So. You have big plans for your new website. It’s going to have the perfect colour palette, super-cool animation, and a whizz-bang widget. Yep, sure.
All jokes aside, we would OBVIOUSLY make sure you had the website with everything – looks, brains and personality. And all three of those things are important. But what is the value of a site that you think is appealing to your audience, you think is the reason for that uplift in enquiries, if you aren’t able to quantify those assumptions. This is where data comes in. Good old-fashioned boring data.
The truth is, Google Analytics gives us access to more than just how many visitors have come through our site over a chosen time frame. Sure, it takes a bit of time to set up, and you might need some help from a web developer along the way, but done properly it can give invaluable insights into how people are interacting with the site, and its overall effectiveness.
Here are a few reports that you can use to maximise the power of GA (Google Analytics).
Events and Goals
Google uses movement between pages on your site to track a visitor’s journey through your website. What if you want to track an important user interaction that occurs on the same URL? Say, for example, an embedded video view, a pdf download, or a click on an external link (online booking site, email link etc). These can be tracked by inserting a custom piece of code into that action, in the back end of your site, and setting that action up as an event in your GA.
The most crucial of these events can be turned into goals (be careful – there is a limit to how many you can have), along with visits to particular URLs, time spent on a page, or the number of pages visited during one session. Have a think about your most important website actions.
If your site is a busy one, it could be tempting to just sit and watch, in real-time, what your active users are doing! But what this report is handy for is testing. If you have just added a new customisation (event, goal, etc) to your Google Analytics and you want to check that it is working, just have a quick click-around in your site and see it reflected immediately in your analytics.
Acquisition and Campaigns
Under your standard Acquisition reports in GA, you can see information about how visitors arrive at your website, which is obviously crucial to effective marketing strategy and increasing the right traffic to your site.
Within Acquisition sits Campaigns. Still containing information about how visitors have reached your website, Campaigns uses customized URLs to give more detailed information about the sources of your traffic. The Campaigns report automatically groups together traffic from activity either specifically classed as, or assumed as a “campaign”. This includes:
- Email campaigns (if tracking is enabled/integrated)
- Google Ads campaigns or other paid text advertising (Paid Keywords) etc
Beyond these automated campaigns, you can also track your own custom campaigns in this area, using UTM parameters. Basically, any link to your site could be tracked using one of these custom URLs: the links from your email signature, links from a digital PDF, or maybe you could use different links for each ad in a Facebook campaign to see which creative is the most effective. Using Google’s URL Builder you set the campaign source, medium, and name, so it can be as broad a classification as you like.
You may see a blue banner across the top of your GA platform, inviting you to activate Google Signals. At the moment, when we track users, what we are really looking at is devices: so if I visit your site on my mobile and laptop simultaneously, you are seeing that as two ‘users’. While still in beta, this feature will give you the power to track signed in users across devices, be it multiple browsers, mobile apps, mobile devices and more.