The key component of any digital marketing effort is your digital presence on the internet and the website or page is your identification. In order to fast track your digital marketing career, the first step is to track the traffic to your website. Google Analytics is one of the top tools used today to monitor and analyze traffic to your website. Not only is it a powerful tool, it is also relatively easy to use once you have mastered the deep knowledge required to benefit from all of its various amazing and useful features. Adding Google Analytics to your digital marketing skill-set will help you keep up with the constantly evolving digital world. Reading the following step-by-step guide will take you from being a beginner to a pro if implemented in the right way, or you can watch our Google Analytics Tutorial For Beginners below.
Step 1: Setting up Google Analytics (GA)
Create a new Google Analytics account if you do not already have one. Then, set up a property in the account you have created as properties are where you send data and set up reporting views. Follow the instructions to set up the web tracking code. Once you have successfully installed basic page tracking on your site, you’ll see data in most of your Google Analytics report; including traffic referral information, user characteristics, and browsing information. It may take 24 hours for data to appear in your reports once tracking has been installed.
Step 2: Adding GA tracking code to your site
There are two ways to collect page tracking data:
- Add the Google Analytics tag (Universal Analytics) to your website container using Google Tag Manager. This approach is recommended because using Google Tag Manager simplifies tag management on your site. Using Google Tag Manager makes it easier to add other tags (such as AdWords Conversion Tracking and remarketing tags) to your site and configure your Google Analytics tracking.
- Add the tracking code directly into the HTML of every page of your website. This is the easiest approach if you only want to add the basic Google Analytics tracking code to your site.
Google Tag Manager is great because it automates the propagation of tags throughout your site, making it easier to track, make changes to the site, and also implement the code tracking directly into your site or to the HTML of your website’s every page.
Step 3: Setting up Goals in GA
This step involves two different processes. First, you need to use a Goal template. Goal templates are designed to help you set actionable Goals that meet standard business objectives. The Goal categories (Revenue, Acquisition, Inquiry, Engagement) are the larger business objectives that motivate the Goal templates. Try to create at least one Goal for each category to get a better understanding of how users interact with your content. Then, you need to create custom Goals, which are of four types:
- A ‘Destination Goal’ is a page on your website that users see when they complete an activity.
- An ‘Event Goal’ is triggered when a user does something specific like downloading a PDF or starting a video.
- A ‘Pages per Visit Goal’ is triggered when a user sees more or fewer pages than a threshold that you specify.
- A ‘Duration Goal’ is triggered when a user’s visit exceeds or falls below a threshold that you set.
Step 4: Setting up and Tracking UTM Parameters
This step primarily involves tracking where your traffic is coming from and how your traffic is interacting with your site, using the UTM parameters set up initially. Firstly, it is crucial to understand what UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) tracking parameters are. These parameters are not strictly speaking tags, but are arguments that identify an incoming click from a campaign and enables attribution of a latent conversion. These are added to a URL which can be tracked when clicked and gives you precise control over how to categorize your marketing clicks. In simple terms, with the help of these parameters, you can track the amount of clicks you are getting from your emails, social media, search engines, phrases within them, etc.
There are a total of five custom campaign parameters, out of which the first three are recommended to be always used for every link you own, to keep track of your referral traffic:
- utm_source (Campaign Source) is used to identify the advertiser, site, search engine, newsletter name, publication, etc. that is sending traffic to your property.
- utm_medium (Campaign Medium) is used to identify the advertising or marketing medium such as email, cost-per-click, banner, newsletter, etc.
- utm_campaign (Campaign Name) is used to identify individual campaign name, slogan, promo code, etc. for a specific product promotion or strategic campaign and is also used for keyword analysis.
- utm_term helps identify paid search keywords, especially by specifying the keyword if you are manually tagging paid keyword campaigns.
- utm_content is used to differentiate similar content or links within the same ad, like two CTA links within the same email message. By setting different values for each, you can tell which version is more effective.
With UTM parameters, you can tag your links to gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns and identify the best ways to drive more visitors to your website. It is important to strike balance between putting enough UTM parameters to make the activity identifiable and skipping a few if it is unnecessary. It is not mandatory to include all the five parameters, use only those details that you truly require. While the order doesn’t matter, be consistent in the usage of upper/lower case and leave other parameters in the URL alone. A few examples of places where tracking parameters are used are in display ad banners, newsletters, social media posts like twitter tweets, offline vanity URLs and also in diagnosing problems with your data.
Step 5: Monitoring Key Metrics
Google Analytics is good for highlighting the things that need to be addressed and tweaked within the SEO strategy of your website. Below is a list of key metrics that need to be monitored:
- # Sessions: A group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame.
- # Pageviews: A view of a page on your site that is being tracked by the Analytics tracking code.
- # Unique Pageviews: Aggregates pageviews that are generated by the same user during the same session.
- Bounce Rate: The percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).
- Average Session Duration: Total duration of all sessions (in seconds) / number of sessions.
- % new sessions: The percentage of sessions by new versus returning users.
- Goal conversion rate: The rate your site fulfills your target Goals, which represent completed activities, called conversions, that contribute to the success of your business.
Also pay attention to the decision or traffic tree which can be accessed in GA and analyze components like geo, demographics, channel, source/medium, campaigns to get a better understanding of your site performance.
Step 6: Collecting Qualitative Data
Qualitative Data is data that tells us a story. It is best obtained from visitors to your sites through surveys and polls. Remember that your visitors have short attention spans, so you don’t want to ask too many questions. The three main questions that you need to get answered are:
- 1. Why are you here? (primary purpose of visit)
- 2. Were you able to complete your task?
- 3. If not, why?
These help you in calculating the Net Promoter Score (NPS) which helps understand how likely would the visitor refer the company/product/service offered by the site to another person. Examples of low cost tools that helps collect qualitative data are WebEngage and Qualaroo. They enable event-triggered surveys which is a simple way to run short surveys on your site. Another example is Google Consumer Surveys which is a powerful tool that allows you to create satisfaction surveys as well. They also provides you the code snippet that needs to go on your site which can be used in mobile devices too. While the default version is free, the customized version is not.
Step 7: Experimentation and Testing
Your website or mobile application is a testing environment that has several benefits. It gives voice to the actual customer experience and lets you know what works and what does not. Testing opens up the mind for creativity and idea democratization as you can test colour, fonts, placement of images, etc. to increase your conversion rates. Once you find what works, you can scale improvements very quickly and bump up your cash flow and your bottom line.
Earlier, website design was based on the highest paid person’s opinions. The ‘cool ideas’ had no before/after comparisons. Such ideas didn’t work as they were often not implemented correctly. There were not many tools available then to help you create the best customer experience or to measure those recommendations. The thing about technology is that a lot of the things that worked just some time ago online can become obsolete by the time of completion. The half-life of good ideas are very short (especially online) and random ideas cancel each other out in no time. Hence, it is very important to be strategic, methodologic and deliberate about how you roll out changes and track them. Several kinds of testing come in handy at this stage:
1. Hypothesis Testing
In statistics, hypothesis testing involves an analyst makes an assumption about a population parameter or a certain attribute of your website like your price point, shop now button placement, colours that you use, etc. and then tests it. An example of this is A/B testing, which helps you remove the speculation by directly finding the answer from the consumers about themselves.This is done by splitting traffic to each version of your website and then measuring which version leads to better outcomes. The great thing about A/B testing is that it uses existing resources, is very quick to get started, and sets the stage for complex testing. On the other hand, you have less control over external factors and it is very limited to small and simple changes (like image, font, colour or any other individual attribute).
2. Multivariate Testing
An alternative to A/B testing is Multivariate testing, which is a way to test multiple variations of multiple factors at the same time. In A/B testing, you need to test each of those changes one after the other provided there is a certain amount of traffic before the test becomes significant. Testing individual factors may give one result, but taken collectively the best combination need not be one of the individual best factors. Multivariate testing allows you to see the impact of different element combinations and permutations possible. The pros of this type of testing is that you can test multiple things at once. There are several ways to overcome IT limitations and hence, it is faster in bringing more changes. The cons are that it requires high traffic volumes for it to have relevance and value. Besides, there is a tendency to optimize for smaller changes, ignoring bigger ones in this kind of testing. It is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.
Step 8: Analyzing Competitive Intelligence
Competitive intelligence is often about ‘benchmarking’, which helps put your organization’s performance in context. Another way of understanding competitive intelligence is when you focus on the threats (T) in a SWOT analysis. However, it is often marked by a lot of bias and a number of unknowns. It can be viewed as both a blessing and a curse as it can either empower you or paralyse you.
In benchmarking against competitors, you can use insight on their performance to your advantage. Commonly sought information includes metric such as traffic, average time on site, bounce rate, unique visitors, search terms, etc. While it is tempting to ask questions like “What is a good conversion rate?” or “What is an acceptable bounce rate?”, it really depends on your website, content, vertical and other factors which should be used wisely to assess how this will help your business.
One way of benchmarking that helps add momentum to your marketing campaign is to establish your baseline and track your improvement over time by benchmarking against yourself. You can use competitor metrics such as traffic, visitor demographics, or average time on site that are available through simple online tools. There are several ways to check the reliability of your tool. One way is to compare your own data (internal) with how the tool reports the same metrics (external). Another way is to assess your competition using technological footprint tool like BuiltWith, which performs a competitive analysis to consider both the trends in the metrics and the differences in scale. Similarly, Compete is another tool which allows users to gather and view basic analytics data for competitor sites. It gives you rankings, monthly visitors to the site, bounce rate, search phrases, keywords, demographics, etc.
Step 9: Making Comparisons
The next step is comparing your performance to your competitors’ performance. You can compare the traffic of unique visitors and competitor sites compared to yours using tools like Compete. This can give you a better understanding of your performance and where you stand exactly within the marketplace. Comparing your key metrics with your competitors can bring immense insight and can remove any complacency that you might have had earlier. It gives you perspective on whether you are on the right track or not.
Another analysis to run is your competition’s traffic sources and patterns, like social media sites, website, blogs, etc. which helps you uncover key digital marketing strategies that might even work for you. The appropriate tools provide you with pictorial representations on the traffic and its sources, providing informative data on tweaks you can to do to your digital strategies and campaigns to make more impact online. There are many cheap or free online tools you can use to conduct competitive analysis like Compete, SimilarWeb, SEMrush, SpyFu, etc.
To sum up, competitive analysis allows you to put your performance in context, understand what your competitors are doing differently and find opportunities for your business to grow and evolve.
Step 10: Using Universal Analytics
There is more to your business than your analytics tool can measure. With the proliferation of devices like tablets, smartphones, laptops, desktops, it important to track how your visitors are accessing your site so that you can pour your resources into those areas that require more attention. Google Analytics (GA), as discussed, is a great way to gather data and track a lot of different important factors. The new version of GA called Universal Analytics helps you look at the people or customers and their visits, devices (individual/cross) through which the sites are accessed and how (online/offline).This is why traditional web analytics fractures your data but with GA you can track things in a more seamless way as it offers you ways to override user IDs, widen dimension and measure protocols. For example, when offline interactions happen, you can send the event back to Google Analytics through the Measurement Protocol, where it will be combined with the visitor’s original activity.
GA also helps you use enhanced eCommerce capabilities to create checkout funnel reports to see where people drop off. The report could show how many people are going through completion and where people are having problems, like people dropping off at the shipping, payment, or reviewing portion of the shopping experience. You can also do shopping behaviour analysis like the type of visitors, the sources, the keywords and uncover other information about the traffic coming to your site. For example, a shopping behaviour analysis showed that tablet users start checkout twice as often and complete purchase 57% more often than overall users. On the other hand, mobile users start the checkout process more often than desktop but complete purchase 40% less than overall users. Furthermore, you can code in GA to capture events in the shopping funnel and segment the eCommerce section for a market basket analysis, product list creation, internal promotions, coupons, remarketing, etc. This kind of information helps in forming decisions like to leverage remarketing more for tablets and thus, determining where your digital marketing strategies ought to focus.
In order to boost your digital marketing efforts, it is not only important to understand what Universal Analytics can help you achieve, but also how you can go about achieving it. Besides, Google Analytics is only one tool among the multitude of digital marketing tools and techniques that are available and digital marketing training is incomplete without practical learning. Courses like Simpliearn’s Digital Marketing Certification training will provide you with the right skills through extensive hands-on practice on a wide range of simulations and projects, which will help you prepare for the most sought-after certification exams such as OMCA (OMCP), Facebook Marketing, YouTube Marketing, Google AdWords, and Twitter Marketing along with Google Analytics. There is always something new to be learnt in the digital world as technology is constantly evolving. Whether you’re looking for a new career in digital marketing or to expand your existing skill-set, a certification will enable you to launch and execute your own digital marketing campaigns, ultimately making you a complete digital marketer.