Four steps to help you get real value out of Google Analytics

Are you new to Google Analytics?

It is a mammoth system. There is a huge amount of data and it is presented in quite a complex way.

You can easily to spend hours clicking round looking for information that will provide some insight into how to improve the results from your online business. But whilst you might end up with some interesting facts about visitor numbers, you may well find yourself none the wiser about how to improve your website’s performance.

So where to start?

A structured approach can literally pay dividends; here are four steps to help you get real value out of Google Analytics:

1. Ask yourself: what am I trying to achieve?

Forget about the data for a minute and focus on your business. What are you trying to do? What goals do you want to achieve, or problems need to be addressed?

You need to be very specific. For example your objective might be to generate more sales. But before you can use Google Analytics to help, you need to break this down into the components or goals that are likely to lead to more sales.

For example you might decide the best way to generate more sales is to:

• Increase the number of visitors to the website.
• Increase the proportion of visitors who buy something when they come to the website.
• Get more value from your advertising budget.
• Encourage more visitors to sign up to your newsletter.
• Target the geographic markets where there is most scope for growth.

2. Prioritse: don’t try and do everything at once.

Once you have identified your goals, keep things manageable and choose the one or two most important to focus on. This makes success much more likely. It will also be easier to link cause with effect as you pursue different activities to achieve your goal.

3. Identify the information and reports that give you insight into the areas you have identified.

The information you need might be in the standard reports or, more likely, a custom report will be more useful.

It might be that not all the data you need is collected. There are plenty of ways of capturing additional data with Google Analytics.

For example you can link your Google Analytics account to your AdWords or AdSense accounts. You can get much more information on how your website is showing up in searches by integrating your Google Webmaster tools accounts. You can use link tagging to track the success of links you place in online adverts or promotional emails. Online stores can capture extremely useful information by configuring Google e-commerce. Creating goals makes it easy to keep track of all sorts of visitor activity, and if goals do not capture what you want then the chances are event tagging will. And, on top of all this, it is even possible to integrate data from external systems.

4. Take Action

Once you understand what you want to achieve and have the data and reports in place to measure it. It is then time to make those changes to your website or launch that marketing campaign.

Immediate Results

The beauty of Google Analytics is that information is collected fast, some of it instantly. If your changes worked maybe you can make further improvements, if not, at least you will know very quickly, and you can put things back as they were or try something else.

Google Analytics is jam-packed with information that harnessed properly can help your website and business thrive. But to be of value, the only way to start is by answering that one simple question:

What am I trying to achieve?