While utilizing website analytics to make informed business decisions used to provide a competitive advantage, it is now a necessity just in order to keep up. A 2015 MIT Sloan Management review found that, “down from a high in 2012 of 66%, just 51% of survey respondents in 2015 indicated that analytics creates competitive advantage for their organizations.” The fact is your business is starting at a disadvantage if you aren’t using website analytics tools to measure and to react to behavior on your site.
With all of the web analytics tools out there it can be difficult to know where to begin, but there is one incredibly powerful tool that every business should use. Google Analytics, or GA, is a must for every business who needs digital marketing analytics. GA offers insights into both user events and attributes that can help you streamline your marketing efforts and put more money where it sees the highest return. If you’re only using GA to check your unique visitors and pageviews, you’re missing out on many more complex features.
“A lack of talent isn’t the primary challenge to achieving competitive advantage with analytics. Research conducted by Accenture found that the biggest stumbling block is moving from data to insight to action.”
Today we’re going to review five great features of Google Analytics that can help you optimize your online advertising budget and use your insights to take action.
Start with the Basics: User Attributes
If you’ve ever looked at Google Analytics then you’ve seen some basic user attributes: language, location, new vs. returning users. But digging in a little deeper you can find data on age, gender, mobile vs. desktop, even an overview of user interests. If through your research you learn that 80% of your user base are females ages 18-24, you can update your campaigns to improve conversion rates for those users. Additionally, paying attention to browser use and screen resolution can make an impact. If most of your users are viewing your site from iPhones with a screen width of 360px, then you want to be sure your website is optimized for that user experience.
Attribution: Know Every Step of the Purchase Journey
Online advertising analytics are often viewed inaccurately. Let’s say someone clicks on a banner ad and it takes them to your site and they make a purchase. But what if that customer first visited your site and then signed up for your email through Facebook, then clicked your ad on Google AdWords, and finally used a coupon code to make a purchase? Previously, one might have given 100% credit for that sale to the last touch point before purchasing. However, the reality of that journey is much more complicated.
With attribution modeling, GA allows you to see every step in that journey, and properly apply credit where it’s due depending on several different attribution models. Understanding how different methodologies affect the conversion rates of different channels can mean updating ads in those channels to reflect their proper place in the average journey to purchase.
Use UTM Parameters to Differentiate Ads
When tracking the success of multiple advertising campaigns across different channels, using UTM parameters is a simple way to measure their performance in GA. For example, if you have multiple ad sets running in Facebook, utilizing UTM codes will make it easier to understand their performance through Google Analytics. Assigning these parameters takes all of the guesswork out of marketing success and allows you to abandon or retool underperforming campaigns before their budget is spent.
Analytics for Ecommerce
If you’re running an Ecommerce site, using Google Analytics is a no-brainer. Visitor conversion rates, transaction counts, total revenue, and average purchase amount are just a few of the KPIs you can track. When used in conjunction with the rest of the powerful data that GA provides, you can see the whole picture. This includes more than just purchasing, but the funnel or pages viewed prior to purchase, when they’re leaving your site, and what improvements you can make to increase conversions across the board.
Create Multiple Goals and Assign Values
While the purchase of a product is an obvious goal to add within your account, it’s also important to add additional touch points as goals. For example, if users sign up for your email list or download a white paper, these can be important steps in the conversion process. Not only do you want to add these goals to your digital analytics, but you should assign a meaningful value to them. For example, if 10% of users who sign up eventually purchase, and your average purchase price is $9.10, you could assign a value of $0.91 to every signup you track.
Google Analytics is one of the most powerful digital analytics tools available, and these examples are just the tip of the iceberg. The most important thing to remember is that just tracking your data isn’t enough. You must have a system in place to gain insight from what your website data and digital marketing campaigns are telling you, and take corrective action to increase conversions and see real changes to your bottom line.