Regardless of whether you are new to Google Analytics or you just want to learn a bit more about how to best utilize this free, powerful tool, the following essential information will help you move forward toward taking advantage of the surplus of information that is available to you.
Getting Started With Google Analytics
Part of what makes Analytics so easy to use is its intuitive interface. Users can quickly and easily set up an account and begin tracking their digital assets, even if they don’t have any experience.
However, the decisions you make about the way you initially structure your account can be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to change or undo at a later day; this can hugely affect your ability to get maximum value from Analytics. Therefore, it is important to spend some time learning the basics.
Though you will need a Google account to set up Google Analytics, it is not recommended that you use your personal Gmail address, or that of others in your company, to create access privileges. You should use company email addresses for this purpose.
Once you have set up the account and given appropriate privileges to those who need it, you will need to do a few more things:
- Install tracking code on your website properties. Even if you have more than one property, you can set them all up under the same Google Analytics account. Once you have done this, you should be able to start viewing reports within 24 hours.
- Goals allow you to measure how often visitors take or complete specific actions on your website. Identify key actions you want to track and set up Goals in order to track the effectiveness of your website and your marketing efforts. Learn here how to set them up in Google Analytics.
- Get in there and explore; learn how to read the key reports that are in your Analytics account.
- Study. Visit the Google Analytics Help Center. It is full of useful tutorials, videos and information on how to get the most out of your account. You can also visit the help forum to find a supporting community.
Some Basic Vocabulary
The following table is a good glossary of basic terms, taken from the Google Analytics Help Center:
Campaigns: Campaigns let you insert parameters to any page URL from your website so that you can gather more information about your referral traffic.
Conversions: Conversions are the number of times goals have been completed on your website.
Behavior: Behavior data tells you what visitors are doing on your website. This helps you improve your content.
Bounce Rate: This represents the number of single-page visits in which the visitor left the site from the entrance page without interacting with the page or clicking through to another page within the same site.
Pageviews: This is the aggregate number of pages opened. Repeated views of a single page are calculated into the total.
Sessions: A session is the period of time a user is actively engaged with your website, page or application, within a range of dates. All usage data is associated with a session.
Why Use Google Analytics
Google Analytics can help you evaluate your marketing efforts and determine not only how visitors are reaching your site, but also how to measure the value of each visitor. When you know exactly how your visitors are interacting with, and using, your site’s content, you can better identify what about your website and marketing is performing well and what is not, thus saving you time, money and effort.
Some key data points that you can get from Analytics are how long your visitors are staying on your website, squeeze page or app, which pages they are visiting, whether or not they are leaving the site quickly from the entry page (thus indicating that they may not be finding what they are looking for), what devices they are using to access your website, where, geographically speaking, your visitors are coming from, how they are finding your company digitally (whether through a referral site or ad, an email, organically, or direct access from a link), and what languages your visitors speak among many other things.
Google Analytics takes a little bit of time to understand and learn how to use, but it is definitely a learning curve worth embarking upon, as it will give you invaluable information about your marketing efforts; no company should be spending marketing dollars without analyzing these kinds of metrics. Without them, it’s like throwing marketing money into the wind and just hoping it will hit something.
Kate Gathii is in charge of Sales and Marketing in Zanzibar and Tanzania for Direct Pay Online. Direct Pay Online provides global e-commerce and online payments solutions for the travel and related industries. She has vast experience in the fields of e-commerce, travel and payments, in East Africa.