A Marketers Guide to Google Analytics

Every online marketer needs to have a solid understanding of Web Analytics to conduct successful, data-driven campaigns. We’re fortunate to have a dedicated and highly skilled analytics team here at Covario to help us conduct deep dives into our clients’ data, as well as sophisticated Rio SEO Search Analytics software to help us track and analyze data, but knowing the basics of popular platforms like Google Analytics is a must for all team-members. To that end, I recently put together a presentation on setting up and getting the most out of Google Analytics, which I’ve embedded above.  Whether you’re an in-house marketer or work for an agency, taking some time to get trained and become familiar with the advanced features of Google Analytics is bound to pay huge dividends in your future. This post contains some specifics on how you can get more out of Google Analytics, regardless of where you are at in your digital marketing initiatives today.

Setting KPIs
Your key performance indicators (KPIs) are critical to planning campaigns and determining promotional calendars for the year; without them, you have no goals to aim for. A good KPI should focus on outcomes and align with your business goals, and it’s nearly impossible to set good KPIs without using data. Armed with your knowledge of the industry, your competition, your company, your Google Analytics data, and your business objectives, you can work with your analytics team and subject matter experts to formulate strategic KPIs. Once KPIs are established, you can now begin to plan your campaigns, allocate budget, and define your strategy for the year.

Areas to focus on in GA for KPI Tracking: Setting up goals and funnels in the administration section will be your first step, and then you’ll want to be monitoring the Conversions category within the standard reports to make sure everything is tracking correctly. You’ll also want to create customized dashboards with goal and KPI metrics included for each stakeholder, as well as create custom reports for each service line lead to monitor and optimize performance of the areas they’re responsible for.

Tracking Marketing and Campaign Performance
Once KPIs are agreed upon, tracking performance against those KPIs is critical to managing expectations. If performance is lagging, the question is why? What else can be done? If you’re outperforming KPIs – great! But is the budget running over budget, too? You should be monitoring performance closely and working with your team to address any shortcomings or issues proactively before they become unmanageable.

Areas to focus on in GA for campaign performance tracking: Check your Google Analytics dashboard(s) daily, and make sure your service line leads are checking their custom reports regularly as well. The traffic sources category within the standard report suite will also be helpful in determining what channels and campaigns are performing above or below expectations. Next, be sure to use campaign tracking parameters in URLs to track performance of social media, display, PPC and email campaigns so you can track these campaigns separately.  Lastly, you’ll want to use event and e-commerce tracking for on-site action tracking so your data is granular enough to know what’s working and what isn’t.

Achieving Synergy
Identifying opportunities for your team to work more efficiently and collaboratively will be appreciated by everyone, so pay close attention to funnel and conversion path reports to identify and capitalize on cross-channel synergy.

Areas to focus on in GA for synergy:  For the most part, you’ll be working in the traffic sources and conversions categories of reports, as well as any custom reports you setup. Here you’ll want to be comparing different traffic sources side-by-side to look for areas of overlap and how to improve these further, areas of missing overlap to build out additional coverage, and conversion rate metrics to determine which channels are performing best and what learnings we can take away from these campaigns to apply to other mediums that aren’t performing as optimally.

Bringing Innovation
A mature account or campaign can be hard to grow, as the low hanging fruit has already been plucked. That’s when deep-dive analytics comes to the rescue – finding new opportunities can be a win-win for everyone. Leverage your analytics team and subject matter experts to help you better understand the trends and opportunities, but review the data close enough that you can ask probing questions and know how the account strategy is aligning with actual performance metrics.

Areas to focus on in GA for innovation: Look at your audience reports section to get a greater understanding of your visitors and how you can meet their needs better (creating new content, enriching experiences, or even just better connecting existing content with them). Next, check out pages with high bounce rates, high abandonment rates, or other areas of low conversion and start conducting some A/B testing to try to improve conversions. Lastly, dig through content reports to find gaps in existing content, opportunities to expand/replicate high performing content, and other content marketing insights for your client or brand.

Exercising Wise Judgment and Communicating Clearly
Knowing the data through-and-through, and carefully monitoring performance, will enable you to provide more insightful judgment and communicate more clearly to all stakeholders when faced with critical decision points. When everyone on your marketing team is reviewing the same data on a regular basis, discussing trends is easier and actions become more transparent. It is imperative the entire team has at least a basic understanding of the data and trends your website is experiencing to communicate and coordinate your marketing activities.

Areas to focus on in GA for judgment and communication skills: The whole thing – check analytics regularly so the data is top of mind when you need it. Dashboards and custom reports are good for “quick glance” monitoring but you’ll need to dig deeper from time to time to really bring insight to your clients.

Knowing the fundamentals of Google Analytics will help an effective marketer drive strategy and work more productively with their agency or in-house marketing teams to discover, develop, and implement changes that will move the needle. There are many ways you can customize Google Analytics (or other popular platforms) to make the above tasks easier, and I’d highly recommend you invest the time in training and implementation of analytics to do so. This investment will make you a better marketer, armed with data, insights, and innovations to make magic happen.