So what’s the deal with Google Analytics?

As graduation approaches and the looming fear/nervousness/excitement ensues, I find myself on job listings, often.  Almost everywhere I look, opportunities for marketers require Google Analytics Certification (or at least strongly recommend it), and as a part of Digital Marketing here at WWU, we are becoming certified for its benefits and a grade.  Okay, so going through the lessons is time consuming, learning the platform is hard at first, and maybe a little frustrating, but this stuff is really employable.  Prior to digimark 3.1 I kept asking myself, “so what’s the deal with Google Analytics?”  And after taking the course, I finally get it.

Google is in the business of running the world, and helps businesses part-time.  The fact that “googled” is a verb in the dictionary, further proves my point.  We’ve already talked about how becoming Google friendly can help your organic and paid SEO, but how does Google work for you and your business?

Let’s go over some of the most interesting features I’ve learned about during my Google Analytics education:

Goal Setting

Setting goals image

Before you can even begin thinking about how you want to attract customers and lead them to convert, you need to have some goals in mind.  Setting goals is one of the primary steps in creating a holistic Google Analytics account, and vital to implementation and tracking campaign success.  First, you set up a measurement plan and decide on key performance indicators (KPIs).  This can be a very valuable practice for the business as well as management.  If you’ve never had the discussion of your key ways to track success, you might not know (or agree on) what makes the business tick.  There is also opportunity to hear many perspectives and prove or disprove a KPI that someone suggests.

It’s important to keep in mind the process of goal setting looks different at every business.  For e-commerce businesses, goals are all about making a sale, but at businesses whose website is aimed at creating leads, their macro conversion is receiving a new email.

These goals can be based on destinations, events, or engagement.  For e-commerce, destination goals should quantify how many sales they’ve made.  In this example, the destination would be the purchase confirmation page.  Event goals are better suited for micro conversions in e-commerce, and could be anything from the user watching an informational product review video to downloading a PDF.  Additionally, engagement, such as page duration and pages per visit can be measured as a goal.  For informational sites, long duration could mean your information is too hard to find, but for a product blog, long duration could mean the visitor read the entire post- context is everything!

E-commerce Tracking

Ecommerce tracking image

Have you ever wondered where your best online business is coming from? Or asked yourself how you can find more of these customers? Although you may have a hunch, hunches generally don’t sell data drive executives, they need facts.  With Google Analytics you have the ability to see not only where these visitors came from, but also how and what caused them to convert.  The beauty of e-commerce tracking is the capability it has to go above and beyond goal tracking.  A goal conversion can only be counted once during a visit, but an e-commerce transaction can be counted multiple times during a visit.  This means that you can see the exact steps you lead took before they became your customer.  By knowing exactly what content converted, you are able to make more of that great content.  And once more, you know where that visitor came from so you can launch mini campaigns in different online communities based on what exactly leads these individuals to your desired outcome.  The cherry on top?  It’s all based on real data, so you will surely make those data driven executives smitten.

Google’s Network

Google AdWords and Analytics network Image

Of course, the geniuses at Google have come up with a way to encourage businesses to use not just Analytics, but several of their other products such as Google AdWords, Google AdSense or Google Webmaster.  Have you ever wondered how your Google AdWords tags are translating to actual sales?  With AdWords you can see things like click-through rates, but what is the behavior of the user like when they’ve reached your landing page? This marriage tells businesses things like how your AdWords campaign driving sales with exact measurements like return on investment, already integrated into your Analytics account for reporting.  You have the ability to see which Google AdWords tags led to conversions and tailor your next campaigns, right now.  The data becomes richer, while your business becomes richer.  An opportunity for re-marketing also awaits.  Have you ever been browsing Facebook when suddenly those adorable booties that made you swoon suddenly show up on the sidebar?  It’s oh so tempting (and a little creepy), but you know what?  It works.  And it’s called re-marketing.

But folks, don’t take it from me.  Check out these countless success stories from Google Analytics users.  Sound like Google is making big changes for businesses of every size.  So I guess, that’s the deal with Google Analytics.

Google Image

Side Note: I’m taking the Google Analytics IQ Exam on Tuesday, wish me luck!

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