Mastering Google Analytics: Gaining the Highest Value from Key Elements
The Americaneagle.com team recently presented a webinar that dove deep into Google Analytics to unpack how to gain valuable, key insights. Listen to the webinar recording here or follow along in this article summary.
What to Expect
By the end of this article, it’s our goal for you to know the critical elements it takes to be a Pro Google Analytics Operator and understand the value it can bring to helping your website achieve its business goals.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is an extremely helpful service that allows you to track & analyze all of your website traffic, which is just another way of saying “the visitors who come to your website.”
According to presenter, Simon Mandel, "It’s a stream of data that’s captured into a bucket and enables you to see a variety of different things."
What can you see with Analytics?
Some of the things you can see with Google Analytics include:
- Content (pages viewed, flow through the website)
- Location (continent, country, states, metro, city)
- Visit Length (How long did they stay on the website?)
- Demographics (age, gender)
Having a website, but NOT having Google Analytics is like driving blind. You have no idea where you're going with it and will likely crash, especially if that destination is online income.
How Does Google Analytics Work?
Campaign channels, such as paid ads, social media platforms, etc. drive traffic to your website and it is tracked in the analytics platform.
Once the visitors are on your website, this analytics tracking will help you see how many people are leaving your website before buying taking an action like making a purchase or filling out a form, as well as what page they are leaving from.
Google Analytics can help you find out what needs to be improved on your website so you can keep more people going down the funnel to eventually purchase or convert.
Why Should You Learn Google Analytics?
Every website has a goal, whether it is to share information, promote a product, or sell a service. There is generally an expectation to generate some form of revenue, whether that is a lead capture or a purchase.
By learning analytics, you can mine the data to find insights in how you can improve website performance and better connect with customers.
Who Uses Google Analytics?
Of all the 21,090,614 sites that use analytics, Google Analytics is used by 15,936,368 sites, or 75.56% of all websites. Of all the different Analytics platforms, Google Analytics’ rank is #1 out of 118 (source: perfectleads.com)
In February 2020, responding marketers from the United States said that 37.7 percent of their projects used marketing analytics in order to help in making an informed decision (source: statista.com).
What Do People Get Wrong?
Misconception #1: It’s too technical
Installing Google Analytics is relatively easy and straightforward. Instructions will vary depending on the platform, but most platforms have a plugin style install process that make it quite simple.
Misconception #2: It’s too complicated
It’s not complicated if you start simple. We recommend starting with traffic volume metrics and building on the basics. Then, we suggest prioritizing the impacting metrics, such as sales, revenue, average order value, or page views. Finally, we recommend consistently monitoring the key performance indicators (KPIs).
Misconception #3: It takes too much time
The data collection begins right away! Additionally, in the long run, these insights will actually save you time (and money).
What Do I Need to Know About Google Analytics?
We group these into 7 basic concepts:
1. Capturing Data
First, understand how to capture the data. This can be done a few ways:
- Adding the Tracking Script
- Use a Tag Manager
- Use available Platform Plug-ins
2. Understanding Data Processing
The data is a stream that is captured into a bucket. What that means:
- Site Data Is Not Retroactive
- You Cannot “Clean” Data
- You Can Organize Your Account with Views and Profiles
3. Metrics & Dimensions
Next, we need to understand metrics and dimensions. The tables in most analytics reports organize dimension values into rows, and metrics into columns.
- Metrics are quantitative measurements. The metric Sessions is the total number of sessions. The metric Pages/Session is the average number of pages viewed per session.
- Dimensions are attributes of your data. For example, the dimension ‘City’ indicates the city, for example, Paris or New York, from which a session originates. The dimension ‘Page’ indicates the URL of a page that is viewed.
4. Exploring Data
Once we have the data, how do we find the important insights? It starts with understanding the right questions to ask. So, what are the right questions?
- What is the big picture?
- What is the context?
- How do we do something about it?
Aside from that, Google Analytics provides additional functionality on how you can explore the data, such as:
- Using filters to remove data noise
- Creating content groups
- Tracking internal site search
- Setting up goals and conversions
5. Customizing Data
All sites are different! There will be things specific to your website in which you may want to track. Ways to customize that data include:
- Create custom user segments based on user behavior or attributes
- Apply Urchin Tracking Module parameters (UTMs) to attribute to campaigns
- Leverage the power of regular expressions (RegEx) to isolate data groupings
- Set up event tracking for micro conversions to customize visibility
6. Visualizing Data
There are several ways to visualize data. Data visuals may be used to better communicate key points to highlight. Tools that may be used to visualize data include:
- The native Google Analytics dashboard
- Exporting data as a spreadsheet
- External visualization tools like Google Data Studio or Power BI
7. Making Data Driven Decisions
Once we have the information in our pockets, we can begin making data driven decisions. Those may include areas such as:
- Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
- A/B Testing
- Campaign ROI Reporting
What is Changing in Google Analytics?
From here, we’ll pivot to discuss the future of Google Analytics and how it’s changing.
On October 14, 2020, Google announced a new version of their analytics platform, referred to as Google Analytics 4 (or GA4).
What is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4 introduces a new way for collecting and customizing data. It’s part of a series for 4 items that includes:
- New cross device support
- New data model
- Machine learning
- New perspective
With GA4, analytics is becoming a back-end solution for pipelining data to your visualization tools, like Google Data Studio. This will allow you to more efficiently pull out the data, marry data sources, and ultimately, make more meaningful data-driven decisions.
Please note, at the time of this webinar, GA4 is still in beta form and not fully ready. Currently, GA4 is not yet a replacement for Universal Analytics. Until it’s ready, we recommend running a GA4 property in parallel with Universal Analytics.
Technical Analytics Audit - Technical audit on analytics properties to identify concern and opportunity with setup configuration or data accuracy.
Google Analytics Setup - Basic setup of Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager and/or Google Search Console for new analytics accounts.
Google Tag Manager Setup - Setup of Google Tag Manager for existing analytics accounts – if you already have Google Analytics but need to add GTM.
Analytics Consulting & Support - General analytics support for special projects, troubleshooting, training, or consulting on analytics tools or configuration.
- Business Foundational Strategy
- SEO Keyword Strategy
- Content Experience
- Customized Acquisition Reporting
Overall, Google Analytics is a valuable tool that can be utilized to improve your website and your business goals. Learn how to be a Pro Google Analytics Operator and understand the value it can bring by capitalizing the key insights provided. If you're looking for more information or to listen into the full webinar, click here.