Your website data contains a lot of useful proprietary information that will be of value to you at multiple stages of your business development. Whether it is evidence of the size of your audience/customer base, or the regions and markets you are operating in; for purposes of scaling up your business efforts, demonstrating scope to investors, or building new marketing campaigns. It is important that the information you have is accurate and shows a true sentiment of your website or mobile application’s activity.
Google Analytics is a free tool that many businesses use, but without properly investing the time to set up an analytics account properly, you might not be getting all of the value that the tool provides. So whilst you can achieve automated data collection, and easily customizable reports and dashboards, it’s important that you start with good, clean, reliable data.
You own your data
You own your data, but investors, agencies, consultants, or even just your internal team will benefit from access to quality data. You cannot go back in time and improve the data that has already been connected, so start with an implementation you can trust. Maintain your analytics account regularly so that the information is accurate and shows an accurate picture of the activity on your website.
Google analytics is free but it is worth the extra investment of having it set up correctly and optimized to provide the best value to your business. An agency is best equipped to set up your Google Analytics account because, to be set up properly, it requires experience and knowledge with the platform, technical knowledge to set up tags and tracking parameters, as well experience in digital marketing that informs the goals and direction of your account set up.
Three Views. When you build an analytics account you should have at least three Views under any given property (your website). Keep one Raw View that has no filters or goals but keeps the data pure – in the future, if you ever need to make new Views, you can build it from the Raw View. The second View should be your Main View, this will be the View that you rely on regularly and has been filtered and optimized for your needs. The third View should be your Test View, used for testing filters, and other customizable elements before they are migrated into your Main View.
Google Tag Manager. We recommend using Google Tag Manager (GTM) to install Google’s Universal Analytics tag on your website. Also in GTM, set up any other basic tags and triggers for page views and any meaningful interactions with elements on your website – whether it’s form submissions, phone calls or outbound link clicks – you will want to know what events are taking place on your site. Also through GTM, you should install any advertising pixels necessary for your marketing campaigns. If you’re advertising on Facebook or TikTok, these pixels are an important tool to build audiences to remarket to, and to track website conversions on the ad platforms so that their algorithms can improve ad delivery.
Link Google Products. You can link your Google Ads account within Google Analytics, where you will be able to see ad campaign insights within GA. And you should also link other Google products such as Google Search Console, and Google will import your Search Console data into GA.
Internal Search Queries. If your website has an internal search function, you will have to configure this in settings to record the searches people are conducting on your website. This will help you understand reasons people visit your website, and optimize content to migrate oft queried content from hard to find pages.
Block Bots & Spiders. By allowing GA to “block known bots and spiders,” you will be able to reduce unnecessary spam traffic to your website from being recorded in your reports.
The Extra Step
The steps I have outlined above are enough to set up analytics to the point where it is considered somewhat reliable, but there are many more steps that should be taken to get your data to the point where it is uniform, accurate and actionable.
There are many custom filters that we would implement for a client, but two important ones that should be included are:
- Force search terms to lowercase. This will reduce duplicates in your reports so that watches / Watches / WATCHES would all be listed as hits under watches, rather than three separate queries. The same principle applies to URIs.
- Exclude traffic from the office IP. This is a common one for larger companies with lots of employees working on the website at once, and allows for a clearer insight of how people use your site that aren’t employed by you.
If you run an ecommerce website, it’s important to set up Enhanced Ecommerce to track your sales. You can monitor the different channels that bring in revenue to your site, and determine their profitability and flag areas for improvement.
Do you know how much a lead is worth to your business? If you assign monetary value to your goals you will be able to determine the return on your marketing efforts much more effectively.
Set up a sales funnel that runs through how a user would purchase something on your site by entering the different URLs in this journey. For example /cart > /billing > /shipping > /payment. When you regularly monitor this funnel, you can see where in the process you’re losing users and adjust your funnel copy or UX to improve the success rate, or use the information as the basis for your remarketing campaigns, to pull unconverted users back to your site to convert.
The out-of-the-box set up for Channels reporting usually isn’t enough to measure all of your attribution channels, and often sources aren’t properly attributed to the correct corresponding channel. So take time to create Custom Channels that suit your needs and will measure your campaigns appropriately. If you use affiliates to build your sales, you can create a Custom Channel to monitor the quality of traffic your affiliates bring to your site, then when you address the sources of traffic, you can monitor their success and compare their value.
Audit your current set-up
If you have been running analytics for years but haven’t had it configured according to your needs – don’t despair, act now! You shouldn’t have any doubts about the accuracy of your data if you intend on using that data to inform business decisions.
Red flags for an improper analytics implementation include:
- Only one View
- A suspiciously high bounce rate (above 50%)
- A suspiciously low bounce rate
- High volume of traffic from a suspicious source or geographic location
- Personal Identifiable Information in your reports.
- Too many goals
- No goals
- No filters
It is important to regularly monitor your website traffic and clean up any issues of spam traffic. We had a U.S. based client receive high volume of traffic from the Middle East, hundreds of page views every day but with less than a second spent on each page and a bounce rate of 100%. When your data is clean, you get a clear picture of what is happening with your website.
Have an agency interpret your data
Data is only as good as your understanding of it. A good analytics agency will provide context, show you where your strengths are, point to areas that could be improved, and they will help you develop strategies on how to improve your website and marketing efforts. Whether it is monitoring which channels bring you the best traffic, showing you which advertising streams to invest in more, or explaining areas to further investigate.