Nine Ways to Effectively Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics is one of the most valuable tools you can use to determine if your website or e-commerce store is meeting its goals. Although GA is a complex application, you can get started knowing the ins and  outs of how people are using your website by following these 9 steps.

1. I Work with all the parties who have a stake in the success of your web site. Your task is to specifically define what you mean by “a successful web site”. Is it number of visitors, pages viewed or total revenue generated by the site? Perhaps it is a specific number of sign-ups to receive your package of information, downloads of a file or people requesting a quote. Whatever you decide, the goal of this process is to define a set of goals that formed the core of how you will configure Google Analytics. It also provides an outline to review how your site is meeting your expectations.

2. After the primary goals are defined, define a set of secondary goals. In and of themselves, secondary goals are not the “endgame” you are looking for. However, they are goals that must be met in order for you to succeed at meeting the primary goals. These secondary goals may include including total unique visitors, total pages viewed, total time on site, incoming traffic sources, entry pages and exit pages. Each of these goals will allow you to evaluate where to spend advertising dollars and will help you determine how effective the site is in delivering information.

3. Use the Goal section of Google Analysis to configure GA so that it can measure  and report on your goals. Add these goals to the site analytics dashboard and custom reports to be distributed as a summary of the site performance. This dashboard scenario also enables the use of “early warning flags” to indicate areas where changes to the site may not have been effective as planned. In addition to this, you should  set up custom alerts (using the Intelligence section) to watch specific important measurements (e.g. conversion rates, traffic etc.) to keep you informed when certain parameters go “out of bounds”.

4. If you are purchasing advertising keywords, use Google Analytics to measure the effectiveness of keyword campaigns. Keyword effectiveness is measured by segmenting users in those that arrive to the site via a keyword and those that do not. If goals are set correctly, you can report on the ROI of keyword expenditures (i.e. are keywords increasing the number of site conversions?)

5. Set up custom segments to measure the effectiveness of traffic generating campaigns such as e-mails. This involves defining the segments and making sure that the URLs in the emails contained the necessary parameters to track segments (e.g. business from emails) and micro segments (business from a specific email). These are typically combined with tracking metrics that should be made available by the email vendor (e.g. Constant Contact) so that ROI of emails can be measured. Custom segments are a great tool to determine if people driven to your site via e-mail purchase more or less than other groups.

6. Site Search – Set up measurements of our internal site search to measure how people find information on the site and to measure if proper keywords are part of the content. If frequent searches for a specific term are returning few results, then this indicated that content was not written correctly.

7. Action Funnels — Set up funnels to measure the effectiveness of the conversion process. On E-commerce sites, the first funnel that you set up should be the a funnel to measure the effectiveness of your checkout process. On other types of sites, set up funnels that measure conversions such as your request for quote processes or request for information process. These funnels measure if the conversion process (e.g. checkout or registration) presented to the user are understandable or if they are asking for too much information.

8. Navigation: — Use Entrance Paths and Exit page measurement to consistently evaluate how well your navigation scheme is working. Using this method, you can evaluate if slow selling departments (or links) should be moved or if they should be eliminated or combined with other departments or links. Measuring the navigation allows you to maximize the effectiveness of the limited space available for top and side navigation and maximize the effectiveness of the space used for the product information pages and content.

9. Site Comments — whenever a major change is made to the site, add comments to the measurements using the GA comments features. This allows you to pair changes to the site with changes in measurements and determine if site changes are having their intended effect.