Excluding internal traffic to better understand your customers
One of the most important aspects of Google Analytics is understanding that it does not care who it tracks. If you have set up your Google Analytics tracking correctly, it will accurately track everyone who comes onto your website -- and that includes you.
For testing this is fine, but when it comes to production, most likely you want to get a sense of your external customers rather than your internal coworkers when looking at user behavior online. This is especially true when it comes to events, and testing, such as repeat clicks on a video, spending a certain amount of time on the site, or visiting a specific page.
In short, excluding internal traffic is a key factor in determining customer behavior accurately.
Dashboards to bring the real data forward
Google Analytics is one of the most powerful free tools out there. The amount of data you have access to is staggering, and the ability to perform a deep dive into what you’re looking for is invaluable. That said, sometimes you need a 1,000 foot view, and this is where dashboards come in.
Dashboards are highly customizable, and a unique opportunity to bring data to life in summary form for high-level decision makers, or to make a quick comparison of data sets. Google helps with dashboards in numerous ways, from a generic templated starter dashboard, to a robust shared gallery of user-created dashboards that you can choose from.
Dashboards can also be shared internally via a PDF export. You can even schedule the dashboards to be sent via email to go out on a specific day of the week to a group of people!
Audience segments to break down your user base
Audience segments are a terrific way to break down your users into actionable groups. Segmentation can be done at the top of the interface, and sticks across reports, letting you analyze a group within the Audience, Acquisition, Behavior or Conversion reports.
The power of segmentation is in the ability to compare these groups, similar to how you compare date ranges. Reports and graphs seamlessly compare each segment, allowing you to easily see how the groups work against each other within a set date range. You can even compare date ranges and audience segments at the same time, though that can get confusing fast.
Google comes preloaded with a lot of great audience segments, and you can of course create your own, or even download a predefined audience segment created by another user. Segments are a great way to understand exactly how different subsets of your audience are interacting with your site and it’s content, and compare them directly.
Comparing date ranges to analyze changes in seasonal/yearly/monthly data
Similar to audience segments, date ranges are a global effect and live at the top right of the interface. This change sticks across reports, and allows you to work within a specific date range as you traverse the reports within Google Analytics.
Date ranges can be used to compare periods, simply check the “Compare to:” checkbox within the dropdown menu and choose your date range. Similar to audience segments, reports will be generated with both sets of data, double lines for graphs, separate rows for charts.
The date range tool is integral to understanding your data, as you analyze trends within a period, and begin to notice insights when comparing one period to the next.
Goals to track user behavior online
Goals track when a user completes a certain action on your site. There are four types:
- Destination goal - When a user reaches a location on your site
- Duration goal - When a session lasts a specific amount of time, or longer
- Pages/Screens per Session goal - When a user accesses a specific number of pages within a single session
- Event goal - When a tracked event is triggered such as playing a video
Goals are configured on the View level and there are a maximum of 20 goals per View. You can disable a goal but not delete it, so be careful what you create. Think strategically when creating Goals -- how do you want to track conversions, what are you looking for? Remember that goals show things like the location of the conversion, the Source/Medium, the completion rate, and the value if assigned.
Note that one of the most powerful goal types, the Event goal, requires additional setup to make work -- you must track the event. Google Tag Manager is a great way to do this, here’s a link to get started:
Goals are a terrific way to understand your users, and their activity on your site. If you’d like help in setting up goals, or have comments about this article, please reach out to us at the link below. We look forward to hearing from you!