Zach Mandelblatt
By Zach Mandelblatt | SEM | January 7, 2014

The Importance of Having (& Using!) Conversion Tracking Part 4: Google Analytics

At last we come to the final installment of our exploration into Conversion Tracking in which I try and take conversion tracking rookies from 0 to 60 in no time flat (see Part 1Part 2, & Part 3).  Today we will skim the surface ofGoogle Analytics.  Google Analytics (GA for short) can do pretty much anything: all of the conversion tracking we’ve previously discussed can be done in GA.  Do you want to know how many organic visitors came to your site this month compared to last?  GA will tell you.  Do you want to know how many people watched a video on your site?  GA can track that.  How about something simple, like your site-wide bounce rate?  GA is the answer.  Something complicated, like what percent of shoppers abandoned their shopping cart on the last page of check-out after adding 3 or more items to the cart?  With a little work, GA can spit out answers to that question too!GA data is extremely helpful in determining courses of action for your website and your ad spend.  But how does it work exactly?  Like conversion tracking code for AdWords, it involves pasting code on your website (GA code, to be specific).  However, unlike the AdWords conversion tracking code, which you only paste on the page of your site that you have determined as the destination at which traffic has converted (the end of a shopping cart for example), the Google Analytics code is placed on every page of your website.  The code will pull data from every page on which it’s been inserted, then GA will combine the data from all pages to give you a bevy of statistic information.
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Google Analytics Code
If you want to learn more about how Google Analtyics works or get help with installation, feel free to give us a call.  I’ll skip the thorny details for now (common installation missteps, etc.) and get straight to the good stuff: how to use the information GA spits out.At its most basic level, GA provides you with data related to web browsing (like Page Views Per Visit, Bounce Rate, & Time On Site by different types of visitors).  You can find this data in the “All Traffic Tab” under “Acquisitions”.  Below is a snapshot of a website’s basic browsing data.  The “source/medium” column tells us exactly how visitors got to the site.  For example, the “google/cpc” column tells us that 10,495 visitors reached the site by clicking on Google AdWords ads, “google/organic” tells us 6,247 visitors reached the site by clicking on an organic listing on Google, “youtube/referral” tells us 1,314 visitors were “referred” by youtube, AKA they reached your site via a click from an advertisement or embedded link, and so on.
all traffic tab
Basic GA Data
Looking at this data can give us valuable insight.  For example, it looks like the average Bing Ads visitor (Bing/CPC) is slightly more engaged with the site than the average Google/CPC visitor, as Bing Ads has the better stats for Bounce Rate, Pages/Visit, and Avg. Visit Duration.  This can help us decide how to allocate our ad spend budget.  We also see that the average organic visitor is much more engaged than the average paid click visitor.  If this is the way your GA data looks, than fear not: organic traffic outperforming paid search traffic is a common trend for most websites. However, data like this can raise some important questions like “should I be focusing more on improving my organic listings and start paying more attention to Search Engine Optimization?”We defined a conversion in Part 2 as “a desired outcome from a website visit”, which can mean anything you want it to mean.  GA allows you to set up goals when visitors reach particular milestones based on these statistics.  For example, you might consider anyone who spends more than four minutes on your site to be extremely valuable.  You can set up a goal in Google Analytics by clicking on the “Admin” tab and selecting “Goals”.  You can also monetize these goals by giving them conversion values (see the goal creation picture below).  Then, import them into Google AdWords to help you determine which keywords are leading to the most interested traffic (this page explains how to link your AdWords and GA accounts together).  After you’ve created these goals, you’ll start to see goal completion data by source and medium in the “Goals” section of Google Analytics, better informing you which traffic sources are working for you and which are not.
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Time On Site Goal Creation with a Conversion Value of 10
This is a very brief summary; in reality, GA provides almost endless tracking options (for example, we haven’t yet discussed how to set up a Video view or shopping cart abandonment as a goal).  I plan on going into more detail on some of them in future blogs, but hopefully this gives you an idea of how useful Google Analytics can be.  As our resident GA expert often tells me, “Google Analytics is at its core simple javascript code, and if you know how to manipulate it, you can make it do (and track!) pretty much anything”.We consider Google Analytics to be a vital piece of the conversion tracking puzzle, which, as we have seen throughout this Conversion Tracking series, is not easy to put together.  However, once all the conversion tracking mechanisms are in place, you have the power to identify what is leading to your website’s success and allocate your resources accordingly.  Next week we’ll stick with the Google Analytics goal creation theme and look at another relatively easy yet extremely useful goal: destination URL goal tracking.
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