these questions and more.

You’ll find data on where your website traffic is coming from on the left hand side of your Analytics homepage under “Acquisition.”

Why is this so important? Once you know which outside sources are generating the most click-throughs to your website, you can direct your time and resources towards the more effective options and stop wasting time on others (or change your approach for the others).

Insightful data can often make the difference between a poorly performing campaign and a successful one.

Here’s a real life example. We recently worked with a client running a large campaign across multiple social media platforms. Using analytics midway through the campaign, our client learned that Facebook was driving over 90% of effective landing page views from social media. With this insight they were able to modify their marketing mix, becoming more effective and saving money in the process.

Key Insights from Customized Channel Groupings

Google will automatically provide you with some information on traffic referrals, organized according to the Default Channel Groupings, which shows the most common sources of traffic (like Paid Search, or Organic Search).

However, many organizations will benefit from a more granular traffic breakdown.

For example, the default channel grouping for all social media traffic is simply called Social.If you are running a campaign that includes Paid Social (like Facebook or LinkedIn ads) these won’t be segmented out under the default setup.

Happily, it’s easy to create customized channel groupings so Google Analytics can track the exact channels that are important for your business. There is a step-by-step guide here.

2. Measuring Events, Goals, and Conversions

Google Analytics is extremely powerful when you use it to track progress against key performance indicators (KPIs) and specific business goals. This post talks about events and goals in more depth, but here’s a quick overview:

An event is an action one of your website users takes. Some examples include:

  • PDF downloads
  • Video views

A goal, on the other hand, is specifically linked to a business outcome. Examples include:

  • Number of price-list downloads
  • Number of click-to-call completions
  • Number of contact form completions

You can set up Google Analytics to track pretty much any event or business goal. 

There is no upper limit on how many different actions you can track. For one of our clients, we’ve set up 16 event categories and 13 unique conversion goals, meaning stakeholders across the organization are finally able to see how their target audience interacts with specific content.

Unlike “page views” or other generic metrics, tracking specific business goals give you deep insight into how well your website or marketing strategy is performing.

Find out how to set up goals here.

3. Audience Segmentation

Google recommends using its demographic and interest reports to understand audience composition so you can focus on high-value users.

This data is really easy to see on your Google Analytics homepage. On the left hand side of the screen there is an option to click “Audience”, and a long dropdown menu including age and interests.

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Let’s look at an example.

Say your company sells outdoor gear. By looking more closely at your audience segmentation, you realize that a large number of visitors to your site are 25-34 and enjoy individual sports like running and cycling.

Now that you know more about one of your key audiences, you can use this data to inform the type of content you put on the site and make sure they’ll keep coming back.

In this hypothetical example, you might create a blog post talking about the best outdoor gear for long distance runners or cyclists and link to products likely to be in the price range of 25-34 year olds.

Another good use of audience data is to look at the location of your potential customers. For example, if you are based in Edmonton but a large segment of your users are visiting from the East Coast, you may want to rethink the timing of your posts.

The 3 Analytics Reports that Really Matter

Today’s post focused on the three key areas where Google Analytics can provide valuable business insights and drive conversions on your website:

  • Traffic Referrals & Campaign Performance
  • Outcomes: Events and Conversion Goals
  • Audience Segmentation

Have a look at these three areas and we guarantee you’ll uncover some interesting data with implications for your business and campaigns.

Let us know in the comments below if you have success (or if you use different reports and want to share!)

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