4 Things You Should Do Right Now to Get The Most Out of Google Analytics

If you’re new to Google Analytics, then chances are that you spend most of your time looking at the Realtime Overview of active visitors on your site, or the All Pages pageviews dimension to see which pages on your site are getting the most visitors.

Those are certainly great places to start when analyzing your web site performance. But if you want to leverage your web site to generate new leads, and ultimately drive more conversions and revenue, then your going to have to take advantage of more advanced capabilities that Google Analytics has to offer.

Key Questions

Before we get into the specific steps you can take to improve your ability to gain a better understanding of your online visitors, prospects, and customers, here are a few critical questions you will be able to answer once you’ve configured Google Analytics to work for you. Everybody should want to know the answers to the following:

  1. How are my visitors finding my web site?
  2. What are they clicking on when they land on my site and what journey are they following on the road to conversion?
  3. Are they leaving my site from specific landing pages or abandoning the conversion process?
  4. Are the goals I’ve established along my prospect journey performing as I want them to?

Understanding Prospect Journeys

There are four easy-to-configure things that you should be taking advantage of right now to help you understand how your digital marketing efforts and web site are performing. They are:

  1. Use Google Search Console.
  2. Use Campaign URL Builder.
  3. Configure and Deploy Google Tags using Google Tag Manager.
  4. Set Goals in Google Analytics.
The four Google Analytics capabilities discussed in this article (shown above) are central components to enhancing your understanding of your prospect journey from initial marketing outreach through goal/conversion achievement.

Google Search Console

Wouldn’t it be great if you knew what keywords people were typing into their search engines that led them to your web site? Or better yet, wouldn’t it be great if you knew where you ranked in Google for keywords and phrases that are important to your industry or business?

Problem solved. Google Search Console enables you to analyze your site’s impressions, clicks, and position on Google Search. Start by verifying your ownership of your site at Google Search Console (https://search.google.com/search-console/welcome). Then you’ll have to allow Google some time to collect data.

Once your Search Console activation is complete and running, you will be able to dig into your search results. Below is an example from Google’s Demo account.

Google Search Console is accessible through the Acquisition menu. It shows what people were searching for, how many clicks/impressions your site tallied, and where your site/page ranks in Google for those particular terms.

Search Console is a great way to understand how people are (and aren’t) finding your site. For example, if your site has an average ranking of 50th for a keyword phrase that is very important to your business, this is a great way to discover that you have some search engine optimization (SEO) work to do on your site to ensure you are in the top results for those searches.

Google Campaign URL Builder

Smart digital marketing efforts will experiment with multiple channels and adjust focus and spending on those channels that perform the best (leads, conversions, etc…).

So, if you really want a clear picture of how your email campaigns are performing compared to your Twitter and Facebook Ads, leveraging Google Campaign URL Builder is a simple way to accomplish that.

Google Campaign URL Builder gives you the power to add campaign parameters to the destination URLs you use in your ad campaigns. This gives you the ability to collect information about the overall efficacy of those campaigns, and also understand where the campaigns are more effective. The best part, however, is that URL Builder feeds those campaign results directly into your Google Analytics Dashboard.

Here’s where you can find the results of your Campaigns in Google Analytics. In the below Demo account, we see Google AdWords campaigns. But for your site you might also have email and social media campaigns producing traffic.

Using Campaign URL Builder in conjunction with your Google Ads, emails, and social media ads can help you pinpoint your most valuable prospect segments, then engage these prospects with customized messaging.

Configure and Deploy Google Tags

Next to setting Goals in Google Analytics, I think using Google Tags on your site pages is one of the most important things you can do (quickly and easily) to improve your understanding of your customers and prospects.

The reality is there are a ton of uses for tags. Tags can tell you how prospects navigate your site, what they click on (including social links that take them off your site), the forms they submit, the files they download, or the shopping carts they abandon.

The great thing about Google Tag Manager (GTM), however, is you don’t need to be an advanced web developer or a coder to develop and deploy tags. After an advanced Google Analytics course and a course in Tag Manager, I was able to get up and running with tags as part of my current content marketing responsibilities in less than one day.

Google Tag Manager is a web-based interface and comes with many pre-designed templates to choose from. However, you will need to have a basic understanding of web design (i.e. classes, elements, IDs, containers, etc…).

Tags trigger events that are recorded in Google Analytics. In the below example, I’ve set tags for video plays, clicks on “learn more” buttons and “Demo Request” buttons, as well as “Buy Now” and e-commerce cart check-out buttons.

The other helpful aspect of GTM is the large number of users and enthusiasts who contribute templates and event tracking functions. Many experts view GTM as a game-changing tool that provides marketing professionals with the ability to leverage tags without any hard coding experience, making the process much simpler and faster.

Set Goals in Google Analytics

You will never fully know what web site content is contributing to your overall business objectives if you haven’t established goals (conversions) in Google Analytics. Of course, you can guess, but that methodology quickly fails once your online business begins to scale beyond your ability to track activity on your own.

So what are goals in Google Analytics? Examples include making a purchase, submitting a form to request more information, downloading a brochure, watching a video, or requesting a product demo. Defining goals is foundational to any successful analytics effort.

Goals can also be assigned a monetary value in Google analytics. Why would you do this? Well, assigning a value to your goals will help you determine which pages or actions on your site are contributing the most value in terms of conversions/revenue.

One aspect of Goals that I love is the ability to establish funnels for destination goals. The path you expect prospects to take on a journey to, say, make a purchase or download marketing collateral, is called a funnel. With Google Analytics, you can monitor where your prospects enter and exit the funnel. Through Google’s visualization capabilities, you can see where some prospects exit the funnel, which indicates a potential problem with that page or step in the conversion process.

A word of caution, however, about what goals will tell you. Goals only apply to your data after you’ve established them in Google Analytics. They are not applied to historical data.

It doesn’t matter if you are an e-commerce business or a services business that leverages its web site for marketing and lead generation — setting goals in Google Analytics is the most important and easiest thing you can do to gain better understanding of how and if your website and marketing messaging is contributing to your business objectives.