November 9, 2015

Is Your Business Getting the Most Out of Google Analytics? 7 Questions to Help You Find Out

I’m going to answer the question posed above and not make you wait for it…“No.”

If your business is like the majority of businesses with Google Analytics, you’re likely not getting the most out of it.

I’ve been part of countless website launches and I know what happens. The Google Analytics code is placed on the website and the box on the launch checklist is checked. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief as the site goes live and no one revisits that Google Analytics account for at least six months – maybe not even until it’s time for another site redesign a couple years later and someone like me starts to inquire about data.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with companies of all different sizes across many industries during their website redesign process. An important component of strategy development is for everyone to understand the current site’s performance and visitors via Google Analytics. I want to answer questions like:

  • What devices, browsers and operating systems are people using the most when visiting the website? Not only does this provide development and QA testing benchmarks, but it can reveal visitor insights as well.
  • Where does the majority of the website traffic come from? What is the distribution across organic, referral, direct, email and social channels? Is the current breakdown desirable or should the new website be designed to improve one or more underperforming channels?  
  • What are the most popular pages, which pages inbound the most users and which pages do visitors convert on? By looking at metrics like bounce rate and time on page we can identify pages that aren’t functioning optimally and stop holes in our conversion funnel by addressing these issues. We’ll prioritize pages that are popular or inbound a lot of traffic to the site.
  • What’s the breakdown of male and female visitors on the website, what’s the breakdown per age group? What are they on the website to do? Yes – Google can provide these insights in aggregate as long as the reports are activated and the necessary filters and segmentation is implemented!

Wouldn’t it be great to have those insights when undertaking your website re-design?

Unfortunately, if no goals are configured, no segmentation or views are applied, if the demographics and interests reports aren’t activated, then it’s significantly more difficult to cut through the noise and get to the meaningful data to help guide decisions. And that is where we often begin at the start of a web design project – with a lot of one-dimensional clickstream data.

Our goal becomes to not only design a great new website, but to make sure that your Analytics account is providing useful data, either for regular reporting or at the very least, to inform your next website update.

Clickstream Data vs. Insights

“Out of the box” Google Analytics is a clickstream data tracking tool. That means that it records clicks while someone is browsing. Metrics like pageviews, time on page and bounce rate are calculated based on basic click data. This is done as a result of installing the tracking code on each page of the website.

Gathering and reporting on clickstream data is okay. But in order to kick your data insights up a notch and ensure your data is as accurate as possible, you have to do a little additional configuration after installing that UA code on the website.

In fact, spending 60-90 minutes configuring your account could yield information that helps you make truly strategic, data-driven decisions and puts you ahead of your competition!

56% of companies use Google Analytics according to a July 2013 report, and 60% of them are using the tool to view clickstream data only!

7 Questions to Find Out if You’re Maximizing Your Google Analytics Insights

Here are seven questions to ask yourself to determine if you’re getting the most out of your Google Analytics:

  1. Do you have more than one view setup? This is necessary to filter out erroneous referrers, spam and also maintain consistent data formatting to maintain data integrity.
  2. Do you have goals setup? Goals allow you to track conversion events on your website and measure them against other dimensions. Goals help provide context and meaning to your data. For example, if you see that most forms are submitted when a user visits three or more of your pages, you can optimize your website around that benchmark.
    Without goals, all you can do is try to generally improve metrics like decrease bounce rate or increase pageviews and hope that these efforts result in more audience engagement.
  3. Are the User Demographics and Interests reports activated? These are important because they provide additional useful insights about your users such as age, gender and market segmentation.
  4. Is the Site Search report activated? If you have site-search on your website, setup Google Analytics to collect search queries and gain insight into what users aren’t finding on your website or what they think should be there.
  5. Are you segmenting your reports? You should segment reports to get more useful insights. Use age, gender, interests and mobile vs. desktop to start.
  6. Is Google Search Console synced? Sync Google Search Console so you can see data in the Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization reports.
  7. Is your Adwords account synced? If you are doing paid campaigns, sync Adwords so you can see data in the Acquisition > Adwords reports.

If you answered “no” to any of these seven questions, you are likely leaving actionable insights on the table and not getting the most out of your Google Analytics.

The good news is it takes 1 – 2 hours to complete the necessary steps to transform your Google Analytics clickstream data into an insights-generating machine!

Configure Google Analytics for Insights [Checklist + Step by Step Guide]

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