At CenterRock Advertising, we find comfort in the numbers, a place to seek information and find answers. But the most valuable information is often buried a bit beneath the surface. Luckily, we’ve done the digging for you and have excavated the hidden data gems to help you get useful information in Google Analytics.
Do you say “data” or “data”? When it comes to analyzing data, not only is there a lot of it to examine but also, a lot of ways to examine it. [Not-so] fun fact: did you know that there are 78 standard reports provided in Google Analytics? 78. Plus the option to create customized reports that provide relevant information specific to you and your customers. Don’t let the data overload set in– having enough information to create 78 reports is a good thing, a GREAT thing. This gives you the opportunity to find nearly any piece of trackable information that you may be looking for. Now you just need to know how to sift through the layers to find your meaningful artifacts.
We all know the key to digital marketing is measuring the results. The main KPIs are important, but what else should you be looking at? Google Analytics is a robust reporting software that provides SO. MUCH. DETAIL. Besides the basics, i.e. the number of sessions, cost-per-click, number of conversions, etc., you want to know the who(s)-what(s)-when(s)-where(s)-why(s) of your website. Here are what we find to be the five most underrated, underutilized, and undervalued features of Google Analytics.
We all want to see the numbers. We want to know which sources are providing the most valuable ROI for our time and money, but how do we find that knowledge?
A UTM code (Urchin Tracking Module) is a simple code you add to a URL for digital marketing campaigns that send traffic directly to your website. When a user clicks this link and arrives at your website, the tags are sent to Google Analytics, properly tracking the source, medium, content, and campaign of this specified user. Basically, it tells us exactly what it was that got this person to your website.
Do you want to see how successful your email marketing campaign was, versus the social advertising you’ve been conducting on Facebook? In order to differentiate where the site traffic is coming from, the URLs have to be tagged with qualifiers unique to specific campaigns.
Failure to use UTM codes will result in the erroneous categorization of traffic in Google Analytics, masking your ability to conduct accurate and effective campaign analysis. If we run a social media campaign and don’t use UTM codes, the traffic will still land at your website, but it will be sourced as ‘direct’ traffic rather than ‘social’. How are you going to establish the social media success story to your client if it doesn’t appear that there actually is any site traffic from your social campaigns in Google Analytics?
Take a look at the link below.
It may appear confusing, but when we break it down, there isn’t nearly as much to it as it seems. There are a total of five parameters available for tracking in Google Analytics. Explore the parameter chart below for an overview of each:
Now that we’ve identified the parameters, rather than manually adapting the URLs, the easiest way to create them is through Google’s Campaign URL Builder Tool. Input your parameters, and the tool will automatically populate the URL for you to use in your digital campaign. Pro Tip: Use consistent UTM parameters month-to-month for comparative results.
Now that you’ve created your campaign with the utilization of UTM codes, it’s time to track the acquisition, behavior, and conversion results.
How To Find: Acquisition → Campaigns → All Campaigns → Secondary Dimension → Source/Medium
When it comes to website traffic, not only do we want to know demographic information about who the users are, but we also want to know how they are viewing our site. It’s like, sure, we want to know WHO let the dogs out, that’s a great question. But we also need to get to the bottom of HOW they got out, and WHERE they are headed now that they’ve escaped.
The behavior reports in Google Analytics offer useful insights into the user journey on your website. How are they moving through the website? Are they interacting with your content? By understanding the user experience, we can optimize the website to increase performance– give the people what they want!
How To Find: Behavior → Site Content → Content Drilldown
The Content Drilldown Report is a high-level organizational view of your website content along with engagement metrics to determine where on your site users are interacting (or not… dun-dun-dunnnn). This report will help you determine if there are sections of your website that are underperforming and need to be refined or are meeting your expectations.
The engagement metrics included in this report are:
1) Pageviews | The total number of times a page has been viewed. Multiple views of the same page are counted.
2) Unique Pageviews | The number of sessions during which the specified page was viewed at least once. A unique pageview is counted for each Page URL + Page Title combination.
3) Average Time on Page | The average amount of time spent viewing a specific page or screen.
4) Bounce Rate | The percentage of single-page sessions in which there was no interaction with the page. A bounced session has a duration of zero seconds.
5) % Exit | (number of exits) / (number of pageviews) for the page. It indicates how often users exit from that page.
Upon first glance, the report depicts the Page Level Path 1, however, when you click into each page, you will see the path that the user took from the initial site entrance. This translates into the top folders of content on the website, and the top content within that folder.
How To Find: Behavior → Behavior Flow
The Behavior Flow Report gives you a clear visual representation of the path that visitors commonly take on your website from the landing page to the exit page. This flowchart depicts the drop-offs at each further interaction. Understanding the users’ site journey as well as where they exit your site can help identify potential content issues and optimize accordingly.
Annotations allow you to add context to important events based on what may have affected your data in otherwise inexplicable ways. As is the world of marketing, there are often so many multi-channel campaigns occurring at once, it’s easy to lose track of all of the possible data-altering events. With annotations, you can create month-over-month or year-over-year reports and easily see what caused the spikes or dips in the dataset. When annotations may be useful:
1) New digital marketing campaigns (search, social, display, etc.)
2) Email marketing campaigns
3) Launch offline marketing campaign (TV, event, etc.)
4) Website changes (new website provider, revamp w/ additional content, etc.)
5) Website issues
How To Find: Audience → Audience Overview → + Add Segment → Advanced Segments
With Google Analytics filled to the brim with data (let us not forget that there are 78 provided reports), it’s crucial to break down the available data into meaningful segments.
Advanced segments are subsets of data that allow you to isolate and analyze information based on specific criteria. There are five subsets of custom advanced segments as follows:
1) Demographics | age, gender, language, affinity category, location
2) Technology | operating system, browser, screen resolution, device, mobile
3) Behavior | number of visits, days since last visit, visit duration
4) Date of First Visit | when users first visited the site
5) Traffic Sources | campaign, medium, source, keyword fields
Creating custom segments gives you the opportunity to see which channels drive the best traffic, which age groups visit specific pages on the website, to see specific keywords you are targeting with Google Ads, and to track those well-executed UTM codes we learned about earlier 😉.
If you thought that was cool, just wait until you see Conditions and Sequences! WOW, you are in for a treat.
Conditions give you the capability to filter by single or multi-session. In the example below, see that we have filtered the data by source/medium to group all of the search engine organic traffic.
With sequential conditions, you have the ability to create custom segments for users and their visits. In the example below, we want to segment users by acquisition source, in this case, Google/CPC, that visit the new vehicle landing page.
There are thousands of segmentation iterations with Advanced Segments in order to learn more about your website traffic– all you have to do is determine what segments will be most meaningful to help interpret the data and make qualified decisions.
How To Find: Conversions → Multi-Channel Funnels → Assisted Conversions
With cross-channel digital marketing campaigns, there are many possible touchpoints along the online customer journey. Imagine you’re searching for the perfect wireless charger for your brand new smartphone (shoutout to my fellow Android fans, where you at!)
You might start the search in Google. You type “best wireless phone charger” into the search bar. You scroll through the Shopping Results, read up on that Business Insider article, and then you scan a few websites for your initial research. As you browse the web, you notice display ads all featuring those chargers you previously had your eye on. Later that day, you’re served with a retargeting social ad on Facebook. You click the ad and head back onto the store website. You’re not quite ready to commit just yet, so a couple of days later you head to the nearest mall to check these bad boys out in person. You found your charger. The wireless charger to rule them all. But rather than buy in person, you decide to sign up for the newsletter, giving you an additional 15% off. BOOYAH. You get back home, go directly to the website and make your final purchase. Like a BOSS.
Now, as you were working your way through that doozy of a purchase, Google Analytics was following your digital journey. It tracked your purchase, along with every touchpoint that had an impact along the way. So how does Google determine what gets the credit?
Google Analytics provides seven different attribution models to declare different weights to each channel on the conversion path. The attribution models are as follows:
1) Last Interaction | the last touchpoint receives 100% credit (in this case, Direct)
2) Last Non-Direct Click | all direct traffic is ignored– 100% credit goes to the last channel the customer clicked through before converting (in this case, Social Network)
3) Last Google Ads Click | the last Google Ads click receives 100% credit (in this case, Paid Search)
4) First Interaction | the first touchpoint receives 100% credit (in this case, Paid Search)
5) Linear | each touchpoint in the conversion path receives equal credit (i.e. if there are 4 channels, each channel receives 25% credit)
6) Time Decay | the touchpoints closest in time to the conversion receive the most credit (in this case, Direct would receive the most credit, followed by Social Network, Display, and then Paid Search)
7) Position Based | 40% credit is assigned to the first and last interaction, and the remaining 20% is distributed between the middle interactions (Direct and Paid Search receive 40% each, Display and Social Network receive 10% each)
By looking at the number of conversions as well as assisted conversions that each digital channel receives, you will see trends at how each channel is used along the customer journey, allowing you to shift budget, content, etc. to best meet the objectives of the consumers. And that’s what it’s all about!
The next time you spend time in your Google Analytics account, explore with these underrated features and you might just find something outstanding. Do you have some of your own underrated features you want to share? Leave them in the comments below!
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