Getting started with Google Analytics-Review
In this post, I’m gonna cover the below topics which I’ve learned this week on the CXL Institute’s Conversion Optimization Mini-degree on Google Analytics.
- Account, Property, and View settings
- Setting up Filters — Basics
- Understanding the types of Traffic
- Setting up Goals
- Analyzing the Results
Check out my previous post where I’ve briefly discussed some of the common terms used in Google Analytics.
Account, Property, and View settings
Account settings are the first option that shows up in the admin section. Here you will have the basic high-level settings like Account ID, Name, Data sharing settings (How much data you want to share with Google), and the Data Processing Amendment. You normally create one account for your organization or website.
Property settings are where you define the default URL of your website. Here you have a Tracking ID (UA-346XXXXX–1) which is unique for each property. There are a few advanced features inside the Property settings to be aware of. For example, enabling the Demographics and Interest reports helps you analyze your users based on Age, Gender, and Interest data which it collects using the third-party DoubleClick cookie. Another very insightful option is the Search Console that allows you to track queries from Google search when enabled. You are allowed to have up to 50 properties for your account.
It is always better to have more than one View in your property. One view is the Raw data without any filters applied and the additional ones based on your business criteria. This is very crucial to get your data right. You don’t want to have fractured data which can very much happen if you do not get the View set up correctly. Each property can have up to 25 views.
Setting up Filters — Basics
The Filter gives you the flexibility to modify each data that is collected in the View. By default, GA collects data from all of your visitors. Now, what if you want to see only a specific subset of your data, for example, you would like to exclude data on the View from a particular IP address. That’s when Filters come in handy. But always remember this cannot be modified. Once you have a filter set on your View, you cannot retrieve the data that you’ve configured to exclude. That is the main reason why having a backup raw data View is crucial.
Understanding Regex will help you in creating powerful custom Filters. A common pattern is the (.*) which means it matches 0 or more random characters. For example (experiments.com/.*) will include any URLs that start with experiments.com. Also remember Filters work based on top to bottom hierarchy. The topmost filter will be applied first followed by the rest.
Understanding the types of Traffic
The Source/Medium report under the Acquisition section is something you are going to be using a lot. This report shows every single traffic that is coming in along with the type of medium. Think of the Source as the Brand (Youtube, Facebook, etc.) and Medium as the type of traffic (Organic, Referral, CPC, etc.). Your traffic reports can be customized using UTM parameters both standard and custom. GA provides five standard parameters: Campaign Source, Campaign Medium, Campaign Name, Campaign Term, and Campaign Content. Using Google campaign’s URL builder you can build URL parameters that can look like this: sample.com/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=sales&utm_term=cart&utm_content=product
You can find these parameters as dimensions in Google Analytics using which you can customize your traffic report.
Setting up Goals
Goals measure how well your website achieves its target objectives. It represents completion. For example, you can set an event goal to see how many of your visitors click the ‘Go to Cart’ button and proceed to the cart page. Goals help you get the number of conversions and the conversion rate. It is configured at the View level and can be applied to any page of your website. If your website visitor performs a certain action on your website that is defined by you as a goal, then that will be recorded as a conversion in Google Analytics. You are basically telling Google Analytics to track this particular action and report it as a Conversion in the reports.
There are four types of Goals in Google Analytics:
- Destination goal: When a visitor lands on the destination URL that you have configured, the goal is achieved. For example, the order confirmation page or the thank you page. You can set up a destination goal on these pages to track how many visitors have purchased or signed up and landed on this page.
- Duration goal: It’s the amount of time the visitor spends on a session. If your goal is to track how many visitors spend more than 20 seconds on your homepage, you can set the duration to be 20 seconds on your homepage URL. And once a visitor has spent that amount of time it is considered as a conversion in GA. This considerably helps you identify the power of your design and copy.
- Pages/Screens per session goal: It tracks how many pages the visitor has seen. When you want the number of visitors who have seen 5 pages on your website, this is the goal to be set up.
- Event goal: This goal is fired when an action defined by you is triggered on the website. This is a very important and powerful goal. Using this you can track specific actions that you want to track on your website that is not recorded by default in Google Analytics. For example, button clicks, link clicks, video play, ad click, etc.
Funnel visualization: If there is a logical path which you want your visitors to take before converting, you should set up Funnels in your destination goal. It will help you visualize how they are converting.
Analyzing the Results
As we all know, Google Analytics helps in telling a story using data. When we have a question, we immediately jump into GA, dig in some reports, and there you go! Got the solution. But the real question here is, Is the solution appropriate for the problem you are facing? Take time to research the problem you or your clients are facing. Before you dive in and invest your resources into doing something, try to get the whole picture, use the reports, and see if that action is absolutely necessary.
There goes my short summary of the concepts which I’ve learned this week. Google Analytics is a very intense and elaborate topic. A lot of self-learning is thoroughly necessary to understand how to use it effectively. I absolutely loved the way this whole lesson was designed which took me through from the basics. Thanks for reading and do let me know your thoughts on the comments!