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Most people know that Google Analytics is a powerful analytics service that helps to improve website and business performance by tracking and analysing traffic. In fact, it is the web’s most widely used analytics tool. But it is only when you dig deeper into its feature sets and begin to customise it according to your needs that you appreciate its true capabilities.
Expert users of Google Analytics discover an entirely new level of understanding of their market, including segments, behaviours and purchase drivers. This knowledge combines with product, presentation and marketing strategies to create a measurable advantage over competitors.
In part one of this three-part series, we look at how to get started with Google Analytics, with expert guidance from Google Analytics expert Aditi Bajpayi.
If you don’t already have a Google Analytics account, you’ll need to create one at google.com/analytics. Within that account, set up the new property – your website, for instance, or perhaps an app – and set the reporting time zone. Getting the time zone right is vital if you want to understand how your customers are behaving – whether they’re visiting you before or after work, for instance.
Then follow on-screen instructions to set up the type of tracking that most suits your needs. You will be offered a website tracking code to paste into the important pages of your site, as well as other tracking options for various types of sites and businesses.
Once your account is set up, a specific e-commerce code can be added to your site. Do this through your account page, via the property (website or app) you’re interested in, and select ‘Ecommerce settings’.
Here you will be able to switch ‘Enable Ecommerce’ on and customise other tracking tools according to the shape of your business. And already the proper set-up of your Google Analytics account is becoming important – for some of the tracking set-up tools you will have had to add Basic Page Tracking (part of the previous step) to your site.
A tool is useless if you don’t know how to use it. Get to know Google Analytics by visiting support.google.com/analytics. Here, click ‘Find your way around Analytics’ and spend some quality time discovering exactly what this gizmo can do. This section offers a very clear and simple guided tour of various features and controls, including links to video tutorials.
From here you can also navigate through to similarly helpful pages that will teach you about various ways to manage and configure your Google Analytics tool so you only receive the information you need, rather than being swamped by data.
By now you are beginning to realise the broad and all-encompassing nature of Google Analytics. Don’t try to engage with all of it at once, but rather get the basics right, then continue learning as you go.
The final essentials to take care of at this point are customising your reports and applying segments. Once again, within your account page you can click the ‘Customization’ tab and select ‘+New custom report’. Give your report a title and, if you need more than one tab for your reports, add more.
Experiment within this section to see the numerous ways a report can be customised and viewed. This is immensely valuable as it will help you focus on vital data whilst blocking out distractions.
Finally, witness the magic of filters in your reports by applying or removing segments. In your account page open the view containing your reports and click the ‘Reporting’ tab. At the top of that tab you will see ‘Add segment’.
Here you will be offered various ways to narrow your view, to concentrate only on ‘returning shoppers’, for instance, or on ‘paid search traffic’, ‘mobile users’ or ‘organic users’. Apply the segments you desire and they will remain active over your reports until you remove them.
Get these basics right and you’ll be well on your way to understanding and utilising Google Analytics, offering you a unique view into the online behaviour of your customers and potential clients.
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