If I had a nickel…Google Analytics, more than just pretty charts

If I had a nickel…Google Analytics, more than just pretty charts

When you log into Google Analytics , what do you see? If it’s neat looking graphs and tables, well, we need to talk. There is some serious intel that you can get from your web stats, stuff that will help you make real business decisions about how to use your website and your online marketing strategy. And nobody knows how to get us set up and on the right track than David Kutcher.

The complete “If I had a nickel” series:

  1. Transitioning to a new web provider
  2. Everything you need to know about Local Search
  3. Making the most of analytics and web stats
  4. What you need to know about plugins, site performance, and security
  5. Image copyright, licensing, and doing the web & social the right way


Your Hosts:

Stephan Hovnanian is a web strategist and email marketer for Shovi Websites, author of the Google+ Pro Tips series of ebooks on Amazon, and host of a weekly webcast called Google+ Business Spotlight. Stephan distills the content and advice out there on the Web into useful and applicable ideas to help your business make the most of its online presence.

Susan Finch of Susan Finch Solutions has a background in public relations and advertising since 1986, and is a “gentle guide for clients trying new venues online.” She engages those skills as she helps create an online presence that will appeal to existing and future clients and/or investors. All these factors are considered before she constructs a suggested plan for clients. It goes way beyond an online presence.

Featured Expert: David Kutcher, Confluent Forms LLC

David is the co-owner of Confluent Forms LLC a boutique firm providing branding, graphic design, web design, web development and custom software development services and has been in the business since ’97 and incorporated his business in ‘02. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, major banks, large non-profits and universities, to small mom & pop businesses and charities. Probably over 200 sites and clients by now…

David started as a web designer, transitioned to a web developer, then to an information architect and online strategist.

In the Google-verse David is a Top Contributor for Blogger, a Rising Star for Google+, and was one of the first class of invitees to offer Helpouts sessions.

David’s company also is the brains behind the RFP Database, one of the largest online marketplaces for requests for proposals in the world, with over 120,000 registered users and having hosted over 100,000 requests for proposals.

Web: http://www.confluentforms.com
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+davidkutcher
Google+ (page): https://plus.google.com/+confluentforms
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/davidkutcher/
Helpout: http://helpouts.google.com/+davidkutcher

Watch: If I had a nickel…

Be sure to grab our free gift for watching, a Google Analytics quick-start checklist. Also be sure to head to this page on David’s site for two custom Google Analytics dashboards.

Hey, don’t cheat and just go download these things, then leave, okay? This is important stuff!

3:00 Why we need analytics

You just spent a lot of time and money on a website, presumably using business goals or at least to have the website help you grow your business. You are also going to spend a lot of time and money marketing your website to drive traffic to it.

So, where does all this traffic go from just traffic to something that has an impact on your business? That’s where your analytics reports come into play. They will help you match up the business goals to the activity on your website, and make adjustments along the way.

4:05 Why Google Analytics versus other analytics and stats tools?

In this segment we hit on a lot of important setup-level topics, such as the difference between Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools, why businesses are (to a fault) focused on basic metrics like bounce rate, page views, etc., and also how connect everything so you can get a complete picture of your visitor from their search, to their entry point, to their exit.

8:00 So what do we do with all this information?

David likens Analytics to the Magic 8 Ball, the kid toy where you start with a question, and the toy gives you an answer. Approaching your stats the same way makes sense. Start with a question, then use the tools to see what is happening now on your website to answer the question, and if there are any changes you can make to improve the outcome.

Asking follow-up questions is also important. “So then what?” or “So what does that mean?” will help you drill down to the things that you can change on your website, then track in Analytics.

BIG TIP: When looking at what your visitors are doing on your website, if you are meeting their needs, are you also meeting your needs? Remember, people come to different parts of your website from different channels. They may or may not have had a touchpoint (or two, or three) with you and your brand, or even the page they are visiting. Both sides have to be able to get what they want, and there might be different needs for different audiences coming to your website from different channels. Use filters to discover if this is true or not.

17:00 Favorite charts

David loves anything that starts with a landing page. Where do people start their journey on your website? From there you can learn more about them and how your website meets (or doesn’t meet) their needs. The user path from landing page to exit page can deliver amazing insights that you can optimize with the intent of improving the user experience (then moving to the next user path).

20:00 Migrating sites and how to handle changes

Public Service Announcement – Remember to migrate your stats code when you migrate or relaunch your website.

If you can keep the same URL’s (which might cost you a little extra) it is worth it. If you can’t, or even if you can, use annotations in Google Analytics to document what you’re doing along the way. This goes for more than just infrastructure or site-specific things. You can use annotations to document tests you run, or marketing campaigns.

26:00 Making the most of Analytics Dashboards

Dashboards are a set of reports that you save for one-stop access, instead of having to click through to each of the reports. Huge help.

You can also search for custom dashboards that people have created, and import them into Google Analytics for things like ecommerce, deep social interactions, and more.

As you become more familiar with certain reports, you will want to create your own dashboards for easy access to all the answers to your questions (remember, you log into Analytics to answer questions)!

29:15 Profiles vs. Accounts vs. Properties

Google Analytics allows you to create a single account for your website, and then create new tracking codes for multiple properties. David explains it best, but the basic jist of whether you’ll need multiple tracking codes for multiple websites is to look holistically at whether the multiple websites are really multiple websites for your business goals (i.e. www.domain.com and blog.domain.com are essentially the same site and should be tracked together).

URL filters are very useful to help split out multiple sites that are holistically the same entity.

Like we’ve said this entire series, too, make sure you have control over your account and who has access to it.

37:00 David’s 3 biggest tips for Google Analytics

1. Focus on Conversion – set up event and goal tracking so you can have a way to measure how well you are meeting both your and your visitors’ needs.

2. Make decisions based on an ample data set – don’t get bogged down on the numbers within short periods of time, remember that you have to have enough data to compensate for fluctuations (like holidays, media coverage, etc.).

3. Figure out how to get passionate about data – tell a story, answer a question, jot down your business goals. Whatever it will take to get you “juiced up” about analytics, do it, your business will thank you later.


The complete “If I had a nickel” series:

  1. Transitioning to a new web provider
  2. Everything you need to know about Local Search
  3. Making the most of analytics and web stats
  4. What you need to know about plugins, site performance, and security
  5. Image copyright, licensing, and doing the web & social the right way
About Stephan Hovnanian

I own Shovi Websites, a website design and email marketing company located outside Boston. I spend my days managing websites and staying up to speed with all the latest trends across the web so you don't have to.

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