10 ways to get killer insights from Google Analytics 2

Posted on May 16, 2016 by Rob Petersen


google analytics

Google Analytics is the most popular web analytics tool in the world.

Google Analytics has been installed on over 10,000,000 websites. It is used by 64% of the Top 500 US Retailers, 45% of Fortune 500 companies, and 55.9% of the top 1 million domains as identified by Alexa.

But what good is the data if you don’t know what to do with it.

Here are 10 ways to get killer insights from Google Analytics with video tutorials.

  • SET DATE RANGES LONG ENOUGH TO SHOW TRENDS: The date range selector is at the top right of every page. It shows the last 30 days by default. But 30-days often isn’t long enough to show trends. Establish a time frame long enough to allow you to tell a story. 90 days, year to date or the last year is a longer and often more effective date range for showing trends, seasonality and the impact of key events. Here is how to use the date range selector.

  • USE BOUNCE RATE EARLY AND RATE: Bounce Rate is the percent of visitors to a website who leave after viewing only one page – the lower the percent, the better the Bounce Rate. It is a key web metrics for website relevance because if your site is interesting to visitors, they’re likely to view more than one page. Google Analytics shows Bounce Rate for many measures. The more often you use Bounce Rate, the more insightful are your conclusions. Here’s how to know Bounce Rate for all your pages.

  • UNDERSTAND ACCESS FROM SMARTPHONES: According to SimilarWeb’s State of Mobile Web US 2015 report, roughly 56% of consumer traffic to the leading US websites is now from mobile devices. There are many sources that report traffic from mobile devices by industries like financial services, auto and retail. Knowing mobile traffic to your site is an important way to look at traffic. It’s likely to already be a large percentage and it’s definitely going to go up.

  • IDENTIFY KEY LOCATIONS AND GEOGRAPHY: Let’s say your company’s operations are organized around specific geographical sales regions: East, Central, and West. By default, Analytics only reports on default geographical regions. Unless, by using the geographical type in Data Import, you create a mapping between the specific regions you use for your business. You then see your data organized around these custom sales regions. In the US, the data is available by state, metro area and city. And the maps are very telling.

  • KNOW WHERE VISITORS COME FROM: In web analytics, traffic sources are different kinds of sources that send traffic to your web site. The metrics you find are: 1) Direct Traffic: All those people showing up to your website by typing in the URL of your Web site or from a bookmark, 2) Organic Search: Search engines – Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask and other, 3) Paid Search: Paid ads on search engines from services like Google Adwords and Bing Ads, 4) Referral: Other Web sites sending traffic to you. These could be as a result of your banner ads or campaigns or blogs or affiliates who link to you and 5) Other: These include campaigns you have run, e-mail and direct marketing.

  • LOOK FOR INNOVATIONS WITH SITE SEARCH: If you have a search engine on your website which visitors can use to search the site, you can measure the usage of this feature. The results you can find under the Site Search category in Google Analytics. In the overview, you see the percentage of visits with and without site search. Also some other metrics such as % search exits, % search refinements, time after search and search depth. But the real nuggets come for the words visitors use to search. For example, we work with a scissors company and the #1 word in Site Search is “left-handed.” Imagine that. A new product idea is handed to you through Site Search on Google Analytics.

  • FIND MOST VALUABLE PAGES IN SITE CONTENT: Site content reports consist of: 1) Pages, 2) Content Drill Down, 3) Landing Pages and 4) Exit Pages. Pages report displays the top pages on your website based on traffic, as well as each page’s page views, unique page views, average time on page, entrances, bounce rate, % exit and page value.  Content Drill Down is helpful for websites that have sub-folders such as and or something similar. The Landing Pages report lets you see the top pages where visitors enter. Exit Pages show the last pages people visit before exiting your website. These are the pages you want to look at to see what you can do to keep visitors on your website longer.

  • ANALYZE ACTIONS WITH EVENTS: Events are user interactions with content that can be tracked independently from a web page or a screen load. Downloads, mobile ad clicks, gadgets, Flash elements, AJAX embedded elements, and video plays are all examples of actions you might want to track as Events. Using Event Tracking to measure interaction and conversions on your website is really beneficial for getting a better understanding of how your users are engaging with the content and features of your website in a much more advanced way than the standard reports can manage.

  • MEASURE METRICS MOST IMPORTANT TO SUCCESS WITH GOALS: Google Analytics doesn’t tell you how your business is doing without some additional setup. You have to tell Google Analytics to keep track of what’s critical to your business – and you do this with goals. In Google Analytics, you have four ways to track goals: 1) URLs, 2) time, 3) pages/visit and 4) events. Here’s how to set up Goals.

  • “SHOW ME THE MONEY” WITH CONVERSIONS: Most of the time Conversion Rate is thought of in terms of e-commerce websites. But increasingly tools are making it ever more easy for you to track conversions of any kind. Form submissions (leads). Trial signups. Content consumption. Download Software. View support FAQ. And more. No matter what your website, you can start measuring “conversion rate”. It is the fastest way to the heart of why your website mostly exists.

Did this teach you how to use Google Analytics for killer insights? Are you ready to put analytics to work on your business?

5 reasons analytics is the most coveted marketing skill 0

Posted on March 22, 2014 by Rob Petersen



Iceberg for Analytics

  • 76% of companies believe analytics is a very important skill to have
  • Only 39% believe they have strong analytics talent
  • That’s a gap of 37%  among companies that value analytic skills but don’t have the talent in place (source: Online Marketing Institute)

Analytics is where more companies state they have the biggest talent gap according the OMI Study. The State of Digital Marketing. This is the issue on the surface. But is there a bigger problem that lies beneath?

Analytics is the study of past historical data to research trends and evaluate performance to gain knowledge and effect decisions. The result being to make improvements that create change.

Why do so many companies believe strong analytics solve a problem? Or is this the tip of the iceberg and another issue  lies below the surface?

Here are the 5 real reasons analytics is the most coveted marketing skill (with the facts that back them up).

MAKE BETTER DECISIONS: Analytics gets to better business decisions.

  • 91% of senior corporate marketers believe that successful brands use customer data to drive marketing decisions (source: Interactive Advertising Bureau/Columbia Business School)
  • 72% of executives believe management decision making is only moderately efficient (source: Economist Intelligence Unit)
  • 56% of executives are concerned about making poor choices because of bad data (EIU)
  • 55% of executive decisions are based on ad hoc consultation instead of corporate metrics (EIU)
  • 25% of executives believes management frequently, or always, gets its decisions wrong (EIU)
  • Less than 10% of of executives receive the information they need (EIU)

ACCOUNTABILITY: Analytics improve accountability

  •  70% of senior executives say they use “what if” scenarios at different budget levels to determine sales and profits  (source: Association of National Advertisers)
  • 39% of senior management views marketing as an expense (ANA)
  • 39% say they are satisfied with marketing’s impact on sales and brand equity (ANA)
  • 38% of senior executives agree marketing and finance share common metrics (ANA)
  • 34% of senior marketing execs say they were satisfied with their agency’s metrics (brand health, copy testing, reach, frequency) (ANA)
  • 20% of senior management feels confident in forecasts of how marketing activities will impact sales (ANA)
  • 19% say they were confident that if they had to cut marketing spend by 10%, they could use metrics and analysis to forecast the impact on sales (ANA)

KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (KPI’S): Analytics help identify the right key metrics to create an actionable scorecard that keeps strategy on track

  • 90% of CFO’s believe the KPI’s they use are reflective of reality but could be improved (source: Pricewaterhouse Coopers)
  • 33% of CFO’s deploy too many KPI’s (more than 20) to be useful
  • 33% don’t deploy enough (less than 5) to be useful (PWC)
  • 33% think their current set of KPI’s is adequate (PWC)
  • 20% plan to produce KPI’s more often (PWC)
  • Only 8% think the quality of their source data is excellent

RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI): Analytics determine how effectively the business and financials are being managed.

  • 87% agree capturing and sharing the right data is important to effectively measuring ROI in their own company (IAB/CBS)
  • 57% are not basing their marketing budgets on any ROI analysis (IAB/CBS)
  • 51% say that a lack of sharing customer data within their own organization is a barrier to effectively measuring their marketing ROI (IAB/CBS)
  • Only 43% of organizations are establishing their marketing budgets based on marketing ROI analysis (IAB/CBS)
  • 38% say they were extremely satisfied or very satisfied with their company’s ability to change established marketing strategies and budgets when ROI reports demonstrated they were not effective (ANA)
  • 37% of respondents did not include any mention of financial outcomes when asked to define what “marketing ROI” meant for their own organization (IAB/CBS)
  • Only 8% of companies can determine ROI for their social media spending (source: Econsultancy)

BIG DATA: Analytics gets us ready for Big Data.

  • 90% of the world’s total data has been created just within the past two years (source: IBM)
  • 75% of companies say they will increase investments in Big Data within the next year (source: Avanade)
  • 65% of companies deploy Big Data technology to boost the speed and quality of business decisions (source: CIO)
  • 59% of organizations lack the tools required to manage data from their IT systems (source: Saffron Technologies)
  • 34% of organizations say they have no formal strategy to deal with Big Data (source: Information Week)
  • 5% of companies believe Big Data will “fizzle out after the hype dies down” (source: CIO)
  • 30 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook each month (source: McKinsey)
  • 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytic skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts will be needed by 2018 to fill jobs in Big Data (McKinsey)

BarnRaisers helps companies use analytics to make improvements and create change.

Digital Analytics, Measurement and ROI are courses I teach in the Digital Marketing Mini-MBA program at Rutgers CMD. Class is in session the week of March 31st.  I also am a co-author of  Strategic Digital Marketing, the ultimate crash course in digital marketing, and wrote the chapter on Measurement and ROI.

Does your company need analytics help? Do these reasons explain to you why analytics is so important to so many companies?





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