This post is not intended to be technical in nature (as most of our Google Analytics blogs typically are) but rather eye opening, matter of fact and timely. In speaking recently with many different types of companies (large, small, ecommerce, lead generation) there seems to be one commonality, at least when it comes to analytics. Very few are utilizing their web stats in the manner in which they could/should be. The reason? From what I keep hearing, it is largely due to the following: time constraints and/or lack of knowledge of the Google Analytics platform itself.
Let’s address the time factor first. The majority of people would agree that there is never enough time in any given day, week, month or year and as a result, certain “to do’s” get pushed to the back burner, or are forgotten altogether. Most companies feel it would take too much time to focus on their analytics data, but this is untrue. GA offers custom reports that can easily be set up and automatically sent (via email) at the frequency you desire. There is no need to waste unnecessary time aimlessly searching through GA’s (robust) interface to try to find the information you need. You have the ability to include only the metrics of your choice, with the pertinent information grouped together right in one place. Some examples of the metrics our clients have pulled into custom reports:
Google Analytics describes these reports as: “Custom reports are like super reports. You can spend literally minutes building one to show just the information you want to see. It’s like your own personal dashboard.”
Now that we have addressed the time factor, let’s focus on the lack of knowledge. Many companies simply feel that they do not understand enough about the GA platform and are overwhelmed by the wealth of information available. Well, look no further than our very own.
GA Blog for the latest and greatest that GA has to offer. You can refer back to previous articles, as well as view posts by specific category, month or year. Another excellent resource is our Knowledge Center. Here you will find informative, time sensitive Webinars with a section dedicated solely to GA. Our most recent GA Webinar is How To Avoid The Most Common Mistakes in Google Analytics.
In addition, MoreVisibility is one of a select few companies to be named a Google Analytics Certified Partner (GACP) and employ Google Analytics (GA) on our corporate website, as well as provide training, support and consultation to our clients utilizing the GA interface.
I find it perplexing that more marketers have not set aside the time and budget to gain a better understanding of what is actually occurring on their website(s). Doing so would afford them the ability to make educated decisions relative to allocation of online advertising dollars. In today’s challenging marketplace, every dollar counts more than ever. You want to ensure that your analytics code has been added to the site properly and that your data is being collected correctly. Otherwise you are likely spinning your wheels and relying on poor and/or inaccurate data, which can be extremely detrimental to your overall online marketing initiatives. Take the time to not only learn what your analytics platform can provide, but also ensure that the website is coded correctly and with the most up to date version of GA available.
I still get clients every now and again who clearly do not understand the importance of tracking their website activity. I will say that it happens much less frequently (than it used to) which is likely a sign of the times. Given the current state of the economy, every dollar spent is being scrutinized more than ever and being able to show what you got for that dollar has become increasingly important. Nevertheless, I find it baffling when a client clearly does not recognize how mission critical it is to track website activity.
Let’s go back to the basics! What will an analytics tool tell you? For starters:
The above list essentially covers the basic information that any analytics tool will provide. Furthermore, the accuracy of all of these metrics will depend on whether or not the site has been coded properly and with the correct parameters. In other words, bad coding = bad data.
If you are not already utilizing an analytics platform to track visitor activity, you are definitely behind the curve, however, don’t let that defer you from getting on the right track now. The first step is deciding which analytics tool to utilize, as there are many to choose from. As mentioned in previous posts, we use Google Analytics internally, as do many of our clients.
In addition to recommending Google Analytics (GA) to our client base, we utilize GA as our analytics platform to track our internal web stats, as well. We are one of a few select companies to be named a Google Analytics Certified Partner (GACP) and according to Google “Certified Partners are carefully vetted by Google and meet rigorous qualification standards”. We are very proud of this honor and continue to educate clients (both large and small) on the ins and outs of GA.
Once GA is implemented onto a website, marketers suddenly find themselves with a wealth of knowledge and information they never had before. I get asked the same question over and over, which boils down to: What should I be looking for? While GA is extremely user friendly, especially compared to other platforms available today, it‘s also remarkably robust, thus making it (seem like) a daunting task to sift through all of the available data. You can literally get lost in GA for hours, discovering new and valuable information pertaining to your web stats. That being said, what should you be looking for? If brand new to GA, I find it a good exercise to simply start with the dashboard. As you become more comfortable, it will be less overwhelming to dive deeper into all of the reports GA has to offer.
GA defines their dashboard as “your customizable collection of report summaries”. Below is a screenshot from GA, which shows some of the default metrics; they can be arranged according to individual user preferences. Each metric can be clicked on in order to get more granular. Although the dashboard is rather basic, there are still a ton of valuable insights such as: Avg. time on site, bounce rate, pageviews, new visits, pages per visit, etc. The Map Overlay feature is particularly useful in determining where your site traffic originates from, plus which areas are converting into sales, leads, etc. You can drill all the way down to city.
All in all, GA is a comprehensive (not to mention free) tool that will prove to be mission critical in determining which online initiatives are fruitful for your business and which could be replaced. Every dollar counts and you ought to be armed with as much knowledge about your web stats as possible. If you have not already done so, check out our analytics page now and get started!