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Applied Analytics

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Key features of a web analytics account

Google Analytics has four main reporting areas:

  • Audience: This section provides information about your website's visitors.
  • Acquisition: This section shows how your visitors found your website.
  • Behavior: This is where Google reports on what your visitors do on your website.
  • Conversion: This section reports on any conversions that may happen, such as e-commerce sales or submitted contact forms.


Let's look at the Audience section. Here, we can find out what languages our visitors speak, where in the world they come from, what kind of device they've used, who their internet service provider is, and so on. You can distill all kinds of insights from these data sources. For example, if your audience primarily uses Internet Explorer on Windows 7 desktop PCs, you're probably looking at an elderly demographic; whereas if your audience uses the latest Chrome browser on an Android device, you have a much younger and technically savvy audience to work with.


The Acquisition section shows how your visitors found your website. There are four main primary sources of traffic:

  • Search - organic and pay-per-click: These visitors come from search engines, either from the paid advertising results or the organic results.
  • Social media: These visitors come from social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Referral sites: These are visitors from other websites that may link to yours, such as business directories or news articles.
  • Direct traffic: This is traffic that comes directly to your website via a bookmark or typing in your website's address, or any other traffic where Google Analytics doesn't know where it originated from.

Additionally, there's also a section for campaigns, which shows visits from specific online campaigns, such as pay-per-click advertising or email marketing campaigns. Google Ads will usually connect to your Google Analytics to show you the campaign data here, but for other campaigns, you might need to use special tracking URLs to make sure Google Analytics can report accurately.

Tracking URLS

You can tag your marketing URLs in email marketing or other channels with specific tracking codes to enable reporting in Google Analytics.

You can create special tracking URLs using an URL-builder tool.

To create a tracking URL, you start with the actual address of the page that you want to send users to, and then you add certain extra elements to it.

The three main elements you need to add are:

  • utm_source: the traffic source of your campaign, such as your email newsletter or display ads
  • utm_medium: the type of traffic, for example email or advertising
  • utm_campaign: the name of your campaign, for example, “Christmas offer” or “Seasonal specialty”

When you use URLS that are configured like this, Google Analytics will report on them in the Campaigns reports of the Acquisition section.


The Behavior section tells us what visitors do when they arrive on your website. Here, you can see which pages they visit the most, how long they spend on each page, how users click through your website from page to page and so on. This section also has reports on how your visitors use your internal search feature and how fast your site loads.

In this section, you can also look at specific events on your website that you may have configured.


The Conversions section is where Google Analytics shows you whether your visitors turn into actual customers. Here, you see data about goal completions or online transactions, depending on what kind of website you have. You can determine exactly which traffic sources drive the most conversions, as well as how many visits a person needs to become a paying customer.

Goal conversions

Goal conversions are important because they allow you to determine if your website is delivering value to your business. Traffic numbers are fine but without conversion data, we still won't know if your website is generating business.

If your site is not an e-commerce site, you will need to set up goals to measure. Example of goals are when someone:

  • Fills in a contact form
  • Downloads a brochure
  • Looks up your contact information

Basically, any desirable action on your website can be configured as a goal, allowing you to track and report on it. There are different types of goals:

You can configure goals based on a URL that people visit or based on an event that you've configured. If your website is an e-commerce website, you can enable e-commerce tracking, which allows you to track exactly what has been sold on your website, the value of those products, the amount of transactions, and so on.

E-commerce conversions

When configured properly, Google Analytics will show you precisely how many e-commerce sales are happening on your website, how much money you're making from those sales, what the average order value of those sales is, and where those sales come from in terms of traffic sources. This allows you to see exactly how your e-commerce website is performing, and what its strengths and weaknesses are. 

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Barry Adams

Barry Adams is the founder of Polemic Digital, which won Best Small SEO Agency at the 2016 UK Search Awards. He has been an active practitioner since 1998 and is co-chief editor for State of Digital. His clients include national brands like EMO Oil and The Sun, multinationals and local businesses.

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

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