The Google Analytics platform is a powerful, free tool that gives marketers and business owners insight into the activity on their website. If you are new to Analytics, you can easily browse through the default reports to clue you into how users are behaving on your site, and how they got there. However, there are many more complexities you will discover as you become more advanced.
There are multiple tools within analytics that allow you to take a deeper dive into your data, which can seem intimidating when learning the platform. In reality, there are going to be a handful of ways to access the same information — you can pick your preferred method as you become more comfortable in the platform.
Below, I’ll review some ways you can make use of various features within Google Analytics in order to get a closer look at the information you find most important for your marketing campaigns. Hopefully these tips make things easier to navigate your data and go beyond the standard, out-of-the-box reports that Google Analytics provides.
If you have regular stats you look at every day/week/month, and there are several groups of reports you’d like to see in one place, then you need to get into dashboards.
I typically have three dashboards that I use for conversions, content performance, and overall activity. I have the same custom template that I use across multiple accounts and tweak as necessary; however, you can build your own or browse a gallery of dashboards that have already been created and shared by those in the Google Analytics community. You can find these in the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery.
Perhaps you want to focus only on social media or organic traffic — you can create dashboards that evaluate where these users are landing, where they are leaving, how long they are on the site, how often they convert, etc.
You can find Dashboards in the top left corner of the site under “Customization.”
Once you click the “create” button, you’ll have the option to create your own, or import from the Gallery.
If you opt to create your own, you have the choice to include standard or real-time data, then select the format and the metrics/dimensions of what you want to display. The filter option allows you to exclude anything you don’t want to show in the dashboard.
Google Analytics has plenty of readily-available, useful reports that you can access using the navigation. Whether you are evaluating source/medium, device types, or a breakdown of the most popular pages on the site — Google has pre-set metrics it includes with each of these reports. However, there may be times when you may want to see different stats then what is given to you by default. While you can modify how that information is presented to you, say by changing from a table to a chart, you may want that informative table format with completely different metrics. Or perhaps with particular metrics omitted. That’s when you can create a custom report to show exactly what you need.
I often create custom reports when there are specific stats that I need to check on a regular basis. In these cases, I don’t necessarily need an entire dashboard because I may be checking on a specific page, or just need the single set of stats for whatever I am monitoring. Also, custom reports let you add more metrics than what is available through Dashboard’s widgets.
To create a custom report, you again go to the top left-hand corner of the screen and it is right below Dashboards. Once there, you again have the option to create your own custom report, or import from the Gallery.
If you opt to create your own custom report, you can drill down to exactly what it is you want to see, and you can create multiple subsets of related data using the tab feature.
This one is pretty basic, but not one to be overlooked by those still learning the Google Analytics platform. There’s always another layer that can/should be added to whatever you are evaluating — from the pages on your site, to the conversions. Of course, you’ll want to know where the traffic is coming from, so Source/Medium can tell you a great deal, particularly as it comes to your own marketing ROI. The hour when a lead comes in can also be important, whether you are syncing up your inbox of leads to your analytics data, or you are trying to find trends in conversion activity.
If you’re not adding secondary dimensions while viewing default reports in Google Analytics, this is your first step to becoming a more advanced user.
Perhaps you’re only interested in one type of user when evaluating traffic. For instance, you are looking for users only on mobile devices. Or only organic users. Or users coming in from a specific UTM parameter. Or a particular geography. And maybe you want to use two secondary dimensions when you’re looking through various reports, but you can only add one secondary dimension in standard reports. One option is to create a custom report; however, there’s another way — with segments.
By default, Google will show you All Users. However, at the top of the page, you can add multiple segments to compare different types of traffic, or you can limit the data to a specific group.
There will already be many options available to you, but you also have the option to create custom segments as well.
You again have the option to click on that “+New Segment” button to create your own, or import from the gallery. A custom segment will allow you to filter using a variety of parameters, or you can define your own using “Conditions.”
After selecting the segment you have created/imported, you can continue throughout the platform knowing the data being presented is only from the specific subset.
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