Aug 30, 2022
The more you know about your marketing campaigns’ performance, the better you can tweak and improve them. Google’s Universal Analytics (UA) dashboard gives you an overview of the most important metrics and reports for your campaigns. It provides an easy-to-read performance ‘snapshot’ that clearly shows key trends to clients, managers, and other non-analysts.
Note: Universal Analytics was an upgrade on the previous version of Google Analytics. It, in turn, will be replaced with GA4 in 2023. You can find out more in our essential guide to GA4.
UA reports can give you a bird’s-eye view of campaign performance in several key areas, including:
Note: Don’t just rely on UA for all your reporting data. You can get a wealth of insights from other sources too!
The first major reporting category in Universal Analytics tells you about the types of visitors who come to your website. You can access audience overview information to identify top-line statistics and information about audience activity, including GEO locations and lifetime value.
With this report, you can view demographics information, such as the age and gender of your visitors. It can be very useful to learn more about the types of people that visit your website.
You can delve a little deeper into visitor motivations with the Interests Report. This report lets you view information about user interests. You can look at affinity categories, in-market segments, and other interest categories that help you understand the browsing patterns of your visitors.
It's always important to know where your visitors are physically located, so you can use the Geo Report to view the language and location of your website visitors. Use this data to enhance your media targeting and to help you find clusters of high-value customers in different locations.
With the Audience Behavior Report, you can see behavioral information about your users. For example, you could use this report to find information on new versus returning users, frequency of user visits, engagement levels, session quality, and conversion probability.
This report provides information about the browsers, networks, and operating systems being used by your audience. This is a useful report for troubleshooting compatibility issues with certain browsers.
The Mobile Report enables you to view traffic and conversion data from mobile and desktop users, as well as the devices being used. This is particularly important for understanding how people search, browse, and buy or convert on your site on different devices.
As journeys may start and finish on different devices, the Cross Device Report aims to show you the overlap between mobile, desktop, and tablet devices in driving traffic and activity on your site.
There are four main reports in the cross device area:
The Benchmarking Report is useful for competitive analysis, as it allows you to see aggregate statistics for other sites in the same category as your website across channels, locations, and devices.
The Acquisition Tab allows you to identify the sources of traffic to your website in a series of sub-reports based on traffic type. This can help you to discover which channels are most effective, and which are not performing as well as you’d hoped.
This report allows you to find visitor traffic, conversion, and engagement data for different predefined channel types, known as default groupings or channels. These include the following.
To deep dive into the nuances of the different channels, digital marketers can look at the Source/Medium Report.
In simple terms, the Source tells us where traffic is coming from, and the Medium is the type of traffic.
The Referrals Report shows ‘referring’ sites – these are sites that link back to your website. You can use the Referrals Report to identify the high-value links for SEO and for driving quality traffic or conversions.
The Social Report enables you to view information about sources of social media interaction, social media conversions, and social plugins.
To track non-Google traffic in Universal Analytics, you can use the Campaigns Report. This allows you to report on a range of other digital marketing campaigns within Analytics, such as email newsletters and banner ads.
To get information on your organic search and SEO efforts, marketers can use the Search Console Report. This report allows you to view information regarding SEO performance in Analytics.
You can see who is coming to your website in the Audience Reporting tab, and how they got to the site in the Acquisition Reporting tab. Now, let’s look at what your users did when they got to your website. You can discover the content they viewed and how they moved through the website itself using the Behavior Reporting tab.
The Behavior Flow Report gives a view of user journeys through a website, beginning with a landing page, then moving to their first, second, and third interactions with the website. By analyzing the Behavior Flow Report, marketers should be able to optimize their website content and improve the user journey, which should help drive users towards making more on-site conversions.
You might want to look at the individual pages on your website, and see how users interacted with each page. The Site Content Report allows you to view reports on how you can improve your content to achieve better results from users.
The All Pages Report is a sub-report in Site Content. It gives a list of page-name metrics associated with each page. Using this report, you can see what pages drive the most engagement and what pages need improvement.
You can view site speed information through the Site Speed Report. This data is particularly useful, as many website visitors will leave a website if it takes too long to load. That’s why it's important to know the load time of your pages, and to see if it’s having a negative effect on user experience.
You can use Site Speed sub-report to get more detailed information:
The Site Search Report allows you to view the search terms visitors used. You can use this information to expand your keyword pool or to gain insight into what your website visitors are specifically looking for, which in turn can inform site improvements and even new product development.
You can use the Conversions reporting area to report on the valuable actions people take on your website. You can find out if you are meeting, exceeding, or missing your KPIs by using this reporting section.
The key reports in this area fall into the following categories:
Now, let’s look at the Goals reporting area. The Goals reporting area can help you understand different goal-conversion rates over a particular timeframe. This, in turn, can help you to understand trends and how to optimize performance.
You can view goal overview information through the Goals Overview Report in the Conversions tab.
The Goal URLs Report allows you to quickly check that all your goals are tracking the URLs you expect them to track.
The Funnel Visualization Report should be set up during goal creation. It provides information about the various stages of the conversion process. For example, you can track the flow through the different steps in the purchase journey, such as selecting a product, adding it to the cart, entering name and address, entering payment details, and confirming purchase. If there is a drop-off at any point, you can investigate why, and then try to improve the user journey to get more people to convert.
The Goal Flow Report shows the path your traffic travelled through a funnel towards a goal conversion. It allows marketers to see the source, medium, page, or other dimension that leads up to the goals set in Universal Analytics.
The E-commerce Report in Universal Analytics enables you to view ecommerce overview information, shopping behavior, checkout behavior, product performance, sales performance, and product list performance. The E-commerce Report requires certain specialist coding to link your website transactions to Universal Analytics. But you don't need to be a coder to implement ecommerce tracking on many retail platforms.
To help you understand the complex nature of a digital marketing conversion or purchase journey across channels, you can use the Multi-Channel Funnels Report. It assigns a value to each channel that played a role in completing a goal or transaction.
The Assisted Conversion Report can help you understand the assisted value of channels and campaigns and provides insight into how different channels function at each end of the funnel, from awareness to completed conversion.
For a very useful visualization of the typical journeys that consumers make on their paths to purchase, we can use the Top Conversion Paths Report within the Multi-Channel Funnels Report. This report provides more granular insight into the most popular journeys users take to conversion. You can then identify your opening and assisting channels, as well as your closing channels, in a visual and shareable way.
Time-lag reporting can help you understand how long it takes for a consumer to commit to purchase or signup, by showing the length of time between their first visit to your site and the day they complete a conversion.
Digital marketers can use event tracking to track the non-standard actions that people take on their websites – actions like pressing the play button on a video, or clicking a button. Neither of these actions generates a ‘thank-you page’, so they can't be tracked using standard goal set-up methods.
However, these events are important, so they need to be tracked using another method. This method is called Event Tracking and it requires additional set-up or coding to implement.
Note: While events are available in Universal Analytics, they can be difficult to set up for non-technical marketers or those with limited knowledge of tools like Google Tag Manager. This meant that a lot of important page interaction data was not reported automatically in Universal Analytics. GA4 aims to address this.
The Events Report records how users interact with various elements of your website. This report will automatically track any Google Analytics events you have set up in your website code or through Google Tag Manager.
A benefit of event tracking is that it provides valuable insights into how users are interacting with your website and content. For example, it shows if they are clicking through to emails or external links, downloading brochures, guides or PDFs, viewing or partially viewing videos, and more. These insights can inform your website copy and layout, CTAs, and wider content strategies.
You can view website events overview information through the Overview sub-report. This report shows information on any event types and values you have coded into your website in one single view. If there are no events coded into your website, no data will appear here.
Once everything is tracked via the website code or using Google Tag Manager, you can view Top Events to see the most common events on your website.
As your business prepares for GA4, you need to ensure that in the meantime you have a good grasp of all these essential UA reports. You can find out more about the differences between UA and GA4 at our GA4 Team Talk.
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