Google Analytics is one of the tools of choice when it comes to web and app analytics. Its aim is to provide insights from tracking visitors so that you can better your marketing efforts and make business decisions based on actual data. At the end of the day, you need to understand what happens on your page or app and where users are acquired from to enhance what works or change what performs less.
Google Analytics 4, the newest version of Google Analytics, was just released at the time of writing and promises to deliver even more features than its previous version. Moreover, Google has enabled integrations between Google Analytics and many of its products, including Google Search, the most used search engine in the world.
With so many features available to accurately track and analyze your web and app data, it is easy to miss some of them. In this article we will present you with 7 tips and tricks every marketer should know.
1. Measure against goals and conversions
One of the most important features of Google Analytics is the ability to measure your marketing efforts against goals (Universal Analytics) or conversions (GA4). These goals or conversions should be aligned with your business objectives and will confirm that you are on track with your marketing efforts.
The conversion rate is one of the most important metrics to keep an eye on when looking at your data, regardless of the type of objective or purpose of your web application. If you have multiple goals and even if they don’t involve a transaction, you should assign them an arbitrary monetary value. This will allow you to measure the overall performance of a channel or campaign against your business objectives.
2. Leverage segments
With segments, you can dig deeper in your collected data. It allows you to create subsets of users, who meet your own pre-defined criteria. For example, a segment could be set for users coming from a specific city, or one could be set for iOS users. You could also need a segment for users coming from a specific campaign, or a segment for returning users who did not convert yet.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to setting up your segments in Google Analytics. These will help you understand your audience, identify common traits and are also very useful to you to create custom audiences later down the line.
3. Analyze individual user behavior
Google Analytics provides you tools to understand both aggregate user behavior (when you are doing large scale marketing efforts) and individual user behavior. Analyzing individual user behavior is very useful when you want to improve usability, understand user journeys, or gain insights from your customers behavior on your website or app.
For example, if a user is having trouble placing an order, you could go through his journey across the site and identify potential issues. You can do this easily with Google Analytics by using the User Explorer report (under Audiences for Universal Analytics), which is based on either Client-ID or User-ID. If you are using GA4, you can find the User Explorer report too in the Exploration reports.
4. Analytics Intelligence
Analytics Intelligence is a set of features offered by Google Analytics that uses machine learning to better understand and act on your data. It is available anywhere in your Google Analytics interface with a click of a button, called Insights.
It will assist you in identifying issues or opportunities you might have missed. On top of providing you auto-generated insights (these are usually based on anomalies in the data such as increase or decrease of a particular metric), you can also ask questions about your data!
You can either select predefined questions in the Insights tab or type them directly in the search bar. The idea behind this is to query your data in simple everyday language questions, Insights will then answer with a quick overview of a report with a link to a full one. You can also set up Intelligence default/custom alerts to let you know about any significant changes in your data.
5. Compare past performance
Google Analytics can also be used to compare historical trends. This is one of the best ways to identify whether a particular campaign brought traffic to your site or whether your site is seeing natural traffic growth.
For example, if you have an average number of users over a given period but then observe a spike in traffic after running a specific campaign, it is safe to assume that the campaign largely had to do with that increase.
This way you can prove that campaigns are working (or not). To do your comparison, you can go to the acquisition reports and use the compare feature when choosing your date range. You can compare directly with the preceding period you selected or else the same period of last year.
A year-over-year comparison will help you see how traffic compares between the two, a quarter-over-quarter comparison will help you stay on top of your goals by tracking progress quarterly and a month-over-month will help in addressing issues that come up weekly or monthly.
6. Primary and secondary dimensions in standard reports
In most reports, you can change the primary dimension of the report. Let’s say you are looking at the Top events report (Behavior) in Universal Analytics. The primary dimension displayed by default will be the Event Category. However, most GA users forget that you can switch the primary dimension displayed. In this case and with this specific report, GA will offer you to change the primary dimension to Event Action or Event Label.This enables you to look at your report from a different perspective.
Moreover, some reports will also let you add a secondary dimension, allowing you to further drill down your data to get more detailed information and cross-reference it with different data points. A good example of the usefulness of secondary dimensions: when looking at your Channels report under Acquisition, the default channel grouping will be the primary dimension displayed (direct, referral, paid search etc..). However, this doesn’t tell you the actual source of traffic at first glance. By simply adding the Source secondary dimension in your report, you will now see the breakdown of sources per default channel grouping side to side, making your report even more precise and meaningful.
Keep in mind that you can save your customized report configuration and access it at any
time afterwards, and that Google Analytics also gives you the ability to share your reports
with other users.
7. Create custom dashboards and reports
Google Analytics gives you the ability to create custom dashboards and reports so that you can access your most important data with one click without having to configure it every time. Ideally, you should spend time creating a dashboard that focuses on the KPIs that are the most relevant to your business objectives. The default Google Analytics dashboard provides you with some useful information but is not necessarily a fit for every business.
Google provides you with a Solutions Gallery with custom dashboard and custom report templates, which you can easily import. Some of these templates were created by other users, and you can either find one that fits your business model or else use them as a base to create your own version of it.
You can go even further and unlock more power from your data by using Google Data Studio. Thanks to its integration with Google Analytics, you can easily import your data sources and create interactive reports. Google Data Studio also provides you with custom dashboard templates which you can use if you need some inspiration.