Setting Up Google Analytics
On the surface, getting started with Google Analytics is incredibly easy. The ideal way to use Google Analytics is via Google Tag Manager (GTM), which is also seemingly very straightforward, since all you need to do is set up an account and follow the steps outlined to create and implement the container code on your website, as Google describes on its GTM support website:
- Place the <script> code snippet in the <head> of your web page’s HTML output, preferably as close to the opening <head> tag as possible, but below any dataLayer declarations.
- Place the <noscript> code snippet immediately after the <body> tag in your HTML output.
But deploying GTM and collecting data in Google Analytics are only the first steps to ensuring you have all the information you need to make sound decisions about user behavior, marketing campaigns, and overall performance. For starters, “out of the box” Google Analytics isn’t customized to your unique business and your ecosystem of online sites and touchpoints.
The best example of this is one that surprises many online marketers. Did you know that when you set up Google Analytics no “goals” (such as online sales, form submissions, newsletter signups, etc.) are tracking as “conversions” unless you specifically set up those pageviews to be interpreted as conversions in the GA interface? What that means is that without additional Google Analytics setup steps you won’t necessarily be able to tell exactly how engaged your website traffic is, nor the exact sources of your brand’s online goal conversions.
Being able to rely on Google Analytics for these kinds of metrics is critical to your success. After all, whether you’ve got a basic working knowledge of Google Analytics or are a master at understanding its reports and creating segments and dimensions to find the exact details you’re looking for, it’s likely that, as an online marketer, you’re turning to the platform regularly to help you evaluate website and campaign performance. But, as often as you’re referencing data in the platform, how confident are you that you’re using GA correctly?
Data Accuracy Is Essential
Do you ever question the accuracy of the statistics and information you’re relying on from the platform? Some marketers see data that’s too good (or bad) to be true and are left wondering if it’s anomaly or an error. Others note very large disparities (some differences are typically normal between different tools) in data from Google Analytics vs. other tools (such as ERPs, CRMs, campaign channels, etc.) and know something is off. Still other marketers see no clear indicators of data inaccuracies and happily make marketing decisions solely reliant on data they see in Google Analytics that is unknowingly inaccurate or incomplete.
Like any robust platform, Google Analytics has tremendous potential when implemented properly, but errors in onsite coding, cross-domain tracking, goal tracking, or ecommerce tracking (as well as a slew of other considerations) can result in problematic or incorrect data. The good news is that a Google Analytics-certified partner (like MoreVisibility) can assist in correcting your implementation and getting your team the data you to need to improve your marketing.
Google Analytics Red Flags
So how do you know if you need help with Google Analytics? If you say “yes” to any of the following, chances are you could benefit from a thorough audit of your Google Analytics data collection and reporting:
- There are multiple websites in my brand’s typical user journey.
- My brand’s sales cycle is lengthy (it takes multiple touchpoints over several weeks or months).
- Final conversions for my brand take place offline.
- I see traffic in Google Analytics coming to my brand’s website from my brand’s website.
- My brand’s bounce rate is unbelievably low!
If your brand can reply affirmatively to any of the above clear markers of concern, then it’s essential to review and validate the accuracy of your Google Analytics data. Beyond those easily visible indicators, there are many you have to dig a little deeper to uncover, such as:
- Analytics and Google Search Console Data show big disparities: Are you seeing major discrepancies between Analytics “Visits” (viewed from the “Content Performance” section of Conductor Searchlight) and Google Search Console “Clicks” (Viewed from the “Search Console Analytics” section of Conductor Searchlight)? If so, there’s likely a problem with your Google Analytics data. Although the platforms are different, and the number of “Visits” will never exactly match the number of “Clicks,” they shouldn’t be dramatically different.
- Goal metrics are equal to page views or sessions: Your goals are set up … great news! But when a goal metric is almost equal to the number of page views or sessions that are being received, it’s likely something is wrong with the data. Goal completions typically only make a small percentage of the overall number of people who visit a page. If these numbers are almost equivalent, it’s time to take a closer look at the analytics.
- Patterns don’t align: If you see two metrics that should affect one other (like Transactions and Transaction Revenue) not following the same pattern, then something might need tuning up in Analytics. For example, if Transactions volume increases, generally speaking, Transaction Revenue should also increase (and vice versa).
Clean, accurate, robust data can make all the difference between smart marketing campaigns and website improvements and campaign mistakes and website missteps. Don’t make marketing decisions with bad data! Set up Google Analytics for success with proper GTM configuration, customization of your tracking, and implementation of business-specific additional Google Analytics edits (such as setting up relevant goals, segments, filters, profiles, etc.).
To learn more, contact the Google Marketing Platform team certified in Google Analytics, Tag Manager, Data Studio, and Optimize at MoreVisibility at firstname.lastname@example.org