Just because Google Analytics is free, don't let that mislead you into believing it is somehow disabled, cheap, or insufficient.
Big corporate websites or sites with complex selling structures might need a paid analytics solution like HitBox or Omniture but, for most of us, Google Analytics provides enough customer insight to stay busy for years.
The one thing that Google Analytics lacks, however, is human support. For this reason, many businesses just scratch the surface of its capabilities. Some are afraid to dig deeper and others are just downright confused by it.
The Basics Tagging your site for Google Analytics should be a simple affair. Google simply requires that you include a snippet of code (tag) on any page you need to track. Google itself offers a simple set of instructions on how to do this on any type of site.
In fact, Google Analytics created Conversion University - a series of lessons on several Google Analytics related topics. It is fairly easy to understand and a good place to start if you have questions about the tool. You can find it at: https://www.google.com/support/conversionuniversity/
Once you get the code installed, there are several other tools that will test to ensure proper set up. Sitescan by EpikOne will check your site for proper installation with a free scan at https://www.sitescanga.com/. Firebug is a free, open-source Firefox plug-in that offers some features helpful for tagging. Get it at https://www.getfirebug.com. If you want something a bit more specialized (a paid version that will crawl all the pages on your website) you can use W.A.S.P., available at https://webanalyticssolutionprofiler.com/.
1. Setting Up Goals If you are only using Google Analytics for traffic and source reports, you are missing out on a huge amount of useful data and insight. One of its most powerful features is the ability to track goals for your customers. Whether you want them to buy something, subscribe, or become a lead, it is mission critical that you set up goals. Not only will this allow tracking of conversion rates, but also better enable you to find out where visitors are falling out of your conversion funnel.
With the cost of online traffic getting higher and higher, not knowing how good your site performs against its goals is not just wrong - it costs you money.
There are many great posts about setting up goals. The ZenCartOptimization.com blog has a series titled "Google Analytics Demystified." Part 5 deals with goals, and is a highly recommended read.
2. Ecommerce and Lead Gen Tracking To make changes based on analytics data, you should have confidence that the numbers from which you are basing your decisions are accurate and clean. I'm still surprised to see many clients still not filtering out traffic that is clearly unqualified.
The most common misstep is the failure to filter out internal traffic. On your Analytics home page, at the bottom right is a link called "Filter Manager." Here you can exclude internal traffic, as well as traffic from any other domain - some companies filter out their competitor's domains, as these are most likely people simply checking up on developments with your site. If you have members that make repeat visits to view subscription content or access a tool that requires a log-in, these should be filtered out as well.
Filtering out unqualified visitors will help you get a handle on exactly how well you are converting qualified visitors.
Google Analytics also allows analysis of visitors by defined segments. For example, we recently worked with a client who began a partnership with a very large retailer. The inclusion of a link from his partner's home page quadrupled his traffic. However, he only saw a very small increase in sales. By segmenting this traffic it was determined that, unlike traffic from other sources, his partner traffic was either unqualified or early in their buying process and unfamiliar with his products. We helped build a specific landing page for this partner traffic and focused on increasing that segment's conversion rate. Then, by providing content on that page specific to the partner traffic, sales increased.
Google Analytics also allows segmentation and tracking of results from Adwords campaigns. Google's Conversion Rate University has great instruction for setting this up and even offers some advice on building better converting ads and landing pages.
The Bottom Line: Take Action Don't get hung by the rope that is "analysis paralysis." And don't get caught up in running report after report but changing nothing.
The purpose of Web analytics is to turn the information into something you can optimize on your site. If you look at your analytics and don't walk away with a to-do list, you are wasting time and likely missing valuable opportunities.
Getting Started Here are a few things you can do to start your action list:
- Look at your top entry and exit pages, and optimize those with a 40 percent plus exit rate. - Look at your top referring keywords, and optimize landing pages for terms with a 40 percent plus exit rate. - Look at your goal conversion funnels, and start optimizing the step that has the highest exit/drop rate from one step to the next.
Finally, ask yourself why site visitors might be clicking here, bailing out there, or spending five minutes on one page versus 12 seconds on another. Never forget: When running reports and staring at averages in Google Analytics or any other analytics, those clicks are real people making decisions.
For all the above links and dozens more Google Analytics resources, visit GrokDotCom.com/GoogleAnalytics.
About the Author:Bryan Eisenberg is an internet marketing pioneer and is professional marketing speaker. Bryan is the recognized authority and pioneer in improving online conversion rates and was recently recognized as one of the top 10 User Experience Gurus. Eisenberg is the co-author of the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, USA Today and The New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?" and "Always Be Testing."
Digital marketing executive with proven experience in all aspects of search engine optimization (SEO), performance-based advertising, consumer-generated/social media, email marketing, lead generation, Web design, usability, and analytics. - 20-year Internet marketing veteran, currently serving as the Digital Marketing Campaign Manager at Antenna Group (formerly Chicago Digital). - Former Editor-In-Chief of Website Magazine, and a regular speaker on Web technology digital marketing strategy - Author of several books on digital marketing Including Web 360: The Fundamentals of Web Success; Affiliate 360: The Fundamentals of Performance Marketing; Domains 360: The Fundamentals of Buying & Selling Domain Names, and SEO 360: The Fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization.