SEO, CRO, UX & Strategy.

Don’t use Google Analytics like Mr. Bean! Part 1

Have you ever used something the wrong way for 12 years? I have. Let me tell you about it! I mean I did manage to get things to work, I managed to deliver as promised… but after internalizing the tips I am about to share with you, I felt a little like Mr. bean driving his car… I got the job done, but could of gotten so much more out of it! Let me save you a decade of experience by reading this post.

In this post, you will learn:

Mr. Bean driving his 977 British Leyland Mini 1000

Why is this worth reading?

I have dissected, updated, and improved my comprehension of Google Analytics as a business tool. Not an easy thing after working with google analytics since 2008.

I have taken Google Analytics courses here and there, so when I started the conversion rate optimization mini degree program at clx.com, having a very short attention span, I cringed at the 22 lessons on introduction to Google Analytics! “I have had over 10 years’ worth of GA experience!” I thought, but even though it has taken me over a week to get past a little more than half of it, to my surprise, it has not been boring at all, and it has really enhanced my comprehension of GA and its applications! This is the first list of the most important things I have learned about Google Analytics…

*By the way writing this is part of CXL.com´s online mini-degree on conversion rate optimization training process. I have learned new things and understood old mistakes in my own processes, sometimes laughing out loud at some of Mercer’s warnings, as I have made those mistakes and suffered the consequences. This is a truly valuable resource and Mercer makes it fun. Thank you for that Mercer and the CXL.com gang! 

What do we use Google analytics for?

Google Analytics is used to measure the impact of your UX in regard to your goals. 

Goals have to exist before even thinking about your website, app design, or goal-specific campaigns. When you dive into Google Analytics, your focus should be on trying to figure out how a particular strategy impacted the goals it was built for.

The objective when diving into Google Analytics is to create a truthful, clear, and easy to read the story, one that enables you to understand what is happening on your online property, how it’s happening, and in the process gain enough insights to improve results. 

¿What does Google Analytics do?

Google Analytics collects data, stores it, and presents it to you through standard and custom reports. Read it again… :). Then move on.

¿Where does G.A. fit in the measurement marketing ecosystem called Google Marketing Platform?

Google’s marketing platform is the last version of a group of SAAS that was originally created to monetize their biggest asset, their search user base. As Google grew, this evolved as well.

Currently, Google offers free business analytics solutions to optimize their advertising products and help online projects maximize their online investment returns. To do this they unified their previous product groups: DoubleClick advertiser products and the Google Analytics 360 Suite, under a single brand and software suite: Google Marketing Platform. This is an overview of what this new platform includes:

  • Display and Video 360: Lets marketers program their campaigns across video, tv, audio, and other channels all in one place. It’s a multichannel programmatic planning platform. 
  • Search Ads 360: This is a search ads marketing platform that helps advertisers effectively manage some of the largest search marketing campaigns across multiple search engines and media channels. 
  • Google Analytics 360 and basic google analytics Analytics: Captures, sores, and displays website user behaviors and related data.
  • Data Studio: Allows you to mix and display data from multiple sources in a beautiful and friendly way.
  • Optimize 360: Allows you to test A/B/n tools. 
  • Survey 360: Tool to gather key consumer insights and market research. 
  • Tag Manager 360: Makes the implementation of the above tools very easy and fast.

A great combination of free tools to start with are Google Analytics, Google Optimize, Google Tag Manager, and Google Data Studio, that offer free data and services for up to 10,000,000 page views per month, and work very well for MS&MBs.

How do we use Google Analytics reports?

Before you use reports, Make sure Tracking is set up correctly

As “Mercer” would say, we use Google Analytics Reports to “develop a truthful story” of what is happening on your website. My best recommendation is to familiarize yourself by creating the habit of nosing around G.A. every day. Mercer has a mantra: “Truth is in the trend, power is in the pattern“, like all wise quotes, this one will make more sense as you put in more “analysis” time while looking at reports. Here are some starting points on Google Usage:

  • Look at your reports every day and try to always create a story of what it is you are seeing, ask yourself if it makes sense.
  • Reports help us visualize the customer journey, allowing us to optimize systematically, testing specific changes in different sub-elements to make the system perform better.
  • Default reports help you focus on specific information, enabling you to find the answers to questions that you or your team might have to answer, in order to create a better “Story”.
  • Google Analytics coins the term “user” to a “cookie” or “tracking ID”, so, a real person might be reflected as multiple “users” (using different browsers, devices and/or deleting cache of a single browser), each “user” can have multiple sessions, and each session can have multiple page views.
  • When measuring time on site, do not take information from sessions that have only one page view, because one page, if not manually tweaked through Google Analytics’ events, will not activate the “end time stamp” that is needed to actually measure time on page.
  • Remember to filter out specific information, like your own company´s IP for specific views.

Types of Google Analytics Reports

Google Analytics offers reports that are great to start out with, as one would suppose, the standard reports have been set there because they carry the most widely used sets of information for you to get insights into your Web and/or App performance and optimization opportunities. As you advance, your own projects will demand more “custom” reports. There is also an amazing library of “custom” reports made and shared by truly gifted Google Analytics masters. (Ask me about these).

  • The home report is a good general overview, for quick general glances. It tells me how the week went, whether we beat yesterday’s traffic, sales, goals, and is great to pinpoint days and times where the traffic is at its highest.
  • Reports are usually presented in 4 different kinds of report visualizations.
    1. Table Reports: These are the most common and versatile, they allow you to tweak and temporarily shift data to filter and sort user segments, dates, filter specific data, and view specific data groupings by matching “secondary” dimensions to your initial dimensions. All in a very easy to see UI.
    2. Flow Reports: These are visualizations that let you see your user’s behavior from start to finish from right to left, great for understanding the customer journey (while on the website) from start to finish.
    3. Graphic Reports: These are quite specific, like the geographical reports where you see maps light up.
    4. Funnel Visualization Reports: provide a really easy to understand traditional funnel view from the top of the funnel down to final conversion ( bottom of the funnel). These are fairly rare, actually I only see one, but I´m guessing as time goes by, the model might be used for other scenarios, as its a great graphic to explain flow towards a goal.
  • Available Google Analytics Standard Reports
    •  Overview Reports: A little bit of everything. Like your website daily newspaper.
    • Real-Time Reports: Live metrics of what is happening on the site.
    • Audience Reports: Gives you demographic information about your users.
    • Acquisition Reports: Gives you information about the sources of your users.
    • Behavioral Reports: Provides information about what your users are doing on the website.
    • Goal Conversion Reports: Enable you to see how your website is doing in terms of its KPIs or general objectives of the website.
  • Custom Reports: The limit is your imagination man! We will look at this in later blog posts. …eventually. But feel free to ask me directly.

What are Dimensions and Metrics in google analytics?

  1. Dimensions describe your data. Examples of dimensions are Countries, Users, Bounces, or Pages, this is a list of 500 google analytics dimensions.
  2. Metrics give you amounts. They measure your dimensions, metrics are the numbers and units of measurement. This is a great source to really get your head around this.

An example: We would use the dimension “countries” to later select the “sessions” metric to find out what country (dimension) has the most sessions  (metric) in a given time range.

How are Google Analytic’s ADMIN settings organized and why?

To help you visualize and navigate a G.A. setup, it is important to understand Google Analytics setting’s structure: 1 Google account > 100 GA Accounts > 50 Properties > 20 Views >  25 Goals. 

From a project planning and evaluation perspective it’s important to work your way back from goals, so you can also appreciate GA as a goal measurement tool.

Anytime you want to see how good your goal performance is, you will be looking at a specific “view”. A view is the lowest part of a “monitoring” system, it holds specific goals, for a specific role to evaluate specific strategies within a large operation. 

  1. Accounts: The boss from a GA perspective, the top of the umbrella, an account will hold your different properties (web assets) and for every property, you will be able to have different views. I usually have 1 account per product for large projects or one single small business. 
  2. Property: (An account may have up to 50 properties). A new G.A. the account always starts with 1 default property. An example of property use can be:  blog.mywebsite.com and another property could be store.mywebsite.com. 
  3. Views: (A property may have up to 25 views). You can add users to manage your GA account at an administrative level, giving them the same administrative privileges you have for your account. But generally, you will manage user-level access at a view level, curating the data and feedback each added user gets, based on the role they play and the goals they are working towards. You would only add users at a property level, to delegate administrative power, and up to one more level to “account” only if you want to co-direct a monitoring operation or are handing it entirely to another person.
  4. Goals: ( A view may monitor over 20 goals). Each view may have up to 20 goals, goals are conversions. They are set parameters in GA that count the number of desired actions your user does when in your UX.

There is a lot more to cover, but this is the first of many blog posts destined to Google Analytics. Thank you for your time and attention! Feel free to comment below or reach out through our social platforms.

Or move on to Part 2 of “Don´t use Google Analytics like Mr. Bean” where you will read more on how to manage users, accounts, properties and views.

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