But, as tools get more powerful, they usually get harder to use. Britefire CEO, Godfrey Parkin highlights the fundamentals to help you get set up right and exploit your data.
1. Create a raw profile for Google
Analytics, and some profiles you can play with.
A raw profile is one that has not yet been messed around with – a clean account name with no filters or modified pre-sets or custom stuff associated with it. Keep this profile pristine, and create other profiles that you can configure. Once you have associated filters with a GA profile, it is very hard to undo the customisation, so your raw profile is a great fall-back.
2. Exclude your own visits from your visitor data
You, your colleagues and your developers spend a lot of time on your site, and your visits simply muddy the data and make it easy to misinterpret. You can make your computer invisible to Google
Analytics in three ways:
a) Use GA’s Opt-Out browser plug-in (tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout
). This is the fastest and simplest way to go, but it is not fool-proof. You have to install it on all the browsers you may use, and keep it updated if you upgrade your browser.
b). Modify your computer’s ‘hosts file’ so your computer blocks GA’s tracking script. This is easier than it sounds. If you are using Windows, your hosts file is here C:\Windows\System32\drivers\ . If you are on Apple’s OS, your hosts file is in /private/ . Open the hosts file, and then add the following lines right at the end of the code:
This will not affect anything in your computer, but simply prevents GA’s tracking from adding your visits to the site’s data pool.
c). Set up a filter in GA that will block any traffic from your IP number. This will work only if you have a fixed IP address, which is the case for most businesses. In GA, just click the admin button then pick Filters, Add New Filter. Give the filter a name (e.g. ‘Office’), select Predefined Filter, Exclude traffic from the IP addresses that are equal to, and insert your computer’s IP number. Don’t know your IP? Just go to www.whatismyip.com
. Warning: once you associate a filter with your account profile, you cannot undo it.
3. Exploit the new Social Reports
If you’re tired of having to answer the social media ROI question by deflecting to qualitative measures of success, you can now use GA’s social reports to measure actual outcomes. What is more, these reports help you find out where you should be focussing your social efforts.
a) The Overview report: This tells you where you are getting conversions on your website. If you have set up GA goals, you can quantify these conversions in money terms. To truly optimise your site, you should look not just at final conversions, but at all the stepping stones within your conversion path (e.g. on your landing page your goal is to get visitors to click to the next page in the conversion process). To define each goal you need a business objective, a visitor action, and a way to measure if that action took place. The report will tell you how many conversions were Assisted Social Conversions (visitor from a social source left without converting, but came back later and converted), and Last Interaction Conversions (visitor came to the site from a social source and converted). The report helps you understand how effective your social presence is at actually getting people to want to buy, as opposed to simply making them curious.
b) The Conversions report: This segments your social campaigns by tool (e.g. Facebook
) and connects them to the specific goals you have for visitors to your website. If you want to know whether Facebook
is delivering the most conversions, this report will do it for you. If you have attached monetary values to your conversions, the report answers your ROI questions, broken down by social network.
c) The Social Sources report: This report shows you the social networks that visitors are using to find and engage with content on your site, and tells you which traffic sources give the best engagement. If you are running a hotel, wouldn’t it be useful to know that people who come to your weddings page from Twitter
spend less than a minute in that section, while those coming from Pinterest
spent 12 minutes? What impact might this insight have on your social strategy, your information architecture, or other aspects of your digital marketing? You could dig deeper and check out what the report’s Activities Stream tells you about who is actually starting social conversations about your brand, what is being said and how that word of mouth ‘ripples’ out to others. Simply select a post to dig into, then select View Ripple to see how the comment was spread. You can even engage directly with those who are talking – GA has effectively become an interface with social media.
4. Monitor the behaviour of different visitor segments
Why look at all your visitors as if they are the same? People who come to your site after clicking an ad behave differently than those who come from a Facebook
page, or from having searched for your brand. GA lets you create different sets of rules and different groups for your site traffic, and lets you run reports on each segment. Learning how these different sets of visitors behave helps you optimise your information architecture and site structure.
To set up a segment, click Advanced Segments then ‘+New Custom Segment’. This pulls up a panel in which you can define segments. There are many different types of segments you can create. For example, you could include keyword ‘Britefire’ so that all the data you see relates only to visitors to your site who got there from a search term that contained the word Britefire.
5. Set up multi-channel funnels
The Multi-Channel Funnels tab now shows you how different traffic sources interact to produce conversions. For example, you can set up a multi-channel funnels report to show the combined effect of AdWords and social media. This may show no relationship, or it may show that a lot of your conversions started as AdWords clickers who then liked your Facebook
Page and subsequently purchased. Conversion paths are rarely simple. Viewing multiple channel interactions helps you understand some of the long and winding paths that your visitors are taking.
6. Set up GA alerts for critical changes
Most people don’t check their analytics every minute of every day. But you may want to know right away if anything critical happens, such as if your conversion rate doubles. GA lets you create alerts to notify you by email.
To set up an alert, click on the Admin tab then the Assets tab and select Custom Alerts. Create a new alert and give it a name (e.g. Increased Conversion), then apply it to any GA profiles you think are relevant. Then set up the Alert Conditions (e.g. This Applies To: All Traffic; Alert Me When: Conversion; Condition: % increases by more than; Value: 100%; Compared to: same day in the previous week).
The analytics tools is available to you for free and helps you to fine-tune your website and your digital strategy, save you a lot of time – and let you grab potential business that otherwise would have just passed you by. Getting comfortable with analytics is not hard. It all comes down to knowing what your commercial goals are, and defining how you want to measure success. After that, you simply need to know what tools can help you, and learn how to use them.