Seven Things You Didnt Know You Could Do With Google
IntroductionGoogle Analytics is a fantastic and powerful tool for tracking your website activity and using that data to inform and improve your marketing strategy. Theres so much Google Analytics can do, but a lot of institutions arent using it to fully maximise their marketing efforts from the insights available to them.
In this whitepaper, well explore some of the lesser-known functions of GA and its related tools and practices, which can help you maximise your institutions data, measure success and report smarter to fulfil your objectives.
1. Create a measurement plan 2. Future proof your tracking tags 3. Utilise the power of Google Tag Manager 4. Refine your view to the relevant data 5. Target outcomes by defining your goals 6. Measure the campaign source of your users 7. Fully customise your reporting
1 Create a measurement planWithout a focus, its easy to get lost in the endless mounds of data that GA provides. Creating a measurement plan will ensure you have a purpose for your analytics, define which measurements are important, and explain how your data analysis contributes to achieving your institutions overall objectives.
To create a measurement plan, first set your objectives. This could be to increase enrolments on a Chemistry course, for example.
Next, decide what key performance indicators will give you a measure of how well you are achieving this objective. In this example, this could be generating leads through an enquiry form for the Chemistry course.
Finally, decide which measurable metrics from GA directly contribute to the KPI: the number of visits to the landing page hosting the enquiry form.
2 Future proof your tracking tags.There are two versions of the Google Analytics tracking code. This is the piece of code that sits in your websites HTML and sends data about your websites visitors into your GA Property.
Theres the Classic Analytics (CA) tracking tag, which looks like this:
And the newer Universal Analytics (UA) tracking tag, which looks like this:
At first glance, it might seem like theyre doing the same job (sending information about a page view into Google Analytics) but there are some important differences between the tags that make it beneficial to ensure you have Universal Analytics implemented on your website.
Classic Analytics Universal Analytics
Original version of the tracking code released in 2009
Has stopped receiving new features
No longer supported by Google
Sends incorrect data when a user navigates multiple subdomains
Limited options for sending custom data
More powerful tracking system introduced in 2013
Regularly updated with new features
Supports subdomain tracking without changing the code
Supports both custom dimensions and custom metrics
The most important difference between the tracking tags is that Classic Analytics is no longer supported by Google, and will eventually stop working after the code is deprecated by Google in 2016. It is less reliable and doesnt receive new features or updates. Universal Analytics is future proof, and will provide you with far more reliable data.
3 Utilise the power of Google Tag ManagerGoogle Tag Manager is a piece of code that you place on every page of your website. It looks like this:
This one single piece of code is small but incredibly powerful, as it acts as a replacement for any other tracking tags you might want to implement on your site. By using GTM, you can quickly and easily add new tracking tags (for a particular campaign, for example) to every page of your site, simply by using the GTM user interface. This is simple to do, and eliminates the need to ask your web team to install multiple tags for you.
There are many other benefits of using Google Tag Manager, such as triggers and tag preview in particular.
Setting up triggers allows you to fire tag(s) whenever a user performs a particular action on your site. So, when a user performs the action that you define (such as clicking a button, visiting a particular URL, or completing a conversion action) any tag (such as a GA event tracking tag or a conversion tag from an advertising platform) will be activated. You can fire as many tags as you want from one trigger.
Action on website GTM trigger
Google Tag Managers tag preview feature allows you to test that your triggers and tags are working before you finalise your GTM container. In preview mode, youll see a list of tags that are set up to fire on the page that youre currently viewing, and you can ensure tags are working in the way that they should. Without Google Tag Manager, this would be very difficult to do.
4 Refine your view to the relevant data
We recommend having three views set up:
UA Tag Property
When reporting on your analytics, you only want to include the data that is useful and relevant. Using filters allows you to refine the data you see, and remove the data you dont; such as web traffic from inside your institution or from web crawlers or spam bots.
This diagram shows the flow of data from the tracking tag on your website, through to your view on the Google Analytics interface. As you can see, before the data reaches your view, you can filter out any irrelevant information. You can also set up multiple views to utilise multiple filters.
where you can test new filters.
A permanent copy of your unfiltered data, should you ever need a back up.
which will filter out internal traffic and spam. This is where youll do your reporting.
5 Target outcomes by defining your goals
When you define your goals in Google Analytics, you gain the ability to report on key stats for analysing the success of your website and marketing campaigns. You can set up many different goals, which are likely to be one of your measurable metrics from your measurement plan; something that contributes to your overall objectives.
So thinking back to your measurement plan: if your objective was to enrol more students in a Chemistry course, and your KPI to measure this was to increase the number of students filling out an enquiry form, your goal (your measurable metric) could be that student reaching the thank you page after submitting the form.
By defining this thank you page as a destination goal, you will enrich your Google Analytics data with information on how many people performed that goal.
Some of the most important stats to consider are Goal Completions (how many users complete your goal) and Goal Conversion Rate (the percentage of visits to your site that result in a goal completion), because these relate directly to how well youre achieving your objectives.
Destination Goal defined
Enquiry form Redirect to unique URL
6 Measure the campaign source of your users
When youre running a marketing campaign, Google Analytics can tell you how users act on your website when theyve clicked through to your site from that campaign. This could be a paid ad, an email or a social media campaign thats linked to your current marketing activity and brings users to a landing page on your website.
When you create your email, paid ad, or social post, you provide your audience with a link. But by simply adding a UTM parameter to this link, Google Analytics will be able to track which specific campaigns are driving the most traffic to your site, and how these users behave when they get there, separately from your everyday users.
A URL containing added UTM parameters looks like this:
In this example, were tracking the users that click through from an email relating to 2016 Clearing activity. This version of the link would be embedded within that email.
For a sponsored Facebook post, relating to that same Clearing campaign, the UTM parameters would be: campaign=2016-clearing, source=sponsored, medium=facebook.
By adding UTM parameters to links, Google Analytics will add the data you specify to your user data, and youll be able to report on how successful your campaigns are.
Here there are three parameters added to the original landing page URL:
You can view your campaigns against any metrics you like. In this example, you can see that users arriving from google CPC ads are more frequently completing a goal, whereas Facebook social campaigns are driving the most traffic.
7 Fully customise your reporting
One of the downsides of Google Analytics is that it can be quite impenetrable. Theres so much data at your fingertips, but not all of it will be relevant to you. By creating custom reports and custom dashboards, you can trim out the useless data, and present your analytics in a clearer, more useful way.
Custom reporting allows you to specify which dimensions, metrics and data are included in your report. In this example, weve specified that we want to only see the unique page views, bounce rate, and the average time on page for specific course pages.
Custom dashboards are similar to custom reports, but presented in a more streamlined way. This is often useful for presenting your analytics to senior management who want a top line overview of the most important metrics. You can even create multiple custom dashboards for different people in your organisation, depending on which metrics will be most useful for their job role.
Both custom dashboards and custom reports are easily shared by link or scheduled emails.
The limitations of Google Analytics custom dashboards and reports is that they are only available from within the GA interface, and are only visible to users with reporting access. However, it is possible to extract your GA data itself from the platform by using the API. The API (Application Programming Interface) works by using scripted commands to pull data out of your web property and into another platform, such as a Spreadsheet tool, database, CRM system, or any other tool for handling data.
Dashboards Custom Report Tools
Your Own Database
Whats particularly useful about this is that you can combine your GA data with data from other sources to create your own custom reporting environment, for example by combining your GA data with ad stats, information from your CRM, social media, or any other statistics that youd like to report on, enabling a true holistic overview of your institutions digital performance.
Google Analytics Audit Tracking and Tag Audit
Google Analytics Basic/Advanced/Bespoke Training
Google Tag Manager Training
Measurement Plan and Implementation
Tracking and Tag Implementation
Google Analytics Set-Up & Implementation
Reporting and Dashboards
If you have any questions or would like any help with your Google Analytics, please get in touch with our Google Analytics expert and Web Analyst, Lucian Glenny.
e: firstname.lastname@example.org t: 01273 734640
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