If you are responsible for a website or app as part of an online business, or really in any capacity, chances are you want to track how your website or app is performing. Are you hitting sales goals? Are people interacting with your site as you planned and expected? How are they traveling through your site? Are they even getting to checkout, or reaching the pages that really matter? Where are your users, what browsers and devices are they using, how did they arrive at your website? The questions could really be endless but getting the answers can be quite simple.
Google Analytics is a great way to track metrics and analyze them over time, deriving insights to inform your product and content decisions, improving the online experience for your users and turbo charging the performance of your website. While Google Analytics has a lot of built-in help and directions to get your site connected, we’ve put together some tips that will help you set goals and track them more in depth.
Setting up an end goal is simple, but did you know you can set up all of the steps the user would take before that final click of a button?
Under the Goals section in your Admin setting, each goal breaks down into three steps:
For the first two steps, Google Analytics (GA) makes things easy for you and provides you with different templates based on the type of goal: Revenue, Acquisition, Inquiry, or Engagement. Step three is where the magic happens. While GA requires that you input a destination (the end of the URL where your users are supposed to be ending up), it also gives you an option to set up a Funnel.
By turning this on, you can now input all of the steps a user would take to get to that final destination URL. So, for example, if you were setting up a goal where the user is reaching a URL ending in /checkout/thank_you (resulting in more cash money for my business!) You could then connect all of the steps the user would take to get to that purchase confirmation page.
Each step need two types of information to create the funnel. First you’ll need to provide a name for the page and then the URL ending for that page. So take the following image for example:
It’s important that you input only the last backslash and the word or letters that follow it or GA won’t properly recognize the page.
Once that’s set up, you can see a funnel visualization by going to Conversions > Goals > Funnel Visualizations within your dashboard panel. There you can see a vertical graph showing the number of users that leave the funnel, and where exactly they’re dropping off.
While you can find other sites that offer this for various price points, Google offers their very own free service via a Chrome extension. Simply install from the Chrome Web Store, link up to your GA account, and you’re good to go.
Once you’re on your site and have the plugin activated, you can see a glimpse of some relevant GA values. The real hero of this extension are the tooltips that show click-interactions throughout your site.
You can see what content is drawing the most user-interactions and scope out underperformers.
Annotating your reports is a great way to add some context to user behavior and traffic. They can be added right from within your admin settings, under the Personal Tools & Assets section.
Or, if you’re within an individual graph, you can click the annotations toggle link and add from there.
To explain jumps and drop-offs in traffic or conversions, you can include notes and specific dates as to holiday events, feature launches, campaign runs, or when edits to your site were made. If you’re working and building your site iteratively it can be nice to have a timeline built right into your analytics graphs.
Dimensions are another great way to add context to your analytics. Within any report, right above the data table, there will be a dropdown for a secondary dimension.
From there you’ll see a drop with a variety of sections.
Once you select an item, a new column gets added to your data table. For example, rather than simply viewing all pageviews for your site, you can view data as to what site referred users, what their screen resolution is, how many sessions they had prior to transactions, among many other variables.
One last hidden gem in GA is the ability to track what percentage of your users are on desktop, tablet, or mobile. Within the Reports sidebar, you can find this information inside the Audience menu under the Mobile > Overview dropdown.
Here you can see the total number of users on each device as well as things like their bounce rates and total revenue per device type. Knowing this can be incredibly helpful with dividing up your design and development resources. If you know that the bulk of your users are on desktop, but only a very tiny percentage are on tablet, you can work harder on optimizing desktop instead of shifting more resources into a version of your site that only 5% of your traffic will ever see.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool that has super insightful data, giving you x-ray vision into how your website or app is performing. With the tips we’ve outlined here, you can put your reports and traffic in context, helping you take your website to the next level.