What do you really know about how visitors interact with your website?
If you’re not using Google Analytics, then your answer is probably “not much.” Even if you have clickthrough and conversion data from AdWords or another advertising platform, you need Analytics to gain meaningful insights such as who visits your website, what they do when they get there and which websites they arrive from.
Here’s the best part – Google Analytics is free to use and easy to set up.
And once you start using it, you can periodically run Analytics report and see what’s working (and what isn’t) throughout your website. The information gleaned from these reports is absolutely priceless. Analytics can help you fine-tune all your digital marketing tactics and even help you track traditional tactics like print, direct mail, TV, and radio.
Let’s review the five simple steps to get started in Google Analytics.
Step 1: Create Your Account
First things first – go to www.google.com/analytics and create an account. The process is quick and self-explanatory. After creating your account, though, you’ll be given some Analytics code that needs to be placed on each page of your website – and this might be tricky if you don’t have Web design experience.
Many small business owners use WordPress, a popular content management system (CMS). If you use WordPress, Joomla or another CMS, then you can add the code to one theme file and have it applied sitewide. Otherwise, contact a Web developer for help with editing your actual pages.
Step 2: Set Your Goals
Now that you’re set up to start collecting website visitor data, you need to specify the key actions that your prospects need to take before making a purchase. In other words, what does a prospect need to do on your website in order to take the next step and become a lead or sale?
In Analytics, these are called Goals, or Conversions.
Popular goals for small business websites include measuring quote request form submissions, online purchases or appointments scheduled. You can set Goals that reveal the effectiveness of complex processes such as buying products through shopping cart systems.
In your Analytics account, create new Goals by clicking the Admin link in the top navigation menu. Next, click on “Goals” in the right-hand menu. A setup wizard then appears to get you through the process. You’ll likely have Goals that you keep indefinitely, but never stop thinking of new Goals to better understand how visitors use your website.
Step 3: Link Google Search Console
Next up is linking your Google Search Console account to your Google Analytics account. If you don’t already have a Search Console account, go to www.google.com/webmastertools to register. Then, in your Analytics account, click on Property Settings and then scroll down to the Search Console Settings, where you’ll find simple instructions for linking the two accounts.
Doing this unlocks Search Engine Optimization reports that provide invaluable information about your SEO efforts. Learn which keywords are driving traffic to your site, see your organic ranking for different keywords and get geographical data about your visitors.
Step 4: Link to Google AdWords
You can ignore this step if you’re not advertising in Google AdWords. That said, AdWords provides instant exposure to online shoppers who are much more likely to purchase goods and services than people browsing blogs, Facebook or YouTube. And AdWords campaigns can be further optimized with the data available through Analytics.
To link up your AdWords account, go to the Analytics admin area and click on AdWords Linking for simple instructions to complete the process. If you don’t have an AdWords account, you can start one for free at www.google.com/adwords.
Step 5: Set Up E-Commerce Analytics
The last step is setting up E-Commerce Analytics. Like Analytics Goals, E-Commerce Analytics can track purchases on your website. However, unlike Goals, E-Commerce Analytics also product names, price per product purchased, and total revenue.
With this information, small business owners can run reports that help highlight their strongest and weakest sources of online sales. E-Commerce Analytics can also be used to measure the success of temporary promotions or ad campaigns for specific products.
Implementing E-Commerce Analytics will likely require help from a Web developer. You can see the instructions for yourself by going to the Google Analytics Admin area and clicking on E-Commerce Settings in the right-hand column. Then send those instructions to your Web developer to get everything set up.
To be successful with digital marketing you must make data-driven decisions. If you’re not using Google Analytics, then you’re missing out on critical information to determine how best to use your marketing budget.
Fortunately, getting started with Analytics is not hard. Once you’ve completed the quick setup process and accumulated some data, you can start running reports to see which marketing channels are driving leads and sales, and which are simply wasting your dollars.