Google Analytics (GA) is widely familiarized and utilized by virtually anyone running a website, from small blogs to mega commerce websites. Sure, some firms choose different analytics suites, but this is the exception that highlights the rule. The unrivaled fee ($0 for the powerful standard version) coupled with enterprise grade features and an easy to use interface – make Google Analytics the default choice for almost everyone.
Yet, it’s surprising how little value has been extracted from GA by most users – compared with the potential. From my experience, most users of Google Analytics add the basic code, and then use it for viewing trivial (if important) data such as traffic sources, conversion rates and basic user behavior trends on the site. But for professional marketers, analytics can offer so much more value by going beyond the trivial use cases. Here are some examples:
Better Understanding User Behavior
Understanding and improving the interaction of users on your site, prior to the conversion. While many marketers focus almost exclusively on hard conversion elements, in reality the persuasion to sign up or fill a lead form is influenced by multiple factors that precede your button or form. It is helpful thus to define steps that indicate that a user is indeed taking interest in your offering, what is sometimes referred to as micro-conversions and can be translated to Google Analytics events. Such interactions can include video views, content actually read, reaching a certain point on a page, link clicks, visiting of certain key pages (for example, pricing page, or terms and conditions) and others.
Splitting your site visitors into segments, for example existing customers vs. new users. Each and every group has different needs and thereby should to be measured and optimized separately. By using custom variables or other implementation methods, GA can show you how each segment is performing against their own relevant key performance indicators (for example signing up in the case of new users, but logging in and staying x amount of time in the case of existing customers segment).
Creating a dashboard visualization of the most important metrics. By creating a dashboard, you can highlight your most critical data, so it can be viewed and tracked at a glance without digging deep into the report. Such shortcuts can prove beneficial for identifying trends and reacting quickly.
Creating custom audiences, for remarketing purposes. GA can offer a user-based view, vs. the tagging approach that advertising platforms employ. This can lead to more powerful targeting, with deeper granularity. In certain cases, it might make sense to define a few “personas” of users, i.e. users that are identified by a common online behavior or business needs. For example, in a certain product there might be a persona of users that are concerned with human support. When identifying this persona / segment of users, and then assigning actual users to this persona (based on their online interactions) a company can command higher conversion rates on this segment by highlighting to them the excellent human support offered, in remarketing campaigns.
Connecting analytics with CRM data. Using tactics such as a server to server pixel, or custom feed, Google Analytics can display CRM data, tied together to the standard metrics. This can give real world view that reflects the company’s actual results.
So how do I Take Analytics to the Next Level
It requires ongoing work on the logical and technical implementation of advanced elements of Google Analytics. Those include, among others, events, segments, audiences, dashboards and variables. It’s most convenient to implement these using Google Tag Manager.
However, in the bigger picture It requires internalizing the importance of data analytics within the realm of a modern business. Following, it requires allocating adequate resources. Building a data-driven culture takes investment in product and analytics professionals, development and other resources. I believe that on a certain level (which differs from company to company), each organization must work to evaluate the potential upside and invest accordingly.
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