Google Analytics: Three Hacks for Actionable Insights

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Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Not to mention email, paid search, and SEO… you do it all. But do you know what’s working? And how do you find out? Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is a powerful tool, but even the most web-savvy digital marketing veterans can find it clunky and confusing. But when you need to stay ahead of the curve and make decisions quickly, you want Google Analytics to do the work for you. Here are three hacks to zero-in on the most important data that will help you determine actionable insights for your business.

UTM Tags in Google Analytics

Google Analytics does a decent job of determining where your web traffic is coming from, but it doesn’t know everything. A UTM tag is a series of extra text that you can add on to any web link you post on social media, send in an email, publish on your website, etc. The tag doesn’t affect where the link directs, but it uses specific parameters to tell Google Analytics information about where the traffic came from and how and why it got there.

You can use this handy tool from Google to build your first UTM tagged link.

In order to get the most use out of your UTM tags, it’s important to set up a specific structure for all of your UTM parameters ahead of time and diligently follow that structure every time you create a new link. Create an internal document that your whole team can reference. This is the best way to make sure that it is easy to segment and organize your Google Analytics data by the channels and campaigns you are running.

Here are some examples of how to set up your UTM parameters. But spend some time to think about what will make the most sense for your business.

Google Analytics - UTMs

Tracking Goals in Google Analytics

You can use the Goals feature in Google Analytics to identify specific behaviors or actions that you would like to pay special attention to because they contribute to the success of your business. For example, if you are running an event and would like to keep track of how many people complete the registration process, you can set up a Goal that tracks all of the users that have visited your registration confirmation page.

There are four main types of Goals:

  • Destination – a user visits a specific web page
  • Duration – a user spends a specific amount of time or longer a specific web page
  • Pages/Screens per session – a user views a specific number of pages/screens during one session
  • Event – an action occurs (for example a link click) that has already been set up as a Google Analytics Event

To learn more about how to set up a Goal, read this article from Google. Once you have created your Goals, you will be able to view new information about each one in the “Conversions” section of Google Analytics Reporting.

Assisted & Last Click Conversions

After implementing proper UTM tagging and setting up Goals, you will be able to see which specific channels and campaigns are helping your business grow.

On the Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions page you can click “Source/Medium” to see a breakdown of the most successful channels according to the UTM parameter that you set up. This view will show you both last-click and assisted conversions. A last click conversion occurs when a user arrives at your website from a specific channel and completes a goal in the same browsing session. An assisted conversion occurs when a user interacts with a channel within 1 to 90 days before actually completing the Goal.

This breakdown provides some of the most insightful data you can get with Google Analytics. It will show you which channels are contributing to your customers’ decision journey, and which are not. Say you are spending a large percentage of your marketing budget on social media. You look at the last click conversions and now you can see that they are primarily from direct and organic search traffic. This leads you to believe that time and money you are spending on your social media campaigns is going to waste. However, when you view the assisted conversions, you see that over 30% of people who completed your Goal interacted with your social media campaigns within 90 days of conversion. This indicates that your social media campaign is effectively educating your target audience about your product or offering. Additionally, you see that although your team spends 10 hours a week running emails campaigns, fewer than 10% of your assisted conversions and 5% of your last click conversions come from email. This indicates that you should further investigate your email campaign performance and perhaps adjust the frequency, timing, or messaging of your campaigns.

With these three hacks you can use Google Analytics to quickly view the most important data for your business and spend time where it counts – adjusting your strategy to grow your business!