Online Marketing Essentials: Understanding Google Analytics

Five things you might not have known about Google analytics.

Google Analytics has rapidly become an online marketing essential for all walks of life and not just online marketing agencies, especially when you take into account it’s free offering. The problem is, some people don’t know how much this free version of Analytics can actually do… 1. It ignores data after reaching a certain level of activity. After receiving 500 hits during a single visitor session, Google Analytics ignores any further activity. These “hits” are generated every time an item – such as a tracking code, page element or PDF – is requested from the web server, and can understandably add up before you know it! 2. It samples data after reaching a certain activity level. Considering how clever Google Analytics can be, it comes as no surprise that it is so popular with online marketing agencies. And this intelligence becomes even more apparent when you consider Analytics’ talent for sampling data. Once your company has 1 million variables in play, it selectively ignores some of the data, instead using sophisticated algorithms to digest your the rest and get rid of the bits least likely to make a visible difference. 3. It only allows 20 Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) per profile. Although this won’t affect the effectiveness of a smaller business’ online marketing strategy, 20 KPI’s per profile can seem tiny to larger ones. Remember, KPI’s may be any valuable action you define – from time spent on your page to the amount of content downloaded – so pick yours carefully or invest in the more comprehensive version of Google Analytics to take full advantage of it’s benefits. 4. It allows ten steps per conversion funnel. A conversion funnel is the best way to track how your page visitors are converting, and where, and is a critical factor in online marketing success. Google Analytics allows you to define these steps to conversion, a move that can see you direct your customers in the direction you had envisioned. However, there are plenty of users who buck the trend and follow their own unexpected path. Since Google Analytics only allows you a (fair) ten steps, it is worth paying close attention to these in order to optimise your website in the best way for your visitors. 5. Google Analytics is only as successful as you allow it to be. Online marketing agencies believe that, in this respect, the free version of Google Analytics is identical to the more expensive tools on the market. As with all aspects of online marketing, Analytics requires you to do more than just enter your tracking code and check your reports. Make sure that you’ve planned your analytics environment advantageously, identified what your KPI’s and site goals are and whether they match your businesses needs, and perhaps most importantly, checked that your tagging and reporting reflect the choices you’ve made.

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