I think some of you are wondering if this isn’t obvious or maybe this a genuine question for others. Further, you might ask - is Google Analytics (GA) really the tool to analyze my audience data? The answer to all those questions and others is: YES!
I’ll place good money on the simple idea that very few companies - Fortune 500 even - are using Google Analytics’ complete capabilities. I can’t break down every facet of the GA platform in this blog post, but I can say that it does far more than people understand. I’ll break down some components with a simple explanation of each one and it’s function and purpose.
Google Analytics - Reports Feature & Filtering
We’ll start with the most basic area. I am intentionally overlooking the customization and initial “home” report - mostly because these features should be adjusted based on various campaigns and individual dashboard needs. The information in the reporting area can be segmented out by traffic sources and reworked based on the types of information you may want to glean from the data Google provides for you on your website (as well as search console data). Audience, acquisition, and conversion reports are where users tend to focus, but I prefer to direct analysts - at least initially - toward the behaviour report. This is the section of analytics where you really start to learn about the web product you have deployed to users for information discovery or purchase analysis.
The behaviour report breaks down content by usage, but more importantly by flow, as well as by landing and exit pages. Reviewing that process can help you glean valuable insights into how users are viewing your site and the information that they are finding within it. It is an ideal area to review in terms of finding areas where users are first engaging and where final engagement might take place - this can then be used to place CTAs more effectively or put additional content funnel markers for users to use the site more deeply.
Another useful report for internal teams is the site speed segment. This is a fairly straightforward analysis of your site usage and the amount of time it takes for users to engage and process the information on the site. I recommend reviewing this to find ways to better optimize your site.
Finally, the events section is in the behavior report. I think this is an easily overlooked, yet very important section to consider. This is an area where you can track micro-conversion data and look at how people are using your website. In this area (with proper implementation of Google Tag Manager), you can adequately track how people are engaging with CTAs, how they are getting from one point of the site to another. Use this area appropriately and rapidly increase your site’s opportunities.
Google Tools & Tech Integrations
Google has written (through the use of Google Tag Manager) several integrations for third party platforms, but more importantly, many marketing technologies have written plugins and apps that properly integrate data into Google Analytics. If you are trying to qualify a product or service leveraging the opportunities to integrate a tool can ensure you get clean data, accurate reports, in order to make good decisions.
The biggest reason I recommend the use of Google to teams is for the purpose of good decision making. If you can’t be assured that your data is in prime condition, then you really can’t make great decisions since your data isn’t inerrant.
Most email marketing systems - MailChimp, HubSpot, Pardot/Salesforce, etc. - and social media platforms have integrations, scripts, plugins, or even APIs that will allow the user some sort access point for exchanging data. The reality of so many platforms really does necessitate this type of data facilitation. I will go through some of the items to be aware of in a later article, but tracking and aligning data is fraught with issues, so simplifying it through GA integrations is key and can really help proper attribution.
Google Search & Enhanced Link Attribution
The Google Search report is one of the least utilized and understood areas of GA. Really, it is has the most to do with Google Search rankings and results. Regardless, the data that can be gleaned from this report and integration system (through search console), can be used to advise content development and search optimization strategy. Search data can do a large variety of things for your data and future planning (as well as advise paid advertising tactics). I would highly recommend setting up Google Search Console if you haven’t already, and integrating that into your Google Analytics Reports.
For the second part of this, Enhanced Link Attribution is a feature you can turn on in your Admin panel (under Property Settings). This can tell you what internal/external links resources users are clicking on in terms of it’s percentage of user sessions clicks. The goal here is to analyze how users are using your navigation features. Once you have this information you can make decisions on how UI might benefit from updating, as well as how content might be featured in more prominent ways.
Reach out to Eightfold and find out how you might be able to better use your site and the data it collects (since this can definitely expand beyond GA), or use Google and begin to find new ways to mine your data for better decision making.
Here is some more stuff on this subject: