Getting Started with Google Analytics

Google Analytics can be very intimidating. Now that I’ve set it all up for my website, what information do I look at? What does it all mean? Well, here are some tips on how to step into the world of website data.

leverage data
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There are many levels of interpretation for website analytics. The goal is to advance your interpretation from the basic implementation and reading/understanding the information to ultimately being able to predict future business metrics based on patterns through the information. Most higher ed organizations I know are in the basics stages of interpretation. We have a general idea of overall traffic and audience data – but we can’t always explain why the data is the way it is. When it comes down to it – pageviews, referring social media sites, referring landing pages, new vs. returning visitors, bounce rates, keywords, and all of the other information – don’t really mean anything unless you can connect it with your business marketing objectives.

Marketing Strategy

One of the key mistakes that I observe in any marketing strategy implementation is not having a solid marketing plan – but that is another blog post entirely. Let’s look at the basics of a marketing strategy:

Situation Analysis → Goals & Objectives  → Tactics  → Implementation  → Measurement

The Goals & Objectives are the most important component. It is imperative that we define what we are trying to accomplish before we start implementing tactics. Some examples are:

  • E Commerce: Selling Products & Services
  • Lead Generating: obtaining contact information for sales prospects
  • Support: help customers solve problems
  • Branding: drive awareness & engagement

Please see my “Marketing Plan” on how to fully establish a marketing strategy. Tools to help if you can’t wait:

  1. Marketing Plan Template
  2. Project Strategy (Ensures key messages are consistent throughout all channels of communication, digital communications are linked & consistent, and it is an easy way to communicate with others about the key points of a project effectively (so that they understand the scope
  3. Digital Communications Calendar (Provide insight into recurring events, helps plan for additional key/promotional messages, and provides focus for new initiatives by standardizing recurring communications)
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Marketing Funnel. Information from×782.jpg

Marketing Conversion Funnel

All measurement should do is support the first steps of a marketing strategy. They should illustrate that the goals & objectives were achieved with specific tactics and implementation based on the situation analysis. So, let’s start with a basic marketing conversion funnel. These are the basic stages of how a potential customer can ultimately achieve your organizations marketing goals and objectives.

  1. Plan
    The plan includes a basic situation analysis and defines the overall goals & objectives that drive the tactics and implementation.
  2. Reach
    Information that exposes potential customers and draws them into your website. This includes search engines, social networks, blogs, brochures, giveaways, advertising, emails, and more.
    Key Measures: Fans/Followers, Visitors, Inbound Links
  3. Act / Educate
    Content that establishes your brand credibility and supports your customers in the decision making process. This includes your website, blog, interactive tools, videos, photos, customer relations marketing, and more.
    Key Measures: Time on site, Shares/Comments/Likes, Leads/Lead Conversion
  4. Convert/Contact
    Content that supports customers in the purchasing stage. This includes call center calls, appointments scheduled, items purchased, and more.
    Key Measures: Scheduled Appointments, Items purchases, Revenue, Average Appointment value
  5. Engage
    Conversations and information that helps develop a relationship with the customer that helps build them into being your brand ambassadors. This includes social media, events, repeat customer programs, and more.
    Key Measures: Repeat Purchases (lifetime value), Referrals, Social Media Shares

Google Analytics Goals & Objectives

Google Analytics makes measurement easy by giving you the ability to define and measure these marketing goals and objectives in terms of website actions. There are four types of goals for Google Analytics, just remember that you can only set up 20 per view type.

  1. URL Destination: A URL Destination goal is a page that visitors see once they have completed an activity. For example, a “Thank you for signing up” page, a receipt page after a purchase, or a “Make an Appointment page”.
    It is important that you establish a specific path that you expect traffic to take, or a “Funnel” for destination goals. This is so analytics can track where visitors enter and exit the path on the way towards your goal

    web funnel.fw
    Funnel for Destination Goal example
  2. Pages per visit: define the pages viewed and a conversion will show if a visitor views more (or less) pages than the threshold you’ve set.
  3. Time on Site: set a time threshold and a conversion will show if a visitor is spending more (or less) time than the threshold defined.
  4. Specified Events: you can define specific events that you correlate with your overall goals. For example, playing a video, clicking on a promotion, or making a social recommendation.

You can also connect each goal with a specific monetary value – in order to quickly calculate ROI (return on investment).

How to Set up Goals:

  1. Select Admin > Account > Property > View
  2. Click “Goals
  3. Select “Create a Goal
  4. Follow step-by-step flow and select “Next Step” to save and move on.
  5. Click “Save Goal

BONUS: Custom Campaigns

In addition to goals, you can track individual marketing tactic success through the traffic sources in Google Analytics by setting up “Custom Campaigns”. All you have to do is add parameters to the URL you’re sharing to track marketing implementation success. This can work for newsletters, SEO links, E-mails, overall campaigns, and more.

Start at the Custom Campaign URL Builder  that Google made, and it walks you right through it. Then look in Traffic Sources under Google Analytics to separate out which tactics were successful in driving traffic to your site – and other metrics that illustrate their success (time on site, bounce rate, pages viewed, etc).

I hope this helps! Please stay tuned for more tips and submit any questions below. 🙂

Starting With Google Handout


Getting Started with Google Analytics Webinar,
Google Analytics: Set up and edit Goals,
Google Analytics: About Custom Campaigns,
Google Analytics: Features
5 Tips To Use Google Analytics More Effectively
Web Analytics Simplified: Funnel Analysis for Online Business.
LevelWing: Leverage Data to Achieve What Could Be:
Leveraging content to drive awareness, permission and sale,

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