Google Analytics is a powerful and free service that businesses often use to measure the effectiveness of their online marketing campaigns. The system is genuinely intuitive and offers many services that businesses have used since it first debuted.
Many companies use Google Analytics for these more well-known features.
- Traffic sources and acquisitions. Google lets you track clicks, CPC, conversions, and more with its acquisitions feature.
- Time metrics. Smarter Solutions CEO Forrest Breyfogle recommends close attention to time metrics as part of a value chain, which can lead to better results and revenue.
- Content drilldown. This feature lets you look at a given page and determine how often customers arrive there, which pages they come to it from, and where they go from there.
- Keywords. This feature shows you which keywords and types of words are bringing new visitors to your site.
- Bounce rates. Many companies harvest this data on their dashboard to see if revenue is affected by poor bounce rate.
While these well-known features can help you determine the success of past campaigns and adjust for the future, they are only part of the story. Many users are nowhere near accessing the full potential of Google Analytics. A number of underused gems can propel your analyses to the next level. Here are six of them:
1. Attribution modeling
A useful way to track a customer’s relationship with you, attribution modeling lets you plot out all existing touchpoints with customers to know when, where, and how potential leads are being reached and which are being converted. A touchpoint is any place where your customer makes contact with your website. This could be through social media, search results, email newsletters, or a link from someone’s blog.
For example, let’s say an e-commerce clothing company sees a number of hits to its site from a blog that talks about summer fashions. Through attribution modeling, the company can determine that of the nine hits to the site through this blog, six converted into purchases. This can help the company make decisions about backlinking and where to place marketing focus for future leads.
With the rise of email marketing as a popular and effective marketing tactic, attributing email list signups to their source is a common request from marketing decision makers. GetResponse blogger Kristi Hines offers a comprehensive set-up guide for integrating Google Analytics with email list signups in her article “How to Set Up Google Analytics Goals to Track Email Signups.”
2. E-commerce tracking
This real-time revenue measurement feature lets you track all purchases to date. Many companies use this feature to understand the breakdown of online versus in-store revenue or to better understand changes in their online selling success rate.
3. Goal flow
In an ideal world, customers would navigate to your site, move through the finely tuned steps you have fostered for them, and make plenty of purchases. The flow feature allows marketing analysts to take snapshots of the progression customers are actually taking, including whether they loop back, get redirected, or exit midway.
This explains customer behaviors and shows areas of your website where customers are getting confused or losing interest or where steps in the process are becoming entangled. When paired with the visualization funnel tool in GA, the goal flow feature is a great way to streamline online processes for better customer interaction.
“You want to use that goal flow feature because a company’s content can sometimes be geared more towards sending the customer down a specific path,” Tyler Brown, social media specialist at Checks-Superstore.com, told me. “If the customer leaves that path, you may instantly need to know why, and plug those gaps so to speak.”
4. Assisted conversions
Wouldn’t it be great if you could tell whether your current influx of customers came from your recent debut of an Instagram page or a well-crafted MailChimp campaign? You can. The assisted conversions feature sources your leads, conversions, and customer loyalty; it can also show where your customer base found you or what specifically inspired them to buy.
Keywords and ads sometimes work together to convert leads. It’s possible that your appearance in results for “Dentists in Seattle” helped the customer link to your site, but it was your ad in the margin of these results that helped the customer choose you over your competitor. This means that being #1 in results is not the only thing bringing traffic or conversion.
5. Advanced segmentation
Segmenting your users and customers into useful groups can help motivate action. Creating a subset for those users who visited your website from a search result as opposed to those who visited it directly will enable you to analyze how efficient your SEO campaigns have been or how familiar your URL has become to visitors. In addition, tracking brand-new hits to the website as opposed to return visitors can help determine if you need to put more funding into acquisition or retention.
6. Analytics alerts
The beauty of alerts for analytics is the customization they allow. In a general way, analytics alerts will let designated people know precisely when valuable changes have been made in traffic patterns or other data. The feature can be fully customized to register alerts when certain shifts occur.
Some companies may choose to be alerted any time a new hit happens on the website. If that’s too much for you, there’s an option to focus your alerts on a given marketing facet, such as social media, and be alerted every time someone clicks through to your website from Twitter, Facebook, and more.
Google Analytics is a strong tool for marketing analysts and offers a variety of data that can serve almost any industry. The platform can be rather exhaustive so there is a lot to explore. With a little bit of investigation, you can access tools that truly make a difference for your company’s bottom line.
John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant living in San Francisco. His writing has appeared in NBC, The Village Voice, FastCompany, and USAToday.