Google Analytics Best Practices for Effective Web Tracking

By Frank HealyNovember 16, 2015

As a digital marketer, you probably already know the importance of measuring and understanding the performance of your online media. Tracking plays an important role in the success of your programs and can provide a significant amount of insight into what is working well and what could be improved.

Google Analytics is one of the most prevalent and powerful tools for streamlining data and measuring your overall digital performance. With access to Google Analytics, you can see a variety of interactions and behaviors, such as the number of people interacting with your site, or the sources driving the most traffic. These metrics let you optimize content to improve the user experience.

When tracking features are configured correctly, Google Analytics can help inform and improve your online marketing strategies, targeting and site performance. Organizations often struggle, however, when it comes to determining the right metrics for tracking and analyzing the effectiveness of their company’s web presence.

There are three key features for efficient web tracking performance in Google Analytics including Goals, AdWords, and Views. Depending on your marketing initiatives and goals, the actionable data and reporting provided from these three areas can considerably increase traffic and improve conversion rates.

Here is a basic review of each feature, along with guidance on how you can utilize the tools to help pinpoint which metrics offer the most valuable insights for your programs.

1. Goals
Creating goals in Google Analytics can help track success events important to your company and your marketing initiatives including leads, trial signups, new accounts, newsletter/blog subscriptions and downloads. This is one of the most important features, as it collects and tracks the data related to a user converting on the website.

There are several different types of goals to consider including a destination goal, which lets you know when a visitor arrives on a specific page, such as a confirmation page. By setting this up, you can measure ROI by viewing which traffic sources send the most converting users to your website. Features such as sales funnels can also be set up so you can see where leads are joining or dropping out of the conversion process.

To set this feature up in Google Analytics, navigate to the admin menu and select the option to set up goals. From here, you can select goals that will allow you to measure page views, visitors and overall traffic and behaviors that will help you track the effectiveness of your content and marketing programs.

2. AdWords
One of the most important metrics to pay attention to in digital marketing is Return On Ad Spend, or ROAS. Understanding how to use Google Analytics to measure your advertising campaign success will let you maximize the value of your advertising efforts.

Google AdWords is a platform that helps you profile and target customers by determining the type of keywords the user may be searching for and capturing inquiry interest at the moment they are looking for your product or service. Your AdWords account can be synced to Google Analytics for additional insight into the user acquisition and behavioral flow on your site. This is hugely important for tracking and measuring, as Google Analytics can help guide optimizations and strategies that will drive the desired user behaviors, or conversions, on your site.

3. Views
Google Analytics offers four reporting views including unfiltered, master, testing, and sandbox. The views provide helpful options for dividing copious amounts of data into individual segments. One of the most important uses for this feature is to better understand where visitors are coming from (e.g., email campaigns, remarketing campaigns, social media, etc.) to develop strategies that attract, retain, and convert visitors.

For a closer look at all the raw data in Google Analytics, use the unfiltered view. Master view filters out extra data, testing view populates only the IP addresses of the people testing the site, and sandbox lets users implement changes and preview them before applying them to master view.

With reporting views, it’s best to experiment with filtering and different views to get an idea of what data is useful to your company and in what way. A word of caution: try to only change views or filters one variable at a time to best determine which settings are most effective for understanding the data.

Google Analytics is a powerful tool with many different capabilities and Google offers a wide variety of ongoing trainings and resources to help marketing professionals navigate the different features.

Check out google.com/analytics for free guides and tips, and information about Analytics Academy or the AdWords certification.

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