Ah, Google Analytics. THE most important tool for any website, blog and most importantly, e-commerce stores.
It baffles me when I take on a new client and they don’t have Analytics installed, or even worse, install it and don’t use it to gain insights on what is and isn’t working with their site and business.
Then there is the other bucket of users who do install and forget to configure properly. This can lead to inaccurate, incomplete or missing data which I simply can’t have.
Stop Press! @GoogleAnalytics recently Tweeted this article!
— Google Analytics (@googleanalytics) July 24, 2015
This post outlines the often-overlooked 8 steps you need to take AFTER setting up Google Analytics to really get the most of it including:
- E-commerce tracking
- Goal tracking
- Filter IP addresses
- Demographic / Interest data
- Internal site search tracking
- Connect to Webmaster Tools
- Custom dashboards & reports
- Automatic alerts
- #Bonus Tip
If you are having trouble setting up Google Analytics I suggest reading this post (don’t worry, I’ll wait!)
OK, all good? Let’s go…
1. Set up e-Commerce Tracking
This is the most obvious one. If you’re making sales, you’ll want to know what is driving them (or hindering them) so you can use this information to your advantage. E-commerce data including revenue, products sold, conversion rate, average order value etc. can all be cross referenced with traffic sources, content views, on-site actions, behaviour and more.
In addition to this you’ll be able to see the full check-out process to better analyse drop-out points which will help you improve the buying experience.
Note: Last year, Google released “Enhanced E-commerce Tracking” which goes a step further in helping you understand how people are behaving when it comes to purchasing on your site. Enhanced features include the ability to see:
- Product impressions (the number of times a product showed on a category page)
- Product clicks (how many times people clicked into the product to view more details)
- Cart addition and removal (what products made it into someone’s shopping cart – as well as if they were removed)
Setting up e-commerce tracking is fairly simple at the basic level (turning on the option in the Admin settings – see screenshot above and adding a code snippet to your checkout “Thankyou” page) but Enhanced Ecommerce Tracking requires further configuration with your shopping platform – particularly if this runs on a separate domain (i.e. shoppers are redirected to a payment portal such as Paypal or SagePay during the checkout) – you can learn more about this here:
For further information about Goals and Ecommerce tracking I highly recommend spending 10mins to watch this video by Google:
If you are confident in setting up Ecommerce tracking yourself, I also highly recommend this video too (even if you have every intention of getting someone else to set it up, it is worth knowing how it all works)…
2. Configure Goal tracking
Of course, sales wont be the only thing you want to track. Your business might want to know how many people sign up to your newsletter, or how many downloads of your brochure you get, or showroom enquiries.
By setting up goals attributed to each business KPI, you can track back and see what pages on your site are performing/under-performing, what marketing strategies lead to a brochure download or what social media works best for your business offering.
3. Filter out your own IP address(es)
If you are a curious human you’ll likely visit your own site on a regular basis – and most likely from multiple locations and devices such as the office, at home, on your mobile etc. The problem is, every time you visit your own site it is chalked up as a session which can skew your data.
To filter out any visits from you and your team that can influence your data, you’ll need to first find out the IP addresses of the computers you’ll likely access the site from. Doing this is simple enough; simply Google “What’s my IP address” and Google will display it right there in the results:
Once you have this it is time to filter out your visits. Head over to Analytics and click on the Admin tab at the top of Analytics and then click Filters.
You’ll want to hit New Filter and name it (e.g. Home IP, Office IP, Business IP etc). Then from the drop-down boxes you’ll want to Exclude the traffic from the IP addresses, that are equal to the IP address you discovered earlier and then hit Save. Easy.
4. Enable Demographic / Interest Data Tracking
Analytics affords webmasters a way of better understanding their audience’s actions – but many don’t realise how much information they can understand about their audience’s attributes; things like how old they are, what the split between male and female is, what they typically use the internet for etc.
When advertising and marketing products, knowing this stuff is GOLD. How different would your branding be if you knew the majority of your shoppers were 20 year old males? Or that they had an interest in celebrities and and were news junkies? Analytics can tell you this – but not by default, you need to switch it on…
In the Audience section of Analytics, click on both the Demographics tab and Interests tab, with both of these you’ll need to enable them but after a few days you’ll start to get data coming through.
5. Set Up Internal Site Search Tracking
If your store has an internal search bar to help customers find products, you can find out exactly what every single person types in there – pretty great huh? This can tell you what products are customer favourites, what products are hard to find, how people describe the products they are look for, keyword ideas and more.
I recently wrote a step-by-step guide on how to leverage this feature and start getting better customer insights: Set up internal site search tracking.
6. Link Analytics to Webmaster Tools (+ Adwords & more)
While Google has been ruthless in hiding keyword data from marketers in Analytics, internal site searches (above) can be a goldmine. Another way to retrieve real customer search data for your site is to link up Analytics to Webmaster Tools (assuming you have set up Webmaster Tools) – very easy to do but not a default setting.
Simply click on the Admin tab and then All Products – from here you can link up all your Google properties to Analytics such as Webmaster Tools, Adwords & Adsense by following the simple steps.
7. Set Up Appropriate Custom Dashboards & Reports
If you know your way around Analytics like a boss, count yourself lucky. While great for marketers, the average business owner will drown in waves of numbers and metrics with every new report.
Thankfully, Analytics throws us a lifeline in the way of custom dashboards. Clicking on Customization will allow you to configure reports with EXACTLY what you need to see with no fluff – i.e daily top line figures, reports for the board, performance of your last sale etc. But do you know what the best part is?…
…the internet is FULL of pre-made dashboards you can install (just Google what you are after) but better still, Google has its very own Solutions Gallery with loads of downloadable dashboards for almost everything imaginable!
#ProTip: You can also configure these to be emailed to you or your team automatically on specified dates!
8. Set Up Relevant Automatic Alerts
What happens if your payment gateway fails? What happens if your traffic suddenly drops – or intensifies? How quick would you be to ensure your demanding customers are satisfied? What if you could get an email notification, or text message so you can quickly deal with the issue?
Enter Automatic Alerts. You can set up auto-messaging to keep you on the pulse of what is going on with your store as it happens based on unusual activity in terms of traffic levels or online behaviour, unexpected developments in traffic sources, a surge (or dip) in sales or goal completions, discrepancies in daily/weekly/monthly buying patterns as so on. Setting up alerts is easy.
Under Intelligence Events, click Overview and the Custom Alerts > Manage Custom Alerts.
Click New Alert, give it a name and specify the parameters for it. Choose method of delivery and who will be notified and hit Save. Rest easy.
If this post has opened your mind as to the possibilities of Google Analytics and you are looking to learn a little more about this free awesome tool I highly recommend getting involved in their Analytics Academy program by clicking below and start earning some certifications!
Bonus – Add Annotations For Key Events
Analytics allows you to add notes on the fly to remind you of actions you’ve taken – whether it be launching a new product line, getting press, posting a new blog, sending out a newsletter about your sale, etc. – so you can cross reference any spikes or dips in traffic with events that preceded them. This is very handy and simple to do…
- The little speech bubbles depict historic annotations which can be accessed by clicking…
- The downward arrow immediately below the graph shows the details of all annotations within the date range. To add a new one, click + Create New Annotation and then hit Save.