Numbers and I have a love hate relationship.  I’d say I’m more of a words person than a numbers person.   I’ll never forget, one of my first bosses in the biz told me at the ripe age of 18 that I need to be more analytical.  I’ve taken that advice to heart and have pushed myself to make myself more comfortable using data to tell a “story” and create strategies around it.

So, when I was tasked by a client and now dear friend several years ago to set up Google Analytics Goals for one of our clients, I had a slight panic attack.  Google Analytics to me at the time was a giant overwhelming beast.  I had no idea how to navigate this landscape, let alone set up goals or tell a story with the information that was in front of me.  If you’re like me, staring at your Google Analytics dashboard and aren’t sure exactly what to do with it, here are some of the things I’ve learned over the last few years that hopefully take Google Analytics from a frenemy to one of the best tools you have in your toolbox as a marketer.

Get in the Tool and Explore!

Familiarize yourself with the dashboards, date ranges and different information that is at your fingertips.  I made it a point to spend at least an hour a day, sometimes more, when I was first learning Google Analytics. And, sometimes when I get a specific project, I may spend days at a time in the tool.  Don’t worry, if you’re given “Read Only” access you can’t break anything!

Get Educated

There’s a ton of information online about using this tool.  At first, I’d look for information for a specific topic and just learn by doing.  However, if you’re looking for a more streamlined approach, check out the Google Analytics Academy at https://analytics.google.com/analytics/academy/ . The online classes are free, you can take them at your own pace and get certified!

Use UTM Codes

A what code?  A UTM code is a piece of code that you can use with your different advertising mediums to understand the effect they have on website traffic, conversions, etc.  Check out the UTM code builder here: https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/

Set Up Goals

Goals give you the ability to track specific actions or conversions on your website.  By using UTM codes, you can also see specifically how each advertising medium you are using affects each goal.  Read more here about Goals:  https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1012040?hl=en

Not All Bounce is Created Equal

Bounce rate is when someone comes to your site and only visits one page. Overall bounce rate on your website should be in the 50% range, depending on your industry it may be higher or lower.  Different channels will produce different bounce rates.  Generally mediums like display and video will generate 70-80% bounce.  Pay Per Click bounce rates are much lower in the 40-50% range.   And, if you have a high mobile ad mix this could skew your bounce rates as much as 12% higher.  Also, if you are directing people to the exact contact they need on your site from an ad, this can skew bounce higher too as they are getting the information they need without having to look around on your site to get it.

Understand Attribution

This has been a hot topic in the industry for years, as marketers have all too often given credit to “last touch attribution” or to the medium that produced the conversion.  In the digital world this means that Pay Per Click for years has gotten all the glory as it’s generally the last touch someone makes prior to conversion.  However, there’s considerable value that needs to be assigned to display and video for stimulating search and assisting with conversions.  Think about your own behavior; do you see an ad for the first time and convert on the spot?  My behavior is to see a display or video ad, do research on that company, read reviews and look at their competition, then click on an SEM later and go to the website and fill out a form.  Previously with Google Analytics we would only be able to see last touch attribution giving SEM the credit for the conversion.  But, now we can see how the display or video ad (or any other medium for that matter) assist with conversions.  Read more here on channel attribution:  https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1191204?hl=en