Marketing Strategy Blog

7 Crazy Useful Ways to Get More Out of Google Analytics

Marketing Performance Report

According to the 2014 CMO Survey Report (Aug 2014), merely 37% of marketers prove the short-term impact of their marketing spend quantitatively and only 33% prove the long-term impact. Furthermore, only 32.3% of marketing projects use analytics. All of this is just irresponsible.

Instead, you should strive to be an analytics expert, measurement ninja and a metrics maniac. Why? Because measuring the impact of your marketing enables you to funnel your marketing dollars where you’ll get the greatest return, thus empowering you to accelerate your business growth.

With your website investment, leveraging Google Analytics to measure your site performance is a snap. But too often, marketers lack the analysis skills to filter the data in ways that lead to more reliable and intelligent marketing decisions. To that end, here are 7 useful ways to get more out of your Google Analytics data to generate greater marketing results.

1. Assign Dollar Values to Actions

Measuring your marketing ROI is critical, yet many marketers fail to do so with Google Analytics, especially in non-transactional websites. According to Formstack, only 40% of marketers add Goals in Google Analytics. Far fewer assign a specific dollar value to specific actions by their site visitors, such as downloading an eBook or watching a video or opting in to a mailing list.

Adding dollar values to actions is easy in Google Analytics. You click on “Conversions” and then “New Goal”, and then configure the specific action you want to track, and set the trigger for the action (e.g., a “thank you” page is triggered, or a time-on-site duration has been achieved, or a video has been watched, etc.). Under “Goal Details,” toggle the “Value” to “ON” and then enter the specific dollar amount.

2. Segment Your Audience by Geography

Too often data analysis is just plain wrong when viewed in aggregate. One company with a focus on the Japanese market spent months analyzing its Google Analytics data on a global level rather than at the country level. This completely skewed the data as well as their analysis. As a result, some of their marketing assumptions were just dead wrong.

All too often small- and mid-market companies that derive 100% of their business in the United States never filter their website traffic geographically. This typically leads to the wrong conclusions of their website performance. For example, a blog post may catch fire in the U.K., yet not in the U.S. Or they see a spike in traffic, without discounting that the spike comes from Australia while US traffic actually dipped. If a company is set up for international sales, including international data in your analysis can be fantastic, yet it’s merely misleading when dealing with services that are to be provided in the U.S. And even for firms that conduct business globally, it’s absolutely critical to segment your data and your corrective actions by country in order to optimize your marketing performance.

3. Exclude Bot Traffic

To get a much more accurate read on your website performance, configure Google Analytics to exclude known bot traffic. This will reduce your traffic numbers and so may be a hit to your ego, but this adjustment is key for providing you with a true picture of your actual website traffic and actual visitor behavior.

To exclude bot traffic, go to “Admin” > “Account” > “Property” > “View” and then select “View Settings.” Scroll down the page to “Bot Filtering,” check the box and then hit “Save”.

4. Filter New vs. Returning Site Visitors

If your website objective is lead generation, then analyze your website data with a differentiation of your new site visitors vs. returning visitors. This is a basic step with learning how to improve your website’s performance specific to attracting new potential leads at the top of your funnel.

Your website may have specific sections or pages geared towards existing customers or subscribers, but then filter those out when analyzing your website’s ability to drive new leads. Be sure that you analyze your pages focused on new vs. returning visitors separately, as the insights you learn will help you improve not only your lead generation but also your lead nurturing and customer relationship management.

5. Content Drilldown Coupled with Traffic Source/Medium

Reviewing overall site traffic is actually not very useful. On the one hand it can provide you with an overall temperature for the trends on your site, but on the other it can be highly misleading without further segmentation, drill-down and cross referencing of the data.

Dig deeper to understand the specific content and pages that your site visitors prefer. You can do this by going to “Behavior” > “Site Content” > “Content Drilldown” and examining the QUALITY of each of your pages in terms of page views, time on page, bounce rate and exit rate. To further segment the data, you should configure a Secondary Dimension of “Acquisition” > “Source/Medium.” In this way, you’re able to see the quality of each page of traffic per each individual traffic source, providing you with extremely valuable insights. For example, you may initially get excited to see that Twitter or Google Organic Search drove a mountain of traffic to a given piece of content, but if you then see that the bounce rate and exit rate are comparatively high, you may realize that it’s an empty win as you’re probably attracting the wrong type of traffic. And don’t forget to further segment the data by geography and by “New” vs. “Returning” site visitors for even further insights, in line with our earlier recommendations.

6. Content Experiments

Anyone who knows us knows that we love, love, love to test everything. To that end, another great way to get more out of Google Analytics is to use Content Experiments, which enables you to quickly configure A/B tests of your web pages. Say you want to test a different headline or featured image for a blog post, or a different call-to-action on a product page. Go to “Behavior” > “Experiments” to find Content Experiments in Google Analytics. The experiments allow you to pit pages against one another so that you can measure comparative results of your tests and uncover what works better with your particular site visitors (regardless of what “best practices” may indicate).

7. Configure Custom Alerts

It’s one thing to track your data and review it at established intervals, such as for monthly reporting. It’s quite another to act on the data as trends shift or as aberrations arise. That’s where Intelligence Events and Custom Alerts come in. Google makes it easy to configure alerts for changes in your site performance that warrant an immediate analysis.

There are two types of Intelligence Events within Google Analytics. The first is preconfigured Automatic Alerts, and this can help you understand spikes or sudden drops in overall metrics for the site such as the bounce rate of all visitors on your website. Custom Alerts allow you to go more granular than this. Custom Alerts could be configured for spikes or sudden drops in traffic from specific sources or in Goal completions. Being alerted when things are going wrong, or when they are going oh so right, enables you to act on the data immediately, giving you a huge advantage in optimizing your marketing for maximum gain.