Are you analyzing the online viewership data for your business? If you want to gain better insights into your target audience and get a better return on investment for your website, Google Analytics is one of the best tools to use. Once you have the data in front of you, the next question is how to actually analyze those analytics. The lists and charts can be confusing and make little sense if you don’t know what you’re looking at, so Virtual Market Advantage has created a list of analytics basics, so that you can learn exactly how to read your analytics data and then know what to do with it from there.
Ask a Question
Instead of just reviewing every little detail on Google Analytics or any other analytics tool, your first step should be to form a question that you need to answer. This will ensure that you get some information you actually need rather than get lost and waste productive hours in a sea of data. How else can you find the data you actually need to look for if you didn’t know what problem you want to solve? After you’ve asked your question and looked for information to support the answer, it’s a good idea to do some A/B testing to see what works best for your website. A/B testing works best when you’re using analytics tools to oversee the results!
Set Some Goals
It’s pretty obvious to a business owner to set goals, but often this part is overlooked when it comes to Google Analytics. To get this going, consider these points for your goals:
- Write down your goals.
- Organize the goals in a reasonable way.
- Configure the goals with goal values.
When doing these steps, make sure you have all of your goals configured with a value attached to each one. Know your main goal (macro goal), but also be aware of the smaller goals (your minor and micro goals).
Set Up Annotations
Annotations can greatly help with tracking your business through analytics. Here are some examples of what you can track by setting up annotations:
- Offline campaigns.
- Weather extremes.
- Traffic spikes in social media.
- Start of new online campaigns.
- Tracking issues within your website.
Just remember that while it can be great to track so many factors on your website, you don’t want to get carried away. For example, analysts don’t tend to need ten annotations for each day, as that would provide more information than necessary for most businesses. Just keep it simple, and only track the information that you need for your current questions and goals.
Personalize Your Data with Custom Segments
You can always start with a default overall analysis, but Google Analytics also allows you to customize which segments of data you want to see more prominently. These segments help you quickly analyze the most pertinent data and allow you to directly compare data from up to four segments at a time. It can also give you the history of each segment, allowing you to go back and look at what may or may not have worked in the past.
Build Custom Reports
Along with being able to customize segments of your data to collect and compare, you're also offered the option to build a custom report tailored to your business and its data. Every business has its own set of goals that it wants to accomplish, so why should your report look like every other business report? These types of reports are directly related to your metrics and dimensions. Google Analytics allows you to build custom reports from scratch, as well as add in standard reports to your custom ones. It’s easy to set up these custom reports - all you need to do is go to the ‘Customization’ tab and start building your custom report.
Integrate with Other Tools
Aside from just using Google Analytics, you’re also able to build upon this data by incorporating other tools to help read your customer base more clearly. At a minimum, you should integrate Google AdWords and Google Webmaster Tools. Both of these will help you reach your customers and better understand what makes them visit your site or click on your ads. Combining the data sets together is a surefire way to really get to know your business and the customers it’s reaching.
Apply Report Shortcuts
Along with building your customized reports and setting up Google Analytics so you only see the data you need through annotations and segments, you can also set up shortcuts. This is another way to make the visible data more streamlined and helpful. This step can be done from the ‘Reporting’ or ‘Customization’ tabs inside Google Analytics.
There are many steps you can take to more easily reach your customers and help develop your business online, but learning how to analyze your analytics is one of the best ways to get this done. Once you set up your data to reflect exactly what you need to see, you are sure to see the benefits for your business if you follow up on the data you find. It can seem overwhelming at first, but by taking some of the simple steps discussed above, you will be able to read your analytics data like never before and watch more visitors turn into customers!