Google Analytics is the most popular tool for analysing website traffic, used by companies big and small and, what’s more, it’s free.

You’ve already got the code installed on your site so you’re totally nailing it, right? Not necessarily.

A recent survey revealed that 88% of Shopify stores have Google Analytics set up incorrectly.

Are you really using Google Analytics to its full potential? Do you glean actionable insights from it, which can help you mould your digital marketing strategy? Don’t let the fact that it’s free mean that you underestimate it.

Google Analytics is truly powerful, yet few companies actually harness the power that it offers. It is often either neglected or used simply as a ‘website counter’. That’s like owning a Ferrari and only using it to pootle to the shops once a month!

There’s a lot more to effectively using Google Analytics than just putting the code on your site. It needs to be customised to get the best out of it.

Here’s how to make Google Analytics work harder for your business today:

1. Create goals

‘Goals’ are whatever you are trying to achieve on your website. For an e-commerce site this could be a sale and for a lead generation site this could be a sales enquiry through a contact form. Once these have been set up properly in Google Analytics, you can start seeing not only the overall numbers of sales / leads, but also start analysing how you can start getting more.

Should you stop certain advertising that is failing to convert into sales? Should you invest more in social media or email news, because it helps with the sales process? What about email marketing? These are the types of question you will be able to answer when goal tracking is correctly installed.

For a detailed description on how to set up goals, check out this article by the Digital Marketing Institute.

2. Set up your sales funnels

In Google Analytics a ‘sales funnel’ is the progress through your website that a potential customer makes from when they first arrive, to when they make a purchase or an enquiry, ie the goal. Once you have set up a goal, you can create a sales funnel.

This is particularly useful for e-commerce sites and their checkout process. The various steps to reach a goal are added to Google Analytics.

An example checkout process would be:

  1. Add to basket
  2. Enter address details
  3. Enter billing details
  4. Confirm order

Once Google Analytics has started to gather data, it will start to show the percentage of people that drop out at each stage of the funnel. This is vital information for fixing website design or usability issues. In our example above, if we found that a large percentage of people completed their address details but failed to enter their billing details, there could be something wrong with the website design of that particular page.

This screen shot shows how you can add a funnel to an Analytics goal.

google anlytics goal funnel

3. Use the latest Analytics code

There have been numerous versions of Google Analytics code over the years. The latest is Universal Analytics – you should have this on your website. Not only does it give the most accurate data, it also allows access to certain features that are not available in earlier versions.

An example is the use of advanced e-commerce tracking – this gives online stores access to additional data such as purchase funnels and promotion code analysis.

4. Link your AdWords accounts properly

Are you paying good money to run ads on Google AdWords but the data that you’re getting in Google Analytics is either incomplete or seems to be missing altogether? You may not have correctly linked your AdWords and Analytics accounts. Doing this allows you to view AdWords data in Analytics and vice versa.

You can find Google’s instructions on how to do this here. But it’s quite complicated so feel free to ask us to do it for you if you get stuck.

5. Set up filters

Sometimes you might want to exclude certain traffic from your analysis. A great example of this is that you wish to exclude traffic from your own company. By setting up a filter, the number of visitors to your site will not be artificially inflated by staff that are checking the company website.

Another use would be if you wanted to analyse traffic to a particular part of your separately, such as your blog. This would involve setting up a new view with a filter that only included traffic to the blog section of the website.It is good practice to ensure that you always have access to one unfiltered view of your data, just in case you need to view all website traffic in future.

It is good practice to ensure that you always have access to one unfiltered view of your data, just in case you need to view all website traffic in future.