I was talking to our web design clients and realized that Google analytics is somewhat a mystery for people. Most websites have it’s code, but a lot of owners stopped there. Well, may be checking general statistics once in a while. That’s a good start for sure, but that doesn’t use a lot of nice features Google analytics provide.
In addition to classic website statistics which tells you how many visitors came to your website, which pages they opened and where they came from, Google analytics provides additional functionality to customize your experience and collect valuable marketing data.
Here are two items which will give you the most value: goals and custom fields.
Concept of goal i simple. Do you have an action call on the site? If you don’t, you should! It may be contact form, order form, account registration, newsletter subscription, download of special report – you name it.
Now, in the Google analytics you can specify the URL of the page which represents your goal, say, thank you page for newsletter subscription. You can also add extra pages for steps which lead to the goal, for example, for the online purchase it could be product page, shopping cart page, checkout page and then final confirmation page.
Once you done that, you will be getting reports on how many times your goal was achieved, in case of multiple steps you can even see how many people dropped off on their way. And you may have multiple goals, of course, so go ahead, track all desired actions.
The best thing is, that you will also get statistics on visitors, including traffic sources, grouped by goals. Now you will know which marketing effort returns more!
Another goody which is often missed are custom fields. What are those? Simple – you can add your own variables to every click Google counts. What can it be? Article author, type of page, category, and so on. Guess what’s next? You’ll get excellent analytics data – which author gets more visitors? Goal conversions? You got the idea.
Starting using custom variables is not difficult at all – for example, if your website is using WordPress, there are ready to go plugins which will allow you to track a variety of custom variables. My personal preference is Google Analytics for WordPress plugin. Really easy to use – all you have to do is decide which variables your want to track.