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Google Analytics: How to Get Started


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Understanding Google Analytics as an Effective Measurement Tool …

Understanding Google Analytics as an Effective Measurement Tool

Are you measuring your marketing? Do you have Google Analytics set up on your website but don't know how to interpret the data? In this session we will go walk through the ways Google Analytics can be leveraged to measure your online and offline marketing efforts. Get more out of your marketing and attend this session.

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  • Google Analytics: Understanding Google Analytics as an Effective Measurement Tool.Presented by Kevin Mullett (@kmullett)from Cirrus ABS in partnership with Element Three on August 11th 2010. Indianapolis, Indiana Contact: or
  • Objectives for today's Indianapolis Google Analytics seminar. How do I efficiently get reports for myself and others?Turn opinion into data. Find what’s working and what’s not. How to improve your site for conversion.
  • Analytics // facing the reality of analytics: Google Analytics is a very powerful tool, capable of so much more than we will have a chance to talk about today. We track 100’s of websites, work with 100’s of clients and I will be real honest, I don’t feel like we have scratched the surface of what Google Analytics can do. The big question is what can it do for you? The simplistic answer is give direction on matters of marketing effectiveness.This seminar, unlike most of my others, isn’t broken down into clearly defined actions. Instead it will be filled with many step by step examples along with some explanations on how to interpret the resulting data. This is designed to get you thinking critically about the uses and possibilities of Google Analytics. What we have time to cover today is a mere drop in the bucket to be sure. Of course some of you will be more familiar than others. I will do my best to keep you awake and free of a glazed over look.
  • Analytics // hippo hunting: I want to empower you with high value examples that will allow you to become your companies expedition lead. You will be empowered with powerful data capable of bringing down the largest hippos and experts when opinion starts to creep in to a conversation.By the way, the thought of this scares the… well it scares hippos and experts.*hippo = highest paid persons opinion
  • Analytics // why analytics matter: I mentioned we can turn opinion into data, well what are we doing with that data? We are measuring our marketing, promotion, and advertising effectiveness, both online and offline. We will stop allocating marketing budget to those areas that don’t provide ROI. Is that social media campaign bearing fruit? And we will know where visitors really come from so we can put more money into those programs. Are you being found for the right keywords? Does the email campaign generate traffic back to the sign up form and do they fill it out?
  • Analytics // why analytics matter: What keywords are bringing visitors to the site, what pages are valuable to visitors, is it time to freshen up your copy, are people following your calls to action, are there problem pages, who is your audience, how many people come to the site and take no further action, and much more.
  • Analytics // the different choices: There is no shortage of analytics packages on the market. To understand why we are focused on Google Analytics today we need to understand the different types of analytic solutions.Server level statistics actually run on the computer that is serving your website pages to the world. This means that the hosting company chooses which one they will use. Price is normally a factor.Content Management Systems, like the Cirrus ABS eBusiness suite, often build in their own analytics.Then there are all the third party services which can included normal analytics, hit counters, multiple service aggregators, and Niche’ measurement services. Generally speaking, these all require some type of code to be put on your site so their remote servers can measure the various metrics as they happen. Google Analytics works this way.
  • Analytics // so why Google Analytics?: Cirrus ABS didn’t immediately jump on the Google Analytics beta band wagon. Instead we watched what was going on, installed it on some personal sites, and evaluated what they were doing. It became apparent pretty quickly that the new Urchin solution, with the financial backing of Google was going somewhere fast. I would be lying if I didn’t admit to selfish reasoning as well. We needed a way to more effectively present measurable results to clients. We wanted a way to highlight how our methodology for building websites was actually tangibly better when compared to competitors. I know that sounds like a line, but consider this, people were still spending tens of thousands on Yellow Page ads with no measurable return. Agencies were still building flashy sites with no conversion plans or capabilities, and almost nothing was being said of search engine optimization. Google Analytics provided us a free, easy to deploy and use tool.
  • Analytics // but the numbers don’t match: A frequently asked question is why Google Analytics, the hosting providers server analytics package, and the old Cirrus ABS CMS built in analytics numbers don’t match up. The answer is actually more simple then you might have guessed. Each software developer decides what metrics should be included and the criteria that make them up. Total page hits isn’t the same as visitations. Unique user sessions per day as recorded by the Cirrus ABS CMS isn’t the same as absolute unique visitors in Google Analytics. A session timeout that was coded to be 20 minutes or based on a cookie expiration by Cirrus ABS was independently set to 30 minutes by the Google Analytics developers. A news item view count shown by our analytics will be represented as a pageview by Google Analytics.The important thing we will discuss today is how to look for clues in the numbers for what is working and what is not. We are looking for cause and effect.
  • Analytics // customizing your dashboard: Let’s start with something simple. The Google Analytics dashboard is most useful when it presents the information you actually need and can act on. And if you are anything like me, sometimes you forgot exactly how you found that nugget of information that was helpful. Let’s take a moment to customize your dashboard to make it easy.Browse to the report you want to appear on the dashboard. Select the “Add to Dashboard” button, then select the “view dashboard” link. Now just repeat for other reports you would like to add to the dashboard.
  • Analytics // reports to share or to keep: Exporting one time reports is really quite simple. Navigate to the report you want to create, for example: “content” > “top content”. Then we select the “Export” drop down tab. Now we select the appropriate format we want to save it in. That could be PDF (vector output for quality visual reference, ease of sharing), XML (extensible markup language), CSV (comma separated value, Excel), TSV (tabbed separated value, Excel). And finally we need to save the report which will is just like saving other things from the web. It may be different per browser.
  • Analytics // scheduled attention: What if we want reports to show up on a regular basis? Let’s create an automated report. First navigate to the report you want to create as we did in our previous example. We will use “content”, “top content” again. Now click the “email” button and then select the “schedule” tab. Now we can input emails we want to send the report to, for example a supervisors, board members, the owner, or you could just check “send to me”. We continue by filling in the remaining fields then select the desired format. Now we choose the frequency of the report by selecting daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Optionally we can request a “date comparison” be included. This would allow you to always include the previous month for example. And finally we click “schedule” to save this scheduled report. If you have already created a scheduled report you can simply use “Add to Existing” to add another report.
  • Analytics // doomed to repeat the past?: One of the most common things people do in Google Analytics is check activity based on dates. Let’s do that, but why not also compare it to the past while we are at it. First we select the dates we want to review. Now let’s check the “compare to past option” and select a previous month. It may even be the same month from a previous year. That is if Google Analytics has been installed on your site that long. After clicking apply we are presented with a graph of the two months. We can hover over the dots to see more specific information. If you have made annotations we can see those as well. What are we looking at or for? We want to investigate these spikes and lulls. Why was there a spike? Was there an announcement? Did we kick off a marketing campaign? We are looking for cause and effect, because if it worked we should look into doing it again.We could have alternately used the “timeline” feature, rather than the “calendar”, to select or modify the range. Of course we can also turn off the “compare to past” feature if we want to concentrate on a given date range.
  • Analytics // annotating key events: Annotation is one of my favorite additions to Google Analytics. If you really want to get serious about understanding what drives traffic to your site and more importantly traffic that ends up in lead generation or client acquisition you need to start annotating events. Are social media campaigns really driving traffic to the site? Is email still an effective marketing outreach method for you? What happens if I send out the email blast before the social media blast? What happens if I send it out after? Does sending the same email out a second time still produce traffic? All of these and many more questions are answerable if you have the tool set up to work for you.
  • Analytics // compare metrics: Sometimes visits to the site doesn’t tell the whole story. Google Analytics has given us a way to compare other metrics. Annotations will help show that a low traffic day may still hold useful insight. We can see that on Feb 13th we had very low visits but very high average time on site. By looking at the top content report, for that specific day, we can see that this higher than average time on site is a result of people viewing the embedded SEO seminar slides. After checking that date I can see we posted on various social sites that the slides were available. We can now place an annotation on that date. We now know that posting follow up information doesn’t bring many visitors to the site, but those who do come are very engaged.
  • Analytics // bounce rates defined: What is a bounce rate? Let’s say a visitor landed on and left from a given page (any page) on your site without visiting another page. That would be counted as a bounce. If they allowed their session to timeout, Google Analytics session timeout is 30 minutes, it would register as a bounce. For example if they went to lunch, upon returning a new session would start and the previous one would be counted as a bounce. If the visitor would lose their internet connection, it may count as a new session when restored. If the user hits the back button used to leave the site or if they typed a new address into the address bar to leave. Closing the browser window or tab would count as a bounce.
  • Analytics // why is bounce important?: Bounce rate can be a strong indicator of how people are using your site. It can show a deficiency in paths to action or what can be called next steps. We want to make sure if a visitor makes it to “contact us” they end up on our confirmation page. Bounce also can show lost conversions or missed client acquisitions. This may indicate that the landing page doesn’t match the marketing offer. It also spotlights visit quality and page relevancy to your visitors. We don’t want to waste efforts attracting visitors for the wrong keyword phrases.
  • Analytics // exceptions to the bounce rule: There are some site types that will have a higher bounce rate. Blogs for example. A large percentage of blog traffic is coming for that one specific article that caught their attention. Sites that have key information, like event dates, right on the home page which require no further action.
  • Analytics // targeted keyword or not?: We could probably spend this entire time discussing how many ways Google Analytics can present keyword metrics to us. What is important to note is how keywords, landing pages, SEFurl’s, snippets or descriptions, and page titles are work together to combat bounce. Get too cute and traffic will go up, but so will bounce. Get to specific and traffic and bounce will be very low.
  • Analytics // deeper keyword research: Let’s take a look at the search engines being used for given keywords. Maybe you will find that a particular search engine is sending more traffic for a given keyword, highlighting that paid search for that keyword term may be more fruitful in that search engine.
  • Analytics // monitoring on-site search: If you have a search box on your site, you can setup Google Analytics to track how it is used. It will track things such as: start page the search was performed on, search terms, categories, destination pages, and more.Use MC cirrus2
  • Analytics // creating goals: The real goal would be to get to the confirmation page, but for simplicity I am showing contact us. An excellent use of goals is for tracking abandonment during checkout on ecommerce sites. Only five goals are allowed per profile and up to fifty profiles per site. Some goals include: landed on a page, bought something, downloaded something, followed an off site link.Additional goals will be set up from “Analytics Settings” » “Edit” » “+ Add goal” “Goals are limited to 5 per profile”
  • Analytics // visualizing goals: To visually track the steps we can add a funnel to the goal. This is a very valuable way to see how people are interacting with your site. Where is the abandonment so we can correct it.“Goals are limited to 5 per profile”
  • Analytics // depth of visit: Other factors sometimes tell a more accurate story. Let’s look at how many pages our visitors look at. Why is this important? The difficult truth is it depends on the type of site and the pages they are landing on. If you have a specific landing page with a sign up form, then two pageviews, one for the signup and one for the confirmation would be accomplishing your goal. If however you have an ecommerce site you want a higher pageview count. Generally speaking.The checkout procedure on an ecommerce site could easily be 4 pageviewsby itself! Cart, shipping, account/payment, confirmation, thank you.
  • Analytics // brand awareness anyone?: Maybe a better indicator for your site would be new visitors vs returning visitors. Both visitor types are important of course, but if you just started a brand awareness campaign you would certainly expect to see an influx of visits from new visitors.
  • Analytics // tracking location awareness: What if we wanted to see how a radio, TV, or say direct mail campaign for awareness was working in a particular area? Let’s check the Map Overlay to see how that awareness promo we did in Indianapolis worked for us?
  • Analytics // awareness campaign by visitor type: Now let’s select "Dimension: Visitor Type“ This directly shows us how many "New Visitors" our promo provided in this region.If we had an ongoing campaign we would be monitoring this through the duration of the campaign to show when you peak and start to hit diminishing returns. This could be added to your dashboard, exported to a report, or emailed through the duration of the campaign as well.Play with the “none: X” to see various other factors.
  • Analytics // awareness campaign by source: Now let’s select "Dimensions: Source“ This shows direct traffic vs SE traffic was the promo effective for URL awareness. If a large percentage come from search engines then they had to look for you. If most come from "(direct)", meaning they typed the URL into the browser they remembered your domain name from the promo.Play with the “none: X” to see various other factors.
  • Analytics // referring the most traffic: In this view I can see, because I took the time to annotate it by the way, that this large spike came as a result of submitting a story to a social bookmarking/sharing service. Was this the best traffic though?
  • Analytics // referring the best traffic: Here we can see that visits from Facebook looked at more pages per visit, spent more time on the site, and had a lower bounce rate.If showing MC The Vera Bradly Outlet sale April 29th- May 2nd .
  • Analytics // metrics for site improvement: Why are analytics worth a bit of time each week and how can we use analytics to improve our site, our marketing, and conversions? The first thing analytics does for us is to change opinion into to data. This is not very good news for people who like to be right. I include myself in that group by the way. Really thought, more than a desire to be right, we want to do right. That requires evidence. We can also measure media and marketing effectiveness. Did that trade show really send traffic to the site? Did they contact you via the site? How about allocating budgets based on campaigns with high return and conversions. Which cities should we resend that direct mail piece out to? Of course the Holy Grail of analytics is testing, testing, and more testing. This is the basis of a NetCentered approach. We want a convergence of offline and online marketing efforts based on measurable return.
  • We at Cirrus ABS and Element Three appreciate you taking the time to learn how to improve your internet marketing efforts. Please let us know how we can help you.
  • Visit or for more information.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Google Analytics:Understanding Google Analytics as an Effective Measurement Tool
      A summer seminar series. Part 4of 4. &
    • 2. Objectives for Today
      How do I efficiently get reports for myself and others?
      Turn opinion into data.
      Find what’s working and what’s not.
      How to improve your site for conversion.
      Slides will be made available to you after the event.
    • 3. Analytics // facing the reality of analytics
      time + knowledge
      keeping up and interpreting can be a full time job
      configurable via the analytics dashboard & onsite via site code
      someone will know more about a specific use
    • 4. Analytics // hippo hunting
      hippo hunting with a bonus expert tag to fill
      turning opinion into data
      * hippo = highest paid persons opinion
    • 5. Analytics // why analytics matter
      what’s really working
      measuring marketing, promotions, and advertising methods
      prudent allocation of marketing dollars based on ROI
      where do visitors really come from
      offline and online tracking of marketing
    • 6. Analytics // why analytics matter
      what might not be working
      what keyword phrases are we found by
      who is our audience (browsers, resolution, platforms)
      what pages are popular and how long do visitors stay on those pages
      does the copy, call to actions, or imagery need changed
      what pages or items might be causing issues (errors, bounce rate)
    • 7. Analytics // the different choices
      server level statistics (installed by host; AW Stats, WebTrends, Urchin)
      CMS (specific to each content management system)
      third party (external to site services; Google Analytics, Chartbeat, Clicky, Woopra)
      aggregators (stats from multiple sources and services)
      niche’ (measure specific services or metrics; ClickTale, Facebook Insights, Buzz-Charts, Twitter Grader)
      hit counters (lined out for a reason)
    • 8. Analytics // so why Google Analytics?
      in 2005 Google purchases Urchin
      Urchin was a top player in analytics
      simpler interface than most server analytics
      ties in with AdWords for campaign tracking
      it is free
      Google is taking over the world
      Cirrus ABS needed a vehicle for proving our
      process and solutions were producing better results
      • online marketing on the rise, traditional marketing declining
      • 9. importance of search engine optimization
      • 10. visitor centric sites with paths to conversion
    • Analytics // but the numbers don’t match
      each software developer decides what metrics
      should be included and the criteria that make them up
      total page hits VS visitations
      unique user sessions per day VS absolute unique visitors
      session timeout in 20min/cookie expiration VS 30 min session timeout for GA
      news items viewed VS pageviews
    • 11. Analytics // customizing your dashboard
      get the information you need quickly
      browse to the report you want to add
      select the “add to dashboard” button
      select the “view dashboard” link
      repeat for other reports you would like to add
    • 12. Analytics // reports to share or keep
      exporting one time reports
      navigate to the report you want to createexample: “content” > “top content”
      select the “export” drop down tab
      select the appropriate format
      PDF (vector output for quality visual reference, ease of sharing)
      XML (extensible markup language)
      CSV (comma separated value, Excel)
      TSV (tabbed separated value, Excel)
      save (different per browser)
    • 13. Analytics // scheduled attention
      create an automated report
      navigate to the report you want to create
      example: “content” » “top content”
      click the “email” button
      click the “schedule” tab
      input emails and/or check “send to me”
      fill in the remaining fields
      select the desired format
      select daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly
      optionally select to include a “date comparison”
      click “schedule”
    • 14. Analytics // doomed to repeat the past?
      comparing a specified date range to the past
      select a month (from the main dashboard)
      check “compare to past” and select a previous month
      click “apply”
    • 15. Analytics // annotating key events
      a newer feature of Google Analytics is annotation
      select a date range (from the main dashboard)
      click the dot that corresponds to a date of a known event
      type in the annotation and save
    • 16. Analytics // compare metrics
      let’s compare some metrics for better insight
      click the “visits” drop down tab
      click the “compare two metrics”
      hover over points on the graph for more information
      select other metrics to compare
    • 17. Analytics // bounce rates defined
      what is a bounce rate?
      landed on and left from a given page (any page) on your site
      allowed their session to timeout (GA’s session timeout is 30 minutes)
      upon returning from eating lunch a new session would start and the previous one would be counted as a bounce
      a lost internet connection may count as a new session when restored in some situations
      back button used to leave the site
      typed a new address into the address bar to leave
      closed the browser window or tab
      no further, currently defined, action took place
      they might have called but unless you have a special phone number…
    • 18. Analytics // why is bounce important?
      bounce as an indicator
      possible inadequate paths to action (next steps)
      if they make it to “contact us” do they end up on “thank you”
      shows lost conversions or missed client acquisitions
      does the landing page match the marketing offer
      spotlights visit quality and page relevancy to visitors
      wasted efforts attracting visitors for the wrong keyword phrases
    • 19. Analytics // exceptions to the bounce rule
      certain sites/visits are likely to have higher bounce rates
      blogs and news, where the visitor is looking at a specific article
      informational searches (as opposed to navigational or transactional)
      follow a search result for specific information
      sites with timely information on the homepage
      event calendars and clubs
      according to AvinashKaushik, a respected GA’s expert, an average bounce rate is 40-60%. “It is really had to get a bounce rate under 20%, anything over 35% is cause for concern, 50% (above) is worrying.” AvinashKaushik
    • 20. Analytics // targeted keyword or not?
      let's see a keyword example for a given metric
      click “traffic sources" in the left nav
      select “keywords"
      select "non-paid”
      reasons for high keyword bounce rate
      incorrect keyword target for your site
      the landing page doesn’t fit the visitors needs
      unclear SEFurl's, meta descriptions, or page titles
      found exactly what they needed and required no further action
    • 21. Analytics // deeper keyword research
      where are people searching from
      click a "keyword" link
      select “dimension: source" to see traffic by search engines
      now we can investigate high bounces by term and search engine
    • 22. Analytics // monitoring on-site search
      site search setup information
      if you have a search box on your site
      must know the parameters of each type
      edit via the Google Analytics profile
      tracking how visitors search on your site
      click “content” in the left nav
      click “search terms” (what are they looking for)
      click “start pages” (where they get lost most often)
      click “usage” (is it trending up or down after a recent change)
    • 23. Analytics // creating goals
      first time goal creation
      click “goals" in the left nav
      select “set up goals and funnels"
      select “add goal”
      name the goal “contact us”
      select the “url destination” radio button
      go to your contact us page and copythe url, now paste that url into the “goal url” box
      click “save goal”
      note: additional goals setup from “analytics settings” » “edit” » “+ add goal”
    • 24. Analytics // visualizing goals
      adding a funnel to the goal
      click “yes, create a funnel for this goal”
      enter the first url and name it
      click “add goal funnel step”
      repeat step 2 and 3 until the funnel is complete
    • 25. Analytics // depth of visit
      how many pages do they visit?
      click “Visitors" in the left nav
      select “Visitor Loyalty"
      select “Depth of Visit”
    • 26. Analytics // brand awareness anyone?
      comparing new vs returning visitors
      click “Visitors" in the left nav
      select “New vs. Returning“
    • 27. Analytics // tracking location awareness
      how did that awareness campaign work for us?
      click “visitors" from the left navigation
      select “map overlay”
      click the "United States“
      click "Indiana" (on map or words)
      click "Indianapolis” (on map or words)
      make sure your date range matchesthe promo dates
    • 28. Analytics // tracking location awareness
      awareness campaign by visitor type
      now let’s select “none: visitor type“ this shows us how many “new visitors“ our promo provided in this region
      each column gives us a little insight how the promo worked
      monitoring this through the duration of the campaign would show when you peak and start to hit diminishing returns
      this could be added to your dashboard, exported to a report, or emailed through the duration of the campaign
    • 29. Analytics // tracking location awareness
      awareness campaign by source
      now let’s select “none: source"
      (direct traffic vs SE traffic) was the promo effective for URL awareness
      if a large percentage come from search engines they had to look for you
      if shown as "(direct)", meaning they typed the URL into the browser they remembered your domain name from the promo
    • 30. Analytics // referring the most traffic
      which referring sites send you the most traffic
      select a date range if desired
      click “traffic sources” in left nav
      click “referring sites”
    • 31. Analytics // referring the best traffic
      which referring sites send you the best traffic
      review: visits, pages/visit, time on site, % new visits, bounce rate
      change to “visitor type” to see new visitors to the site
      change to “region” to see where the visits come from(keeping in mind that ISP don’t always report correctly)
      note how the bounce rate climbs the farther away they are(if the site is location sensitive)
      If your paying for banner advertisement, or any other type of paid’re looking for quality of conversion not simply traffic
    • 32. Analytics // metrics for site improvement
      analytics to improve sites, marketing, and conversion
      change opinion into to data (hippo vs your users)
      measure media and marketing effectiveness
      allocate budgets to campaigns with returns or conversions
      testing, testing, testing… measure changes (onsite or offsite)
    • 33. We'll Help You Master Internet Marketing
      These days it’s more important than ever for you to reach new prospects, satisfy customers, find new efficiencies, and grow your business. The Web's the way to do it. We can help.