Google Analytics: The Most Powerful (Free) Tool Available

 Posted by John McColman on August 18, 2020,  
Google Analytics: The Most Powerful (Free) Tool Available 1

Google Analytics: The Most Powerful (Free) Tool Available

Before you start reading this article, we have one question:

Do you have Google Analytics?

If you answered ‘yes’, read on to get a better understanding of your analytics. 

If you answered ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know’, stop reading and call or text us. We can check whether you have an account set up for your business, and, if not, set one up for you – often on the same call and always for free.

Some of you probably answered the above question with a shrug, but are still forging on, trying to understand why you should have Google Analytics. The answer is: your online presence needs Google Analytics just like your house needs a foundation.

You can build your online presence without Google Analytics, but just like a house without a foundation, it will be weak and ineffective. To create a robust digital footprint, Google Analytics is no longer an option – it’s a requirement. And, because it’s free, there’s absolutely no reason to put off activating your account right now.

So now that everyone knows they have Google Analytics set up on their website, we’ll walk you through its benefits and the best ways to get those benefits.

Benefits of Google Analytics

Go back a couple of decades in advertising and campaigns were based on gut-feelings and guesses. Large ad agencies full of executives in grey flannel suits talked clients into big ad spends based on little more than their own enthusiasm and salesmanship.

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But, in the new world of digital marketing, data is king. With today’s technology, we can get a clear picture of how effective every dollar of an ad spend is doing. This allows marketers to tweak successful campaigns to become even more successful, plan future campaigns around past successes, and (most importantly), cut any marketing with a low ROI to free up more budget space for marketing that works.

That makes today’s advertising much more effective.

The first step to getting the all-important data that can bring your advertising out of the Don Draper-era and into today’s more effective advertising is setting up Google Analytics so you can start using it. 

With the variety of tools available through that platform, you are able to track how users are interacting with your website, where they’re coming from, and what they’re looking at (and so much more). Not only can those numbers show you how healthy your digital presence is, they can also reveal how well your marketing, both digital and traditional, is doing.

Whether a prospective client/buyer sees an ad online, or a billboard on the side of the road, their buyer’s journey usually goes through your website. That means, if that radio ad you paid for is doing well, you’ll see it in your web traffic just like the effects of the banner ad you’re running or other digital marketing you’re doing.

But, of course, when you start looking at your digital footprint, Google Analytics becomes even more powerful. By tracking your visitors you can tell:

  • If your social media presence is bringing buyers
  • If your website is effective at converting 
  • Who is interested in your product
  • How each small change you make increases or decreases your traffic

These numbers will give you the information you need to make the best decision for you in your media-buys, so you can be confident in your ad ROAS (Return on Actual Spend).

The most important step in using Google Analytics

If you’ve worked with a developer or ad agency in the past, there’s a chance they set up your Google Analytics and still own, or have access to it. While it’s fine to let people and agencies into your analytics so they can pull data from it to better focus your advertising efforts, you should never allow any other business to control your data.

If you have control over your data, you are free to change marketers at will, and take that all-important information with you to your next marketer. However, when another company owns your data, moving becomes a tricky negotiation. Somehow, you have to cut ties, while maintaining access to your data, which is often impossible. So instead, you lose all of it, which puts you back at square one with your new agency. And there’s no reason for that to happen. 

So, before you go any further, jot down a note to yourself:

*Make sure I’m in control of my data.”

Because, the earlier you take control of your data, the more information you’ll have if you decide to move.

Effective practices 

Now that you know why it’s important to both have and control your Google Analytics page, let’s take a look at how to make the most out of this by going over a few frequently asked questions:

1. How often should I be logging into my Google Analytics account?

The more often you log in, the more effective you can be in tweaking your digital footprint. However, few business owners have the time, or employees, to check their analytics daily. 

At a minimum, we recommend logging into your Google Analytics account 2 to 4 times a month. If you have the time, a couple times a week is even more effective. After that, you’ll hit diminishing returns.

2. What are UTM codes, and how can I use them to make Google Analytics more effective?

Simply put, UTM codes are small bits of code added to the end of links that tags traffic coming through that link. It might be easier to grasp to think of UTM codes as door-greeters asking visitors where they’re from and then recording it.

So, if you started a Facebook campaign, you could create a UTM code, then paste it onto the end of the url link in that campaign. That way, your analytics can tell when a visitor came to your site via that link, allowing you to measure how effective it is.

With UTM codes you can track five different parameters, including:

  • Source
  • Medium
  • Campaign Name
  • Content
  • Keyword Term

UTM tracking can help you understand which ad campaigns are working to drive traffic to your website, and which ones need to be tweaked, or cut completely. 

What should I be looking for on Google Analytics?

Logging into Google Analytics can get overwhelming quickly, especially if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. For business owners who are in charge of their own analytics, we recommend tracking via four data points:

  1. Traffic levels and sources
  2. What your traffic is looking at: products, pages, content
  3. Bounce rates and time on site
  4. Where your visitors are from

*Bonus: If you have an ecommerce site, set up Advanced Ecommerce tracking to track where your online sales are coming from, and what’s bringing them in.

This gives you a good snapshot of how well your campaigns are doing, and if you’re appealing to an audience that is actually converting.

Your best snapshot of how your business is doing.

If there’s only one thing you take away from this article it is:

Google Analytics is a requirement for a modern business.

Since it’s free and easy to set up your self (and free to get us to do it for you), you have no reason to avoid it.

Once you’ve gone ahead signed up and signed in, things can get a little more difficult. With the ocean of information available. it’s easy to get completely overwhelmed by Google Analytics and give up. But, you don’t have to learn what every single number means to bring your business into the new age of advertising.. 

The two most important things to remember once you have Google Analytics is:

  • You should stay in control of your data
  • All ad campaigns, on and off-line, should move the needle on your analytics

If you can keep control of your data, and monitor where your traffic is coming from, and how your advertising campaigns affect it, then you’ve made a big jump forward in your advertising, and you’re empowering your business to do better.

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The best part is, you’ve done it for free with minimal investment in time.

If you want more from your analytics, call us to get clarity with a free digital consultation with our experts.