Six easy steps to master Google Analytics

Six easy steps to master Google Analytics

How effective use of data can unlock a better understanding of your customer’s user journey

As a trainer and marketing author, I am often asked: “What is the secret of effective digital marketing?” The answer I always give is deliberately simple and actually applies to all marketing. It’s a universal truth and will never change. It’s always been true, and it always will be true no matter how much digital technologies disrupt the world and drive change.

Now, this little nugget of pure marketing gold needs delivering in a dramatic way. So I want you to imagine me looking shiftily left and right to check that only you and I can hear what I am about to share. I then face you with a hard and serious stare, place one hand firmly on your shoulder in some sort of bond of trust and in a stage whisper for added drama I say… (Too much? That’s a fair point, but go with it. It is, after all, a fantastic insider tip, and one of the best I could ever give you...)

Are you ready…? 

OK, here goes…

The secret of effective marketing is…

(We both lean in…)

“Do more of what works!”

Managing your own brilliant marketing

While I have deliberately over dramatised that one for comic effect, when you’ve stopped laughing — or more likely groaning! I’d like you to reflect on what we just shared. There is of course no denying that it’s the truth. However, if you accept that, you also have to accept that in order for you to follow this mantra, you are going to need to be measuring a lot of things. Multiple customer journeys in today’s world are rarely straightforward. But how often do we up our measurement game? ‘If it is measured then it can be managed’ is the commonly applied management mantra and managing your own brilliant marketing is no exception. It requires brilliant measurement.

All too often marketers don’t put enough emphasis on measurement techniques, and that is what I want to address in this article. This was also covered in my recent webinar, Understanding your customer’s digital journey, where I share lots of practical examples and even more techniques for those of you who are keen to up your measurement game. In the meantime, discover six easy ways you can supercharge your digital marketing through effective measurement.

1) Learn with Google

If you are looking for ways to better make use of your data in Google Analytics (GA), you should start with the obvious first step of learning from Google. So many marketers who have a GA account fail to realise that they actually have some great step-by-step training courses specific to the platform on demand at their fingertips, via the Google Analytics Academy.

2) Make use of GA annotations

And here is a question for those of you who feel you have mastered GA. Are you making full use of annotations? So few marketers are using this feature, which is mind boggling considering it’s one of the most insightful and powerful things you can do with the GA platform. Digital tracking tends to favour digital mediums and that has led to a massive bias towards results measured by digital channels. To combat this, annotate your offline marketing activity on your GA and look out for clear and regular correlations. If you aren’t sure how to do this, join the upcoming webinar and we will walk you through this.

3) Annotate offline events

Target Internet did this recently with great success for one small London fashion brand. We found six traffic spikes over an eight-week period, each of which resulted in between a 200% to 300% increase in new customers purchasing their products. There was no explanation for where this traffic had come from until we annotated their offline activity and saw some really clear correlation. It was actually the result of marketing and PR efforts on traditional channels. Before we did the annotating, the belief was that these customers had just magically come from organic and direct traffic, because that's all the analytics showed. 

Recently, one TV mention of their newest product actually bought their website down for 10 minutes as it drove thousands of curious new customers to the site all at the same time. Correlations like that are easier to spot certainly, but the more you annotate the better you understand what’s driving big change.

4) Annotate key digital events 

Start annotating anything significant that influences those graphs and charts. Any digital or real-world events that help explain the changes. I’d like to see marketers annotate every time they send any significant emails, annotate any relevant real world events, trade shows, TV or media mentions, big promotions, even competitor activity if it has a big enough impact.

5) Mastering multi-channel data

The more you invest in your own analytics knowledge, the more you will begin to see things more holistically. Customers are not neatly compartmentalised as analytics reports would have you think. There aren't email customers and PPC customers. I doubt there are even many exclusively social media customers unless you have mastered an end to end shopping experience on social. Customers react to whichever channel is easiest for them to reach in the given moment. In digital, it’s often skewed to channels that have a habit of appearing handily beneath the customers’ fat lazy thumbs as they go about their frantic digital clickstream-filled days. Invest in your analytics knowledge and learn more about your customers, and their user journey to drive more effective marketing.

6) Facebook attribution

Google isn’t the only game in town these days when it comes to measuring performance. Facebook has some handy tools to hand. Facebook Attribution is easy to set up and definitely an area you should explore. Unlike the majority of GA reports, what Facebook attribution does is a little different. I am sure you will have heard of the drawbacks of last-click attribution. That’s how the majority of GA reports work; tending to assign the value of a conversion to the activity which resulted in the last click before that conversion took place. But all too often you are left asking: ‘Yes, but what about the activities that happened further upstream from the conversion? How are they playing their part?’

The more you look at and explore wider attribution models, the more you will hunger for a tool which gives you a simple enough overall picture to follow which you can explain to others. Facebook’s Attribution tool attempts to do just that. They take a much broader look at your attribution window and it’s not entirely Facebook-centric either. It’s really useful, particularly if you are doing a lot of Facebook advertising as it gives you insights GA reports simply cannot. 

If you would like to know more about this technique or anything else discussed in this article, I shared many practical examples of what this tool can do and how it reports, along with lots of other practical steps you can take to supercharge your measurement in my recent webinar, so please do catch up on demand now.

From SEO to display advertising, learn practical skills on the seven key digital marketing channels with the brand new CIM Digital Marketing Channels online course, developed in partnership with Target Internet. Get started today. 

Ciaran Rogers Marketing Director Target Internet
Back to all