Start at the Beginning: Making Sense of the Google Analytics Toolbox

I have a confession to make. I’m not really ‘Mrs. Fix-it’, if you must know. Oh, I can use a hammer and a screw driver to do basic stuff like hang a picture, but hand me a toolbox crammed with exotic and complex tools and I’ll just stand there with a perplexed look on my face (You should have seen the time I tried to set up a lofted bed back in college…).

I’ve noticed that something similar happens to people when they get Google Analytics set up. There are so many gleaming reports, so many options, so many numbers running around on the screen that you’re left standing there wondering, “Ok…Now what?”

The best way to prevent this is to sit down with the appropriate people in your company and figure out what you really want to get out of Google Analytics.

See, that sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Well, I hate to break this to you, but it’s a little harder than that (although I wish it wasn’t).

The first thought most people have is to say they want more traffic coming to their website. However, I’d like to argue that what they REALLY mean is that they want more BUSINESS.

My favorite quote dealing with this decision is from Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg’s book, Call To Action:

“Trying to increase sales simply by driving more traffic to a website with a poor customer conversion rate is like trying to keep a leaky bucket full by adding more water instead of plugging the holes.”

So this is the process I would recommend you go through before trying to wade through all the glorious-yet-overwhelming reports offered in Google Analytics:

Step 1.) Pin down exactly what kind of website and/or company you have. Choices include but are not limited to, and could possibly be a mixture of:

  • E-commerce
  • Lead-generation
  • Brand awareness
  • Content / Subscription
  • Self-service

Step 2.) Use that information to help you narrow down your main objective.
Examples:

  • Sell more products
  • Get better-qualified leads
  • Improve customer service

Step 3.) Now decide on the best way to ACHIEVE that goal, which will in effect give you an actionable goal.
Examples:

  • Want to sell more products? Improve your website’s conversion rate.
  • Want better qualified leads? Narrow your focus to the most appropriate segment.
  • Want to improve customer service? Lower response time to customer inquiries.

Step 4.) Use your actionable goal to choose Google Analytics reports to focus on.
Examples:

  •  You can watch the Goal Conversion Tracking report to see how changes in your site are affecting the conversion rate for your goals within Google Analytics.
  • The User-Defined report can help you to determine what types of prospects create the highest-quality leads.

With some actionable goals in hand, you should have all the ‘tools’ you’ll need to begin optimizing your website! Good luck, and watch out for those toolboxes.