Google Analytics is an incredibly valuable resource for your business. Not only can you use it to track your digital marketing, but it can be used to track your offline marketing as well. Google Analytics helps you understand what’s working and what isn’t, so you can focus your budget on what is actually benefiting your business.
The problem for many small business owners is that Google Analytics can feel overwhelming and a bit complicated to get started with.
Here are answers to the 6 most common questions small business owners ask about Google Analytics…
1. Why do I need it?
I already started to answer this one above, but let me expand on it a little further.
Let’s pretend for a minute that you decided to take a road trip to a destination you’ve never visited before. You take a quick look at a map, get in the car and start driving. But, you never bother to look at your GPS along the way and instead make a few wrong turns that get you stuck in traffic which makes your trip take 5 times as long as it would have if you’d used your Google Maps app to get an updated traffic report.
Doing your marketing without using Google Analytics is like taking a trip without looking at your GPS.
With Google Analytics you can generate reports and set goals that tell you where your customers are coming from and what helps them to convert. This allows you to make choices that will help to grow your business quickly and efficiently, rather than flying blindly and taking wrong turns on the way.
By using Google Analytics you can save yourself a lot of time, money, and energy by focusing on what actually works for your business.
2. What does it do?
In short, Google Analytics reports and tracks the traffic that comes to your website. Within Analytics you’re able to see where your website traffic is coming from, what type of device people are using to access your website, and see the demographics of the people visiting your site.
But, just because you’re driving traffic to your site doesn’t mean that traffic is turning into sales.
That’s why Google Analytics also allows users to set up “Goals” where you can define key actions on your website that you want visitors to take. For example, you can create a Goal that measures how many prospects complete a contact form and then analyze which traffic source is driving the most people who are actually completing that goal and therefore are more likely to convert into business.
3. How do I set it up?
Setting up Google Analytics for your website is a fairly straightforward process. However, it’s extremely important to make sure that it’s set up correctly from the start. Otherwise, you could be reading reports and looking at information that is not correct, and then basing your marketing decisions on false data.
There are 5 key steps to setting up your Analytics account:
- Create Your Account
- Set Your Goals
- Link Your Google Search Console
- Link to Google AdWords
- Set Up E-Commerce Analytics
In our last article, we walked through these steps and provided complete details on Google Analytics set up. Click here to read the article: 5 Steps to Set Up Your Google Analytics Account.
4. What reports should I look at?
The types of reports you look at can vary for each business. However, there are two key reports that every business should be reviewing.
The first is the Source/Medium Report.
This report provides you with data about the source of your traffic (such as Google, Facebook, or your email newsletter) and the medium of your traffic (search ads, email, display ads, etc.).
Once you’ve set up Goals, this report lets you see how different types of traffic are converting into leads and sales. With this information, you can more easily determine where to allocate your marketing budget and resources.
To generate the Source/Medium report, go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium.
The second is the Channels Report.
The Channels report is a broader view of all the information collected for your Source/Medium reports.
Rather than view data for channels according to specific referrers or types of traffic, the Channels report shows larger trends according to broader traffic categories such as paid search, email or social media traffic.
Business owners can use this report to quickly grasp which marketing channels are providing the best results for their bottom line. Also, results from this report can reveal which marketing efforts are falling short.
Most small business owners can get all the information they need from the Default Channel Grouping of the Channels report. The default grouping encompasses the following channels: direct, organic search, referral, email, paid search, social, display and other advertising. To acquire additional channel data, the criteria for each type of traffic can be edited or new channel groupings can be added.
To generate the Channels report, go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels and then select the proper date rate.
5. What is the difference between Google Analytics and Google Ads conversion tracking?
Another version of this question is, “Do I need Google Analytics if I’m already using Google Ads Conversion tracking?” and vice versa. The answer is yes, you should use both.
To clarify, Google Ads conversion tracking only tracks traffic and conversions directly from your Google Ads campaigns (formerly known as AdWords). Google Analytics tracks traffic and conversions from all of your marketing channels, including Google Ads.
In other words, Google Analytics is like an All-Purpose kitchen cleaner, while Google Ads is like a stainless steel cleaner. Both of them can be used to clean your appliances, but you’re not going to use the stainless steel cleaner on your countertops.
So why do you need to use Google Ads conversion tracking if you’re already using Google Analytics?
To answer this question, we need to better understand a term called “attribution.” That leads us to the final FAQ…
6. What is “attribution”?
Attribution is the process of giving a marketing channel credit for a conversion. For example, if you generated 5 sales yesterday, then which marketing channel should you attribute those sales to?
The answer to that question is surprisingly difficult and depends on the attribution model you’re using. To keep things simple, I’ll only address 2 attribution models: Last Click and First Click.
Bear with me here because we’re going to jump back and answer FAQ #5 in just a second…
With Last Click attribution, we’re going to attribute the conversion to the last marketing channel the website visitor clicked on. For example, if I clicked on an organic search result in Google and then purchased a product on your website, then that sale conversion would be attributed to Organic Search, or SEO, since it was the last click. It doesn’t matter if I had previously clicked on an ad last week or if I am already on your email newsletter. The conversion will be attributed to the last click.
With First Click attribution, we’re going to attribute the conversion to the first marketing channel the website visitor clicked on. Let’s use the same exact example as above where the last click was an organic search result in Google. If the first click was last week on a Google ad, then that same sale would be attributed to Google Ads.
Now you see why attribution is not so simple. And this leads us back to the question above, “Why do you need Google Ads conversion tracking if you’re already using Google Analytics?”
The answer is because you’ll get the full picture if you’re using both. By default, Google Ads uses First Click attribution and Google Analytics uses Last Click attribution. Plus, Google Analytics will give you more insight into the visitor behavior after clicking on your ads. For those two reasons, I recommend using both tracking tools.