Google Analytics (GA) is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic, currently as a platform inside the Google Marketing Platform brand. Google launched the service in November 2005 after acquiring Urchin. The tool is geared towards marketing professionals and is free. The paid version of the tool, Google Analytics 360, offers its users higher hit limits, custom funnels, attribution modeling etc.
Google Analytics is easy to set up. To start collecting basic data from a website, follow the steps below:
- Create or sign in to your Analytics account by going to google.com/analytics.
- Set up a property in your Analytics account. A property represents your website or app, and is the collection point in Analytics for the data from your site or app. When you track a resource using Analytics, you include a property ID in the tracking code that you put on your web pages or in your app source code. Performance data, like number of users or screen views, for resources tagged with the same ID is collected into the corresponding property. For example, if you associate one property ID with two websites, data for both websites appears in the same property in your Analytics account. You can then use views and filters to organize the data.
- Follow the instructions to add the tracking code to your website so you can collect data in your Analytics property. Global Site Tag (gtag.js) and Google Tag Manager are the recommended tracking methods for new implementations. Once the code is added to your website, you should be able to see data immediately in the “Realtime” report.
- Set up a reporting view in your property. Views let you create filtered perspectives of your data; for example, all data except from your company’s internal IP addresses, or all data associated with a specific sales region.
- Set up goals to identify the actions you want users to take on your site or app.
- Manage users by granting permissions to make configuration changes and to interact with data.
- Link your Google Ads and Analytics accounts so you can share data between them and develop a more comprehensive understanding of how your marketing efforts drive user behavior on your sites or apps.
Consider your long-term reporting goals and how they might affect your account structure. Create an implementation plan before you set up new properties. In some cases, you may want to have multiple resources all send data to the same property. In other cases, you may want each resource to send data to a separate property. Similarly, identify the different stakeholders within your organization and the data they’ll need access to. Use this as a blueprint for the views under the properties.
Over the next few posts, I will go deeper into the different types of reports available in Google Analytics. The first set of reports are the “Audience Reports” that help you understand who your users are. Here is a brief about some of the reports:
- Overview: The overview gives you a high level snapshot of users, sessions, pageviews, average session duration, bounce rate etc. You can also access demographics, system and device reports from here.
- User Explorer: This report gives the client ids as per the cookies of the users visited during the selected date range.
- Demographics & Interests: You will need to enable Advertising Reporting Features for your property and enable the Demographics and Interests reports for the view before you see the Demographics and Interests data. Analytics collects data from Third-party DoubleClick cookie (Web-browser activity only), Android Advertising ID (App activity only) and iOS Identifier for Advertisers (App activity only) Through doubleclick ad network and client IDs. Important to note that by activating Google Signals, aggregated data from Google users who have turned on Ads Personalization is used to enhance demographics and other reports.
- Geo: Language, Location
- Behavior: Measure the gravitational pull of your site, and the extent to which you’re encouraging first-time users to return. You can also see the economic impact of new vs. returning users (e.g., the 28% of users who are returning account for 45% of total transactions).
- Technology: These reports help you identify the browser and operating systems used by your users to access your website. This is helpful to identify browsers that your web properties must support (and hence, be included in your QA/ UAT process). This report is also great for troubleshooting and identifying any specific browsers that your website is under performing on. You can even get the screen resolution which is extremely useful for gauging your average fold and hence the location of your key messaging.
- Mobile: These reports show the split between the major device types — mobile, desktop and tablet. Further, you can see the breakdown of the different devices used to access your website. This is very useful for identifying the conversion rate by device, often a big low hanging fruit for testing and optimization.
- Cross Device: The Cross Device reports help you connect data about devices and activities from different sessions so you can get a better understanding of your users and what they do at each step of the conversion process — from initial contact to long-term retention. The Cross Device reports are only available in User ID views. You must first set up the User ID and create a User ID view in your account before you can access these reports.
- Custom: You can use Custom Variables to extend the scope of your Segments. User-level custom variables let you identify users by aggregate behavior over a date range rather than by discrete, single-session interactions with your site.
- Benchmarking: Benchmarking allows you to compare your data with aggregated industry data from other companies who share their data. This provides valuable context, helping you to set meaningful targets, gain insight into trends occurring across your industry, and find out how you are doing compared to your competition.
- Users Flow: The Users Flow report is a graphical representation of the paths users took through your site, from the source, through the various pages, and where along their paths they exited your site. The Users Flow report lets you compare volumes of traffic from different sources, examine traffic patterns through your site, and troubleshoot the efficacy of your site.
Stay tuned for more posts on Google Analytics and using that data to generate hypotheses for optimization.
This post reviewed the content in the CXL mini-degree on conversion optimization.