Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool, but sadly one that often gets pushed to the side in many SMEs. Entrepreneurs tend to either go with their gut feelings, or do not have the time to set up and look at their data correctly.
But are they making a big mistake? At Harvest, data is at the heart of everything that we do. So we often wonder, why do so many businesses not use the data that is available to them?
You should be using Google Tag Manager, not Google Analytics
What I mean by this is, you should be using Google Tag Manager (GTM) as a container for all your other code.
Google Analytics is incredibly powerful, but when you’re making changes to your site, it can be hard to keep track of what code is implemented across which pages. Updating your header section can be costly, and time consuming.
Instead, Google Tag Manager lets you update not just Google Analytics, but also any other tracking codes you might want to use (Quantcast Measure, Facebook Pixels, AdWords Conversion Tracking, remarketing pixels, Doubleclick Floodlight etc. The list is endless)
What you should be doing is having the GTM code on every page, and then using the Google Analytics tag inside your GTM.
Set up your goals correctly
There are many different ways that you can track goals in Google Analytics. Unfortunately, this often means that goals are set up incorrectly, with many business owners not knowing which type of goal to use for a specific conversion.
Let’s start with the basic goal and work up to the more complex ones.
URL destination goal
URL destination goals keep track of the number of times a specific URL is visited. Each time a page is visited, the goal is triggered.
Typically, this type of goal is perfect for confirmation pages, thank you page and PDFs.
Be careful when setting this up, as certain checkboxes can render this goal value useless. For example, pay attention to the case sensitive box and the match type box.
You can also get more information on the match types here.
The other type of goal that you’ll probably use is Event Goals. These are usually slightly more complicated to set up, because you’ll need to set up the events first. However, once the events are set up, you can easily select any event as a goal.
If you’re not sure how to set up an event, Google Analytics have their own Event Tracking Guide here.
Event tracking can be used for almost anything, including tracking external links, downloads, time spent watching videos, social media buttons and widget usage.
There are other types of goals as well, but these will come at a later stage once you’ve mastered the first two types.
Make sure you track the right metrics
Once you’ve done all of this, you should be ready to draw insights from your data. However, this only works if you know what to look out for.
Conversions are the most important metric on your site. If you’re not selling your product or service, you won’t be in business for very long.
For ecommerce sites, your primary conversion will be sales. However, you can have secondary goals, such as newsletter signups and enquiries. Obviously, the higher conversion rate the better.
If you find that your site has a low conversion rate compared to the industry average, you might want to have better calls to action, or stronger content.
Next up, try looking at your traffic sources. You should be evaluating where your traffic is coming from so that you know where to focus your efforts.
Traffic sources are found under the Acquisition tab in Google Analytics.
Google breaks this down into six sources for most accounts. Organic search, Direct, Referral, Social and Paid Search. You can learn more about the channel types here.
Look at what isn’t working and try to fix that. For example, if your organic search traffic isn’t converting, you may need to try and optimise your landing pages a bit more.
Exit pages are incredibly important and often overlooked. An exit page does what it says on the tin, and is the page that people exit your site from.
Exit pages can be found in Behaviour > Site Content > Exit Pages.
Constantly monitoring your exit pages is a great way to check for bugs in your site. For example, if you see that a lot of people are exiting your site during the checkout process, you may find that the checkout process is broken, frustrating users and causing them to leave.
Once you’ve done all this, you should have your analytics all set up correctly. Make sure that you routinely check your data to see what is working for you and what is not.