I’ve been reviewing GA for new clients again in the past few weeks and one thing seems clear, most of them are not taking full advantage of what analytics offers.

In this post I want to start a checklist and explain what we need to do to bring GA up to date and get the full benefits from the insights.

Make sure you are using Universal Analytics

Which version of GA are you using? You can check by looking at the source of any page to see whether you are calling analytics.js (Universal) or ga.js (Classic).

Universal Analytics is a complete rewrite of the product and is likely to be the only supported version in a few years time.  It has been designed to track digital sites and apps in a fully omni-channel world.  It’s possible to integrate it, for example, with point-of-sale system so that you can match up online and offline transactions by the customers. If you are investing in GA then Universal is where you should spend your time particularly as Google will keep improving this version in particular.

Link GA with other Google data

Analytics should be integrated with Adwords and Search Console (formerly called Web Master Tools) as a minimum.  PPC is a major source of traffic and keyword insight and Search Console provides a view of demand; how often did the site appear in search results, for what terms and how many people clicked?  Both of these help you explore visitor needs and plan content and service to better meet these needs. Follow Google’s instructions to link Search Console inside the Properties tab of GA.

You can also link in AdSense data and third party data from your ecommerce tools or CRM but particularly the latter is probably later in your GA journey.

Add demographics to understand and segment your visitors

Do more older men or more younger women use your site or shop in store? Knowing this can help us make decisions for marketing, merchandising or creating content to meet their needs.  To get demographic data you need to opt into GA’s remarketing and advertising reporting options; go to Property Settings and toggle Enable Demographics and Interest Reports. This allows Google to link behaviour on your site with data collected by the DoubleClick advertising network. DoubleClick have been allowing advertisers to target specific demographics and interests for many years and are bringing these insights into Analytics.

Track internal search

The chances are you have a search box on your site and this can be a great source of data to understand visitor expectations and needs.  As a minimum you should turn on Site Search Settings in the Admin View tab for your site.  You’ll need to provide a keyword (such as q or text or query) depending on how your search is implemented.  To find out do a search and then look at the URL that is generated.

Turn on benchmarking

One question I get asked all the time is how this site is doing compared with that or with the industry standards.  GA can help us answer this if we are prepared to share our data anonymously with our peers; you show me yours and I’ll show you mine.  In my opinion this is worth doing if only to see which marketing channels others are using to drive traffic.  Turn on Benchmarkings in the Account Settings of your GA Account.

In the next part of this article I’ll look at Goal Tracking specifically linked to Jobs to be Done: how do we see whether customers are getting their needs met by your site?  Later parts of this series will look at Customer Segments, GA Intelligence and Reporting.


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