Google Analytics (GA) is a web analytics service offered by Google to track and report website traffic. It’s the most widely used web analytics service on the internet. And best of all, this powerful tool is free and well supported by good online help! Which makes it a great tool for online retailers to benefit from analytics on their website as well as on mobile apps. With this tool you can know where your sales are coming from and what is giving you the best ROI.
But to be able to cash in on this excellent tool, you need to make sure your Google Analytics account is set-up right so that the data you collect will be accurate. If not, with the information overload, you could be receiving subpar quality or distorted results that skew your perspective.
- First of all, don’t use an outdated version of GA. The latest is configured to handle multi-device browsing complexities and website owner reporting requirements. You have classic Google Analytics (ga.js), and you have an optional upgrade to Universal Analytics (analytics.js). The latter can overcome more advanced limitations. Make sure you have the latter code on your website.
- Next, ensure you have set it up as a separate individual account, not a personal one. So if you want to split ways with third party owners (e.g. the web designer who set it up) or if you want to outsource to third party agencies, a separate standalone account will be easy to hand over. Moreover, you benefit from risk management as you don’t lose access to web traffic data and therefor don’t ever need to start again from scratch.
- Instead of just one view (All Website Data), create three – Master, Test and Raw – to filter or isolate traffic without wiping out your backups. This is a risk management tactic. Raw is a backup, Test lets you test filters, conversion tracking or advanced features, Master is heavily filtered. Applying filters to All Website Data may help you filter traffic from spiders and crawlers indexing the site, or ghost and internal traffic, which give you false perspective. But wrong configuration of filters can wipe out your data.
- Tweak settings to track campaigns separately from regular website traffic. Analytics gives you a load of data. But for it to become meaningful to your company and to track your efforts, you need to streamline the information. It can’t separate certain data unless specifically instructed to. E-mail and social media just get lumped under direct or referral. So you don’t know whether a campaign was effective and where it could do better. By using Google’s UTM parameters at the end of your URL and creating tagged links you can properly identify traffic from different channels.
- Use referral spam blockers like Referrer Spam Blocker (evidently, dah!) to remove this from reports and keep it out of your data. Otherwise it distorts traffic data. It’s a seedy technique where questionable sites send traffic to you (sometimes without even visiting your site) to get you to check out their site when you see them in your GA report, and then promote products when you visit, or worse, deploy malware to your system. Smaller companies are more susceptible to this growing issue.
- Implement the GA tracking code on each page correctly and relevantly to capture actual traffic. Mistakes in setting it up can inadvertently mean that a page accidentally double marked will record double traffic, or bounce visits may be captured as non-bounce, and so forth. Basically the long term repercussions are many. Google helps you out by providing a tool that checks whether your code is installed right.
- Finally, goal track so you don’t end up with lots of meaningless data. Setting goals means you gain invaluable insight from the data you get that provides the base for inference. Goals let you track user behaviour on a website. On a basic level you can track users who spend more time on a page, or view a specified number of pages. At an advanced level you can track where submission forms came from, track click-to-calls, number of downloads, click-throughs on Facebook and so on. Use a tag manager to set up these events.
As you can see, these steps in setting-up your Google analytics can immensely help you with your e-commerce or m-commerce store, and give you the input for an objective perspective required to make important decisions for your business.