Access Untapped Marketing Potential via Google Analytics!

For this post, I will be focusing on the platform principles of Google Analytics. Why? To help you access untapped marketing potential!

Before I get started I would like to note that Google Analytics is crucial for two very important reasons.  Not only will it help you make informed decisions about data collection, but it will also help interpret the data seen in your analytic reports.  Now, in order to do so, one must understand the ins & outs of platform principles and how they work.

The 1st unit discusses the four main parts of the Google Analytics platform. These four parts include:

1.Collection 2. Configuration 3. Processing 4. Reporting

Collection is all about getting data in to your account.  This step requires one to add Google Analytics tracking codes to ALL PAGES of your site(s) in order to collect relevant data.  For example, websites use javascript tracking codes and apps use SDK’s (Software Development Kits).  The next step is processing.  During data processing, Google Analytics transforms the raw data from collection using configuration settings.  This stage merges all data sources to create the reports.  It’s important to note that once the data has been processed, it cannot be changed.  The last stage is the reporting stage.  This stage allows one to access and analyze your data through tools and visualizations.  It’s also good to understand something Google calls the data model.

There are three components to the data model:

1. Users 2. Sessions 3. Interactions.

A user is a visitor to your website or app.  A session is the time they spend there, and the interactions are what they do when they get there.  It’s easier if you think of the data model in terms of a restaurant.  For example, say you are a customer who visits a restaurant, this would make you a user.  You forgot to make a reservation on a Friday night, and discover the wait time is thirty-minutes.  This would translate to a thirty-minute session in terms of the data model.  Now let’s say you are ravenous and decide to leave, that would be your interaction with the restaurant.

The 2nd unit focuses on tracking codes.

Tracking codes are important because they collect information about a users activity, whether that be on a website, mobile device, or any web connected device.  Google then conveniently and efficiently packages that information for you.  Putting it lightly, tracking codes collect and transmit user activity data, identify new and returning visitors, and associate all of the data to your specific account.  Pretty useful stuff when you think about it.  How valuable would that information be for a new business in town?  I know I would certainly like to know who was returning traffic and who is brand new.  This unit also touched on the JavaScript code for websites.  In order for Google Analytics to work properly (I will repeat this again because it is so important) the code that correlates with your medium (ie javascript for websites or SDK’s for Apps) must be on every page of your site in order to track the site properly.  The code should be inserted before the closing tag in the html so the code can track traffic even if the page was not given the proper amount of time to load. Pretty neat!  It was also refreshing to hear that Google Analytics creates anonymous unique identifiers using third-party cookies. Debunking Kay’s paranoia of being watched.  These ID’s also allow for GA to identify whether that user is new or returning.  When it comes to tracking any web-connected device, I found it very interesting that the measurement protocol contains a specific parameter in the hit that even measures the screen resolution of that visitors specific device.  Now you may be thinking Google Analytics is smart, but not that smart. Wrong!  Google Analytics can not only track apps and websites, but it can reach virtually any web-connected device, for example kiosks.

The 3rd unit touches on processing and configuration.  This step helps one learn how to be better at interpreting and managing data in your reports.  Please note*** before I go any further, the most important configuration is a filter that separates internal data from your results.  By default your own visits are being tracked, so in order to fix this, a filter is needed to block traffic from the IP address at your home and office.  By default, a session ends after 30 minutes of inactivity; however, the session timeout length should probably be modified for sites that have less tools for users to interact with, such as videos.  I also learned about goals in this unit. Goals let you specify which page views, screen views or other hits should be used to calculate conversions.

The 4th and final unit of GA platform principles (hang in there) focuses on the building blocks of reporting analytic results.  In this unit it’s important to make note of dimensions and metrics.  Dimensions describe characteristics of your data.  Metrics are the quantitative measures of your data.  Most often your results will be reported using a combination of the two.  The last and final section of the 4th unit discusses something known as report sampling.  Reporting sampling uses subsets of data as opposed to your entire available data set to generate reports. Sampling can be useful because it helps retrieve your data faster, eliminating long delays.

In addition to the platform principles of Google Analytics, I would like to focus your attention on to an article titled “6 Google Analytic Tools Your Company Probably Isn’t Using But Should” by John Boitnott.

The 1st is attribution modeling.  This helps you see the relationship you are having with your customers with factors like conversion rates.  From a certain number of views a user made, how many views turned into purchases?

The 2nd is E-commerce tracking.  This feature helps you see changes in online selling success.

The 3rd is goal flow. Goal flow helps you see where customers are getting lost or confused on your site.

The 4th is assisted conversions. This sources your leads, conversions, and customer loyalty.

The 5th tool is advanced segmentation. This helps you measure things like your SEO campaign efficiency.

Last but not least, the 6th tool is analytics alerts.  This tool alerts you when valuable changes have been made in traffic patterns.

Well, there you have it! I just highlighted all four platform principles of Google Analytics. Hopefully these helpful hints and important notes will guide you through an effective process of obtaining analytic results that will help change the way you do business. Until next time!


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