Small businesses can’t afford to waste money on inefficient digital marketing campaigns. Not only do you have tighter budgets, but you’re competing against bigger, more recognized brands.
Google Analytics can help you put your money where it can make the biggest impact. Use it to:
- Understand your customers’ location, preferences and purchase behavior
- Improve sales through more targeted lead generation campaigns and remarketing
- Find and correct bottlenecks in your conversion funnel
- Evaluate the efficiency of your SEO, advertising, marketing and social media campaigns
This article will help you set up your Google Analytics Account, set up its reports to answer the most important business questions, and confidently navigate its interface so you can always find the data you need.
Set up your Google Analytics Account
- Open an account.
Go to Google Analytics’ homepage (www.google.com/analytics) and click Start for Free or Sign into Analytics for previous accounts. If this is a shared account, you need permission to edit to add websites, apps and other digital properties.
- Add your digital property.
Click Admin (found on the bottom left) and select your Account. Click Create New Property and select if it is a Website or a Mobile App. Type the website/app name. Tip: if you’ve got several apps, add the edition and version.
Select an Industry Category and Reporting Time Zone. Click Get Tracking ID. You’ll be given a code that you should add to your website through your content management system. If you’re using WordPress, get the Google Analytics plugin so it automatically adds the code to the selected pages.
- Download the Analytics app.
The Analytics app is a lifesaver for busy business owners. Check your reports anytime and anywhere. You can also get real-time data, and save important reports to your dashboard to read them more thoroughly when you have the time.
That’s the basic set-up, but what if you have several businesses or websites? If you have one personal blog or website and want to create another one for your company, then just manage their analytics under your personal Google account. If you run several blogs and/or companies, create a separate Google business account. You can create 50 Google analytics accounts under any Google profile – enough for you to run an ecommerce conglomerate without having to switch profiles.
Configuring your Google Analytics Account
From the Admin panel, you can set up Google according to:
- Who can access it: add team members and limit who can view and edit.
- What data you want: set up goals to monitor specific customer behavior and set a monetary value to each one
- How you want to get your data: customize reporting views
- Where you get your data: link Google ads, Salesforce and other marketing platforms to see how campaigns are influencing traffic and purchase
Let’s look at the most complicated (but the most important!) customizations: goals and reporting.
Set up Goals
What is it: It monitors specific customer behavior, and marks every successful action as a conversion. You can create many different types of goals, but they can be grouped into 4 major categories: You can have a maximum of 20 Google goals running simultaneously.
- Destination: they view a specific website page
- Duration: they stay for a minimum time period
- Event: they did a specific action
- Page/Screens per session: they visited a minimum number of pages
How to do it: Click on the Admin button on the bottom left. Under View, click on Goals and select New Goal. From there, you’ll be led through several drop-down menus that let you set the conditions.
If you picked a Destination goal, you have the option to create a funnel, or a series of steps your customers need to complete in a specific order (i.e., the shopping cart checkout). However, Neil Patel cautions against misusing the Google goal funnel. “Unless required, visitors seldom follow a clear path on your site and a goal funnel won’t help you make any sense of how your visitors move from page to page. For paths with less structure, use the Visitors Flow report.”
If you picked an Event goal, you can set several parameters: category, action, label and value. You don’t have to fill in every field – in fact, if you define all four, the customer must meet all conditions to be seen as a conversion.
Get started: Here are some of the Google Analytics Goals most commonly used by small business owners.
- Account creations / Shopping cart funnels. See if your customers are quitting in the middle of the process. Find and fix the pain point – is it a technical issue or is the process too long or confusing? — and retarget the lost customers to win them back.
- Ad Conversions. Create unique landing pages for your ads so you know which campaigns or channels lead to the most visits and purchases. Use this data to rework your marketing plan, or do A/B tests to find out if using different words or selling to different audiences can getter response.
- Form Completions. You may be using your website to generate leads rather than concrete sales, either by asking them to request a demo or quote, or to leave their email in exchange for a free trial or downloadable. Track the percentage of how many people who signed up actually became paying customers.
- Order Confirmations. Add a “Thank You” page to track completed sales and see how your website contributes to your revenue.
Set up Custom Reports
What it is: You can create up to 25 customized ways of seeing specific data. Let’s say you want the data from your website and app to appear together. Or, you want to filter out data subsets, or do a correlation between two types of behavior.
How to do it: Go to the View column and select Create New View. Click if it’s a website or an app, name it, and select a reporting time zone.
You can edit the View settings anytime from the Admin panel. Just make sure you have one Reporting View that preserves all your original data so you don’t lose any information if you decide to edit or delete a customized view.
Get started: Neil Patel compiled twelve custom Google Analytics reports created by marketing experts. These include a Visitor Acquisition Report so you measure the traffic and conversions you get from different mediums, a Customer Behavior Report so you can compare the traffic and conversions of new and returning visitors, Keyword Analysis Report — and even an Organic Insights Report for keywords you didn’t provide.
Navigate the Google Analytics Interface
Google Analytics’ interface looks more complicated than it really is. Once you get used to it, you’ll be navigating it as intuitively as your phone.
- Audience Overview
Whenever you log into your account, you’ll see your Audience Overview Report right in the center of your screen. It’ll tell you the Sessions, Users, Pages, Pages/Session, Session Duration, Bounce Rate, and Percentage of New Sessions within a given time frame. Click the Date field at the upper right to set a different range or Compare data from two time frames.
Below that, you can get more detailed info about your visitors, such as their location, languages, operating system, and more. Just click on any of them to get a full report.
- Google Reports
In the left sidebar you’ll find all Google Reports. They’re grouped by category, but you can click any of them for a drop-down menu if you’re searching for something specific. Small business owners will most likely need:
- Audience reports answer “Who is my customer?”
Get information on your visitors’ demographics, interests, location, language, behavior, and technology used to access your digital property.
- Acquisition reports answer “How did my customers find me?”
You can see the sources of all your traffic, or go through them by channel or even a specific site. Google can also breakdown the traffic you gained from social media, Google Adwords campaigns, and Google Webmaster search engine optimization.
- Behavior reports answer “How did my customers interact with my content?”
Discover the pages they viewed the most, where they landed and what point they left, and what terms they searched for. Google will also flag pages with sluggish load times – one of the biggest reasons why customers leave a site — and suggest how to improve your overall speed.
- Conversion reports answer “What did my customers decide to do?”
This will probably be the report you’ll check the most. It shows the progress on the Goals you set, and can also help analyze Conversion Paths and Channel Interactions. Most customers don’t convert after just one click. In many cases, visitors will leave and return, interact with your brand through different channels and devices, and explore your site before deciding to buy or sign up. This section will help you track how long it took to convince your customers and understand their purchasing process.
Get started: You can cherry-pick the reports you need, but according to Mainstreet ROI – a digital marketing agency focused on small businesses – these particular reports are particularly crucial for SMEs:
- Traffic Acquisition Report to find out if you’re reaching more visitors
- Source/Medium Report to evaluate if you’re getting a real return on investment from marketing, advertising or SEO campaigns
- Mobile Performance Report to ensure your site is mobile-friendly, since 60% of all searches were done on phone or tablet
- SEO Reports to understand how people are looking for you, and finding you
- Social Media Reports to see how Facebook, Twitter and other channels is driving traffic, leads and publicity
Saving and Sharing Google Reports
- Quickly access important reports. If there’s a Google report you use often, or are following closely because it’s an important business concern, save it to Shortcuts using the link found at the top of each report.
- Export a report to other programs. You can export the report in CSV, TSV, Excel and PDF formats. Just click Export next to the report title and it will be sent to your computer’s Downloads folder.
- Share a report with other people. Click Share next to the report title and add their emails.
These basics can help even the busiest and least-tech savvy entrepreneur use Google Analytics to make better business decisions. You will need to tinker around with the features and practice using it everyday before it feels intuitive. However, we can guarantee that no matter how “complicated” it may seem at the start, it’s still a lot easier than running a business without data. In the end, Google Analytics will make your job a lot simpler.
Author Bio: Danielle Canstello is party of the content marketing team at Pyramid Analytics. They provide enterprise level analytics and insurance business intelligence software. In her spare time, she writes around the web to spread her knowledge of the marketing, business intelligence and analytics industries.