10 Actionable Google Analytics Tips

Campaign · Digital Marketing

Google Analytics is a digital marketer's best friend. It's a rich source of relevant website data any business strategist can use to analyze their own sales process and identify areas of strength along with inefficiencies. But do you know exactly what to look for when you read analytics data?

Navigating its complex platform and putting all that data to good use can be challenging. Google Analytics can produce hundreds of different reports in seconds, thousands if you do a little tweaking. Accessing the valuable actionable data you can use to boost sales requires a bit of in-depth knowledge.

Metrics such as users, pageviews, bounce rates and session durations form the basis of these reports, but they don't necessarily tell the right story. Here are 10 actionable tips for using Google Analytics.

1. Set Up Custom Alerts

One of the biggest issues that come with the massive amount of information Google Analytics provides is the time it takes to find useful data. It can take hours for marketers to locate the type of information they need to help boost revenue. Thankfully, you can program it to create and email custom reports at regular intervals.

Start by entering the Admin section of your Analytics account. Go to the View section, select All Website Data and then Custom Alerts. From here you can indicate what kind of activity you want to be alerted to by e-mail or text message. 

If you use Alert Conditions, you can customize which conditions you wish to be alerted about. There's no limit to the number of alerts you can set up. It might be best to create alerts for the type of information you monitor on a daily or weekly basis. This way you can spend less time fishing for reports and simply rely on alerts sent out by Analytics.

2. Find Your Real Conversion Rate

It's something every digital marketer experiences. Despite creating engaging and shareable content with thousands of views, few people make purchases. Conversion rates online are typically poor because many users who visit your site from an outside source aren't interested in your product or service.

But the problem is each visitor to your website is weighed equally in your conversion data. If you want to find out what your real sales numbers are, you need to filter out users who bounce away quickly.

Go to Source/Medium under Acquisition. Create a new segment where you can customize parameters. Under Behavior, adjust the Session Duration element so that anybody who stayed on your site for less than a few seconds are removed from the equation. Click Save, and you can finally get a better idea of what your actual conversion rate might be.

3. Analyze On-Site Searches

If somebody is new to your site, they may have difficulty navigating at first. It can be a big help if you have a search bar to help them find what they're looking for, and collecting on-site search data can lead to amazing insight. 

On-site search terms reports show you the most common searches made on your site, including the exact keywords used. It can give you a clue as to what people might expect when they visit your website. It's a great way of gathering keyword data and can help drive up engagement numbers if you use it to provide content people want.

Find the data by going to Site Search and Search Terms under the Behavior report section.

4. See How Leads Turn Into Sales

Understanding how consumers navigate your site from the moment they click to enter until they make a purchase can help you improve the flow of sales. What causes them to choose your product and why?

Analytics can help by providing a Behavior Flow report, found in the Behavior section, to give you an idea what content people land on before deciding to buy, and what pages they tend to visit next. 

If you sort it by New Users, you can get data on visitors who were not likely to be aware of your brand and shows you how they navigated your site. You can use this data to see common page sequences that you can then leverage into a better consumer experience.

5. Analyze Mobile and Desktop Sales

Mobile traffic has jumped ahead of desktop traffic in recent years and is the driving factor in traffic numbers worldwide. 

Many web administrators still spend more time optimizing desktop versions of their sites instead of mobile, which could be a huge mistake. If you want to get the details of mobile vs. desktop on your website, you can analyze the same and conversion rates of both platforms. This can show you where you need to focus in terms of generating sales.

Do this by using the Mobile Overview report under Audience. Once inside, segment the data by selecting your primary conversion rate or sales goal. This will sort the information between desktop, mobile and tablet traffic, including total conversions. 

Pay attention to both the amount of traffic and conversion rate. If a platform has high traffic but low conversions, it's likely that platform isn't easy for users to convert on.

6. Find Site Speeds and Improve Them

Nobody wants to wait for a website that takes too long to load. Site speed is crucial to sales and search engine optimization. Slow speeds can kill sales potential before people even fully load a web page.

Analytics can show you loading speeds for specific pages on your site so you can easily see which ones need optimization. Go to the Page Timings report under Site Speed. Here you can see all of your site's pages and compare speeds. 

Any pages that are slow to load could be costing you customers. If you go back to the Speed Suggestions report, you can see average load times for every page, their PageSpeed Score along with suggestions for how to boost speeds.

7. Reverse Engineer Sales

Thanks to Google Analytics, there's no need to speculate about what triggered a buyer's journey. By using the Reverse Goal Path report under Conversions and Goals, you can access concrete data and use it to reverse engineer online sales. It shows you users who made purchases on your site along with a history of pages they landed on before buying.

The first column shows you which landing page they converted on, and every following column shows you the previous step they took before the sale. By reverse engineering the process of common sales, you can figure out ways of better guiding people through each page that leads to sales.

8. Compare New and Returning Users

It's a sales question that persists even in the modern digital world, Should I try to increase customer lifetime values or focus on customer acquisition? Do I sell more to existing customers or try to bring in new ones?

Analytics has a feature to help you make that decision. Start by clicking on New vs. Returning under Audience. The table you see will show you how much of your traffic and active site visitors are new users or returning customers. 

If you want more insight into how each group compares and contributes to your bottom line, sort the table by Goal Conversion Rate. Take a look at your sales in the bottom right-hand corner. If you find sales from new visitors are through the roof at a low cost per conversion, you may want to shift your focus and put more energy toward on attracting new customers. 

If your sales are bolstered by returning customers who convert often and for cheap, it may be wise to focus mainly on them.

9. Determine How Many Times it Takes for a Person to Convert

One thing many salespeople wonder about is how long and how many visits it takes for customers to convert. We can find out through Analytics by using the Path Length report under Multi-Channel Funnels. It shows how many interactions a user goes through before making a purchase. 

Going to Path Length in Interactions you can see the most common page visits users make before a conversion.

Markets can use this data in email and social media campaigns. It's important to understand you can't go for the sale right away. Show people the path, and they will eventually reach the decision to purchase on their own. 

If you see any sales coming from a single path touch, it's probably because they came from direct links and already knows about your company. Concentrate on longer paths and remember many consumers need to be warmed up before buying.

10. Exclude Internal Traffic

It's a basic truth that we check our own websites more often than customers. It's all part of making sure everything is functioning perfectly. Unfortunately, these visits affect web data by adding more visits, but no conversions.

Analytics lets you filter out your own IP address and those of your co-workers when generating reports. Do this by going to the Admin section of your dashboard and clicking on Filters

Create a new filter, and as a type pick predefined and exclude traffic from specific IP addresses. Enter every address you wish to exclude from your data.

Google Analytics can provide you with a goldmine of data, but it can be overwhelming if you're seeking specific information. 

By following the 10 steps above, hopefully, you can get closer to finding actionable data to help you improve sales and conversion rates.

About The Author
Clodagh O'Brien

Clodagh is a Content Marketing Specialist at the Digital Marketing Institute. She has a passion for words and in her spare time writes flash fiction and tries to limit her Netflix watching to two shows a night (three max).